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June 24, 2006

Less Dangerous Than The New York Times

Michelle Malkin posted some WWII posters supporting the war effort. I picked one from a collection of posters I've used with my classes, and so offer my Photoshopped contribution to the condemnation of those who care more about the next big scoop than national security.

less-dangerous.jpg

'Nuff said.

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|| Greg, 10:15 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NY Times Concedes Financial Monitoring Is Right -- But Wrong Because Bush Did It

That is, after all, what it comes down to in this editorial -- the Administration used legislation passed by a Democrat Congress and Signed By Democrat Jimmy Carter, as well as the Patriot Act, to monitor financial transactions by terrorists.

Investigators will probably need to monitor the flow of money to and from suspected terrorists and listen in on their phone conversations for decades to come. No one wants that to stop, but if America is going to continue to be America, these efforts need to be done under a clear and coherent set of rules, with the oversight of Congress and the courts.

The problem with this statement is that there is a coherent set of rules in place. As the LA Times reluctantly conceded yesterday, the subpoenas are authorized under long-standing federal law, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. So it seems that authority that everyone felt was acceptable in the hands of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton is somehow dangerous and a threat to American society when used by George W. Bush -- because he is actually using that power to track down enemies of America, not mere criminals.

It is still September 10 in the world of the NY Times. Perhaps they can schedule a breakfast meeting tomorrow at Windows on the World, to gain some perspective on the seriousness of the terrorist threat.

Also -- an excellent discussion of SWIFT can be found at SCSU Scholars. Gay Patriot has a superb exposition of the willingness of the NY Times to undercut American security in order to attack George W. Bush. NewsBusters notes this Mort Kondracke gem.

it's as though the New York Times thinks that somehow if the government, if the Bush administration is doing it, it's worse than something al-Qaeda might do to the United States, that we've got more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorist attacks.

Go back and read my excerpt from today's NY Times editorial and tell me that Kondracke didn't peg it exactly.

I also recommend the following superb posts to my readers:

Captain's Quarters -- ACLU, Right On Schedule, in which Ed points out"

anyone operating within the US banking system -- at least at those facilities insured by the FDIC and FSLIC -- the government has access to data on individual banking customers whenever it wants to access it. Any institution insured by the federal government has to give federal regulators access to their records during any extensive examination. Not only that, but since most accounts pay interest, the IRS also gets all of the information on these accounts, including taxpayer numbers and other private information.

However, in this case, the Swift project targeted only those people already indentified as terrorists or terrorist financiers, and the focus was on international transactions. The government brought in outside auditors to ensure that the information requested remained within the boundaries of their power. Most of all, George Bush told us on a number of occasions that the United States would track these transactions around the world to find terrorists and their enablers. The project itself has never been a secret; only the methods used remained clandestine.

Instapundit, who opines as follows:

When big companies dump toxic waste into rivers to enrich themselves, they're criticized by the press. But this is the same kind of thing -- self-serving profiteering at the public's expense.

Stop the ACLU -- ACLU Says Government Spying on Bank Records is Further Abuse of Power. which notes the ACLU's rejection of its own historic respect for national security.

There is probably no other time that a proper balance between civil liberties and national security becomes more important than in wartime. During times of war, sometimes unusual responses are implemented, often requiring suspension of certain liberties. Of course war opens the opportunity for abuse by governments, and the ACLU are right to watch for them. However, the ACLU in its absolutist perception of freedom, only worries about one side of the equation, civil liberties. It pays no attention to the national security side of things, not only ignoring it, but working against it.

One of the most revealing occurances towards the ACLU’s absolutist position on national security and its recent evolution can be seen in the action the board of directors took at its Oct 1989 meeting: It dropped section (a) from its policy, “Wartime Sedition Act.” Before, the ACLU held that it “would not participate (save for fundamental due process violations) in defense of any person believed to be “cooperating” with or acting on behalf of the enemy.” This policy was based on the recognition that “our own military enemies are now using techniques of propaganda which may involve an attempt to prevent the Bill of Rights to serve the enemy rather than the people of the United States.” In making its determination as to whether someone were cooperating with the enemy, “the Union will consider such matters as past activities and associations, sources of financial support, relations with enemy agents, the particular words and conduct involved, and all other relevant factors for informed judgement.” SOURCE

UPDATE: Even the Washington Post> agrees this is legal and proper.

For one thing, it appears to be legal. The government is receiving large volumes of data detailing financial transfers from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a Belgium-based consortium that acts as a kind of messenger service for banks around the world, electronically notifying banks of transactions other banks are attempting to complete. The government, if it develops suspicions about a person, can search the system for any transactions that person may have engaged in. While customer banking data are generally private under federal law, the statute does not appear to cover the society, which isn't a bank and doesn't have individual customers. What's more, a different law gives the president broad powers in a national emergency situation to investigate, or even prohibit, certain financial transactions. It is also the sort of information the government should be examining in any effort to frustrate terrorist financing and develop leads about who is funding whom. While such data can certainly be misused, records of overseas financial transfers are less sensitive from a privacy point of view than, say, the contents of phone calls or e-mails. And some safeguards appear to be in place to make sure the information is not misused. The department receives the material under a subpoena, Treasury officials emphasized yesterday. SWIFT's representatives audit all searches, as does an outside auditing firm. Unlike a data-mining operation, where analysts try to identify high-risk individuals using patterns and trends embedded in huge data sets, analysts here are searching for transactions involving individuals about whom they already have suspicions.


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|| Greg, 08:36 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Lady Macbeth Bashes GOP

After the Democrats followed a policy of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" during her husband's scandal-filled administration, I don't see where Lady Macbeth has any room criticizing her political opponents for supporting the policies of the President.

One day after suffering a pair of defeats on the Senate floor, Democratic leaders argued yesterday that their internal divisions over Iraq will help push the country toward a change in policy and accused Republicans of blindly following President Bush on a path that has been disastrous for the nation.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said Democrats emerged from this week's Senate debate more united than critics contend around a policy aimed at forcing the new Iraqi government to take responsibility for suppressing the insurgency. Party unity is important, she said, but not as valuable as an open debate about how best to change course.

"We're not blindly united like the other side is, where they are like the three monkeys -- 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,' " she told reporters after a speech to the Democratic group NDN. "They're not going to say anything negative about the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense or anybody else. I think that's irresponsible. It's negligent."

Perjury. Rape. Sexual harassment Abuse of FBI files. Firing civil service employees on trumped up charges to give contracts to family members. Abuse of the Justice Department to file false criminal charges. Cattle futures. Illegal fundraising. Illegal technology transfers. The list could continue for pages, but somehow the Democrats managed to ignore every single one of these crimes in their lockstep celebration of the most corrupt President in American history.

And now his wife dares criticize her political opponents for supporting George W. Bush in his efforts to wipe out jihadi terrorism. The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven!







|| Greg, 07:54 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 23, 2006

Harris County Meeting Call To Select CD22 Elector

In light of the expiration of the TRO preventing the selection of a replacement for Tom DeLay for the November ballot, the process is moving forward. Harris County precinct chairs in CD22 received this tonight.

DATE: Friday, June 23, 2006

TO: Precinct Chairmen in Harris County

Whose Precincts Lie Within TX Congressional District 22

FROM: Jared Woodfill, County Chairman

RE: URGENT

NOTICE OF MEETING

TO ELECT DISTRICT EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER

RELATED TO NOMINEE FOR TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 22

As you know, Congressman Tom DeLay is no longer eligible to be the Republican nominee for Texas Congressional District 22 in the November 2006 General Election. Thus, this will serve as notice of a meeting to be held as follows:

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2006

Time: 7:00 p.m. (Registration will begin at 6:00 p.m.)

Location: Judge Louie Ditta's Courtroom @ 16603 Buccaneer, Houston TX 77062

(2nd Floor, Rm. 208)

For the purpose of electing one (1) member to the district executive committee that, in turn, will elect a new Republican nominee for Texas Congressional District 22 for the November 2006 General Election ballot.

As you may also know, the district executive committee is comprised of one (1) member from each of the four (4) counties that are within Texas Congressional District 22, specifically Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Harris counties. The precinct chairmen within each of those counties whose precinct is also within Texas Congressional District 22 will meet to elect one of their own to represent them on the district executive committee. For our county, this meeting will be held as set forth in this notice. Once elected, the district executive committee will then meet to elect our new Republican nominee for this congressional district.

The Harris County Republican Party states that an emergency exists by reason of the delays on the process caused by recent litigation, thus requiring the timing of this meeting. Given the importance of this matter, I look forward to your attendance at the meeting.

(End of Call)

This means that we will select someone next week, barring a new restraining order. That should also mean the selection of a new candidate within two weeks of the meetings in the four counties involved.







|| Greg, 07:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NY Times Concerned About Bank Privacy For Terrorists

I realize that it will always be 9/10/2001 for members of the mainstream press -- especially the upper-crust like the NY Times. After all, they seem to have forgotten the demands that the US government do something-- anything -- to track down terrorists in the wake of the worst terror attacks to have ever taken place on American soil.

Now they want to criticize efforts to hunt down and root out the terrorists -- and to publish more classified material on the front page of their papers.

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

Hidden, of course, because publicizing the program would make it useless to investigators and aid terrorists in covering their tracks.

Oh, and by the way -- the program is conducted under the authority of legislation signed by Jimmy Carter nearly 30 years ago.

Under the program, Treasury issues a new subpoena once a month, and SWIFT turns over huge amounts of electronic financial data, according to Stuart Levey, the department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. The administrative subpoenas are issued under authority granted in the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

So this is not some rogue program dreamed up by Karl Rove in a Machiavellian attempt to undermine the privacy of Americans -- it exists because a Democrat house and Democrat Senate passed legislation that was signed by a Democrat president for the good of American national security. But I guess the press thinks it knows better what the security needs of the United States are -- or is it the security needs of the terrorists that they are concerned about?

MORE AT Michelle Malkin, Media Blog, Protein Wisdom, Small Town Veteran, Dental Blog, Webblogin, Hard Starboard, All Things Beautiful, Rolling Bones, Homemade Sin, PoliPundit, Politics of CP







|| Greg, 04:58 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dems Ask More To Die For A Mistake

Those of us who support the war in Iraq are heartbroken with every casualty report, but recognize that there is a military imperative for remaining in the region. Those who argue that the war was a mistake have no excuse for asking troops to remain thee -- and are, in fact, making proposals that by their own criteria ask soldiers to die for nothing, as pointed out by Powerline.

My friend Bob Cunningham makes an excellent point about the utter incoherence of the Kerry/Kennedy/Boxer cut-and-run proposal:

The line that made John Kerry famous, said in connection with the Vietnam War, was: "How can you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?"

It is, of course, the reason he was not able to say that his Iraq War Resolution vote was a mistake during the 2004 campaign --- because then he'd be hoist on his own petard and have to have called for withdrawal....

But he's not off the hook now...his proposal(s) call for withdrawal...but not for 6 months or a year!...How many U.S. deaths will there be between now and his deadlines(s)?...several hundred based on recent history....this is the very basis for his proposal(s) in the first place!!...so what is really saying? ....... ISN'T HE ASKING THEM ALL TO DIE FOR ---- WHAT HE SAYS!! ---- IS A MISTAKE??!!!

Or maybe he just wants them all to stay in barracks pending "redeployment"?....in that case...why bother with the 6 month - 12 month deadline?

So it's either incoherent --- just further exposure of the utter fecklessness of the left --- or else it is fundamentally dishonest and in a way that is particularly apposite for John Kerry...

Or both. Kerry and his confederates changed the withdrawal deadline from the end of 2006 to July 2007. Presumably this means that more American servicemen would be killed in combat. What was the rationale for the change? What will be accomplished by July 2007 that couldn't be accomplished by December 2006? But if something is being accomplished, why are we withdrawing? If nothing is being accomplished, why not get out now?

It is impossible to take the Democrats seriously.

What more can be said -- either the Democrats believe that Iraq is a mistake that requires an immediate cut-&-run to prevent the useless spilling or American blood, or they are playing politics with the deployment of the American military and the security of this nation. After all, how can they ask American soldiers to continue to die for another 18 months for a what they believe to be a mistake?







|| Greg, 04:34 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Miami Terror Arrests -- Homegrown Jihadis

Looks like the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have taken a group of homegrown jihadis into custody.

Seven people are in custody after a sweep by law enforcement authorities in connection with an alleged plot against targets that may have included the Sears Tower, officials told CNN.

Officials said no weapons or bomb-making materials had been found in the searches in the Miami area by FBI and state and local law enforcement officials. The city is under no imminent threat, according to the FBI.

Law enforcement sources told CNN that the arrests disrupted what may have been the early stages of a domestic terrorist plot to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, the FBI building in Miami, and possibly other targets.

Now for those (invariably on the Left) who object that the lack of bomb-making material indicates there was no threat, I'd like to ask -- would you feel the same way if this were a group of anti-abortion zealots arrested for plotting clinic bombings (a much more rare phenomenon)? Especially if there wre known targets.

What sort of things were observed that led to these arrests?

Neighbors who lived nearby said young men, who appeared to be in their teens and 20s, slept in the warehouse, running what looked like a militaristic group. They appeared brainwashed, some said.

"They would come out late at night and exercise," said Tashawn Rose, 29. "It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."

The law enforcement official told The Associated Press the seven were mainly Americans with no apparent ties to al-Qaida or other foreign terrorist organizations. He spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the news conferences.

"There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.

Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group. Rose said they tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.

Sounds like a real group of loons -- but also very similar o the group arrested in Canada. I wonder if we won't be let in on some connection to the Canadian group later today.

Captain Ed points to this local report from Miami.

A man who lives across the street from the warehouse where the search warrant was served described the suspects as an unusual group of men, almost cultist, who wore military-style clothes and kept to themselves.

''They reminded me a lot of the followers of Yahweh Ben Yahweh,'' he said, referring to a cult that flourished in Miami's Liberty City in the 1980s and spawned a reign of terror in the neighborhood.

''They have like a purpose or something,'' said the man, who would not give his name for fear of retribution.

The 12 to 15 men in their 20's and 30s appeared to be from Haiti and from the Bahamas.

''I bet they've gone across the water'' he said, believing some had escaped the federal agents.

I wonder if these folks have already been run to ground.

Michell Malkin
points out that this is not the first such group arrestd here in the US. Hugh Hewitt provides a good round-up from around the blogosphere.







|| Greg, 04:24 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 22, 2006

SCOTUS Gets Immigration Issue Right

And most interesting of all is the fact that it was the normally squishy David Souter who wrote the toughly worded decision of the court.

The Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a blow to some longtime illegal residents, upholding the deportation of a Mexican man who lived in the United States for 20 years.

By an 8-1 vote, justices said that Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, who was deported several times from the 1970s to 1981, is subject to a 1996 law Congress passed to streamline the legal process for expelling aliens who have been deported at least once before and returned.

After his last deportation in 1981, Fernandez-Vargas returned to the United States, fathered a child, started a trucking company in Utah and eventually married his longtime companion, a U.S. citizen.

But by the time he applied for legal status _ after his marriage in 2001 _ Congress had passed the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which revoked the right to appeal to an immigration judge an order of removal.

Fernandez-Vargas was sent back to Mexico in 2004, and wanted to return to his family in the United States. He argued that the 1996 law should not be applied to him because he last entered America more than a decade before Congress passed the statute.

"Fernandez-Vargas continued to violate the law by remaining in this country day after day and ... the United States was entitled to bring that continuing violation to an end," Justice David Souter wrote in the decision.

One more sign that we can round up illegals and send them back – if our elected officials have the will to do so.







|| Greg, 05:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rich Minnesotans Want Higher Taxes

And so they are seeking to increase the taxes of everyone making over $45,000 a year – what most of us would still define as middle class.

Memo to Minnesota: Some of our wealthiest residents think state government needs more money and say they're willing to pay the bill.

More than 200 wealthy Minnesotans signed a full-page ad that appears in the Star Tribune today asking the state to raise $2 billion for various initiatives by increasing the state's tax burden for high-salary earners.

"We need to invest more in our future," said Joel Kramer, former publisher of the Star Tribune and founder of think tank Growth and Justice that organized the "Invest for Real Prosperity" fiscal strategy.

The new money should be used to improve educational opportunities, provide affordable health care and fund transportation needs, Kramer said. His group has argued for several years that the state's wealthiest residents should pay higher taxes to fund needed government programs.

Business leaders Jim Pohlad of Marquette Financial Company, Richard McFarland, retired CEO of Dain Rauscher, and Lee Lynch, former CEO of Carmichael Lynch, were also key contributors to the current proposal that would make those earning more than $275,000 pay the state an additional 2 cents in taxes for every dollar earned. That would be an additional $6,000 in taxes for someone earning $300,000.

State taxes for anyone making less than $45,000 would not increase and the rates would vary for everyone in between. Kramer said he hopes the ad will create public interest and discussion, perhaps leading to legislative action. He also acknowledged that even if the tax increase was approved, it would take "some faith in government" to trust that the money would be appropriated according to the group's requests.

I’ll tell you what needs to happen – Minnesota needs to follow a number of other states in enacting a “Tax Me More” fund for those who feel like they need to be taxed more. But if Minnesota does so, it will likely experience the same thing as those other states – those who claim to be under-taxed won’t put their money where their mouth is by ponying up the “excess personal wealth” that they think rightly belongs to the government and not themselves. Apparently they believe that it is everyone else – but not themselves – who is undertaxed.







|| Greg, 05:15 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Apologize?

Let’s face it – Helen Thomas is an ugly woman with an ugly personality.

A congressman in Iowa has apologized for disparaging comments he made about a veteran White House correspondent, according to a Local 6 News report.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa was talking about the death of terrorist leader Musab al-Zarqawi when he mentioned reporter Helen Thomas.

"There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he's at," King said about al-Zarqawi. "And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas."
A representative for King said he has apologized to Thomas.

Let’s all be honest here – in our heart of hearts, we all hope that al-Zarqawi found something like what King suggested, or worse.







|| Greg, 05:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Petition To End Houston's DeFacto Sanctuary Policy

Citizens in Houston have announced a petition drive to put a measure on the ballot ending the de facto sanctuary policy for illegal immigrants.

The heated national debate on immigration may give a boost to the Houston group that wants local police to help crack down on illegal immigrants, but getting the proposition on the ballot still won't be easy.

"It is a lot of effort and takes a lot of volunteers to mount a campaign like this," said Bruce Hotze, who has helped organize several successful petition drives but so far is not involved in this one. "It can be done."

On Tuesday, a new group called Protect Our Citizens announced a petition drive to require a citywide November vote on the contentious issue of whether to allow city police to question people about their immigration status.

Even with the recent spotlight on immigration issues, getting the necessary 20,000 signatures from registered Houston voters by Sept. 1 will take organization, volunteers and money, analysts said.

"It's doable," said University of Houston political scientist and pollster Richard Murray. "They'd have to hit the ground running."

Protect Our Citizens director Mary Williams said the group is doing that. It was contacted Wednesday by several community leaders and residents who wanted to help with the project, she said.

"It's a very basic grass-roots type of reaction," Williams said.

Petition supporters want to change a Houston police order, which they call a "sanctuary policy," that prohibits officers from seeking information about the immigration status of people they encounter, and from detaining anyone solely for being in the country illegally.

It is time to pull up the welcome mat for illegals in Houston.







|| Greg, 05:13 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

WMD?

But will the mere discovery of WMDs be sufficient to get opponents of the war to admit that there were WMDs in Iraq?

The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

He added that the report warns about the hazards that the chemical weapons could still pose to coalition troops in Iraq.

"The purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," Santorum read from the document.

"This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.

Hoekstra said the report, completed in April but only declassified now, shows that "there is still a lot about Iraq that we don't fully understand."

I think it is clear that most of us understand -- it is instead a question of certain partisans choosing to ignore these weapons for political purposes. After all, there have been reports in the press repeatedly since 2003 that have indicated the discovery of these small caches of WMDs -- which are then routinely ignored by the opponents of the war, who continue with their zombie-like monotone mantra of "Bush lied, people died."

And while it may be that these weapons were not, at the time of discovery, operational, it is clear that Saddam repeatedly lied about having destroyed all of his WMDs following the Gulf War, as required by the UN.







|| Greg, 05:06 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Heaven On A Bun?

Move over Hardee's ThickBurger -- this is the new heart attack on a bun.

A hundred bucks might buy you more than six dozen burgers from McDonald's, but the swanky Old Homestead Steakhouse will sell you one brawny beef sandwich for the same price.

Boca Raton Mayor Steven Abrams could barely speak between bites as he devoured the 20-ounce, $100 hamburger billed as the "beluga caviar of sandwiches."

"Heaven on a bun," restaurant owner Marc Sherry said.

The burger debuted Tuesday at the restaurant in the Boca Raton Resort and Club, where a membership costs $40,000 and an additional $3,600 a year.

"We've never had a hamburger on our menu here so we really wanted to go to the extreme," Sherry said, calling it "the most decadent burger in the world."

At about 5 1/2 inches across and 2 1/2 inches thick, the mound of meat is comprised of beef from three continents — American prime beef, Japanese Kobe and Argentine cattle.

The bill for one burger, with garnishing that includes organic greens, exotic mushrooms and tomatoes, comes out to $124.50 with tax and an 18 percent tip included. The restaurant will donate $10 from each sale to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

And yes, I realize you can get bigger burgers elsewhere -- I was referring to the price-tag as the source of the cardiac arrest.







|| Greg, 04:42 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 21, 2006

Troops Charged --A Proper Decision

It pains me to type those words. Having grown up in a military family, I would like to believe that each and every soldier is a hero in uniform, flawlessly following the rules and orders laid out for them.

But having grown up surrounded by sailors and Marines, I know that isn't the case. I still remember the night that my father got a telephone call telling him that two sailors from his command were dead and a third was in critical condition at a local hospital -- because one of the dead sailors had shot his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in a jealous rage. The ultimate result of an act of impassioned rage was three dead sailors. All the training in the world cannot stop someone from going off half-cocked -- we are still dealing with human beings who will sometimes choose to do evil.

Which brings us to these charges.

Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman have been charged with murder and kidnapping in connection with the April death of an Iraqi man in a small village west of Baghdad, Marine Corps officials announced yesterday.

The corps said that the eight sought out Hashim Ibrahim Awad in his Hamdaniyah home, dragged him into the street, bound his hands and feet, and shot him during a late-night operation, according to Marine criminal-charge sheets released yesterday. The troops are members of a fire team with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. It is unclear what motivated the attack.

After an investigation, charges have been brought and a trial will be held. These servicement will be given the opportunity to show their evidence, while the government will be given the opportunity to prove their guilt. When criminal behavior is believed to have taken place, we bring charges and provide the accused with due process. THAT IS HOW AMERICANS DO THINGS.

What are they accused of having done?

Officials here disclosed little information about the case itself. But earlier this month, Marine officials and members of Congress who had been briefed on the case said the eight men appeared to have dragged a 52-year-old Iraqi man from his house in the town of Hamdaniya, west of Baghdad, on April 26, and shot him without provocation.

They said the marines had then placed a shovel and bomb components near the man's body to make it seem that he had been digging a hole for a roadside explosive, and also placed an AK-47 near his body.

I do not begin to claim knowledge of the truth of these charges. I do, however, have faith in the system under which they have been charged and under which they will be tried. It works -- I've seen it work.

There are those out there who are kicking up a fuss about these charges, claiming that they should not have been brought and that American servicement should not be punished for any action they commit in the theater of war. That goes against every American tradition -- and would make us no better than the jihadis we fight. We punish those of our troops who commit inhuman acts against the laws of war and civilized society -- it is our jihadi enemy who glorifies and rewards such barbarism.

And to those who argue that this prosecution is a sham and that the charges are a result of a PC desire to appease the Left, the media, or the "world community", I offer this suggestion -- you are showing the same sort of contempt for our nation's military that those groups do on a daily basis, and you are saying that the US military and US government deserve exactly the sort of scorn those unworthies heap upon them. In short, you have become the very thing you claim to hate.

UPDATE: I particularly like this analysis.

Gary Solis, a professor of the law of war at Georgetown University, said it is unfortunate that the cases have surfaced at the same time, because they provide an impression of a military run amok in Iraq. He said that fatal mistakes are common in war, and that the key to these investigations will probably be to determine whether the troops planned the alleged attacks.

"Where is the line? The line is premeditation," Solis said of wartime killings. "If you make a mistake, you're not going to be investigated. The only guys that have to be worried are those that have thought about doing it and then do it."

In other words, it really comes down to the question of whether or not these guys made a conscious decision to go out and kill an innocent man not engaged in hostile actions. If they did, that is MURDER and they merit harsh punishment -- at least if one holds to American values and not those of the jihadis.

MORE AT Confessions of a Pilgrim, A Tale of Two Cultures, Blue Star Chronicles, A Lady's Ruminations, Blogs of War, Stop the ACLU, California Conservative, Michelle Malkin, Cao's Blog





» The Glittering Eye links with: Eye on the Watcher’s Council
» Watcher of Weasels links with: The Council Has Spoken!



|| Greg, 10:37 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (2) ||

New Episcopal Head Gives Jesus A Sex Change

If this is representative of mainstream Episcopal theology, I'd have to say that the Episcopal Church USA is a post-Christian denomination.

While addressing a morning Eucharist at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop-elect Katherine Jefferts Schori declared, "Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation. And you and I are His children."

With Jefferts Schori as the leader-to-be of the Episcopal Chuch, it seems that the church will move beyond gender-inclusive language to transgender-inclusive language.

Yesterday however, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops refused to even consider a resolution that would affirm the exclusive Lordship of Jesus Christ as "the only name by which any person may be saved." The Rev. Canon Eugene McDowell of the Diocese of North Carolina explained, "This type of language was used in 1920s and 1930s to alienate the type of people who were executed. It was called the Holocaust."

Perhaps Episcopalians would be more receptive of a resolution affirming the supreme transexuality of Jesus.

So let me see if I have this straight (forgive the exclusive language) -- the ECUSA will not affirm a fundamental point of the historic Christian faith contained in Scripture, but it will fiddle around with Jesus' genitals. How can a Christian actually stay a member?

UPDATE: More in The Times of London.







|| Greg, 04:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Courage And Integrity On Voting Rights Act

Bravo for those who are delaying the renewal of parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which were originally intended to expire in 1970. Why do I say this? Because they discriminate against a few states and localities.

House Republican leaders on Wednesday postponed a vote on renewing the 1965 Voting Rights Act after GOP lawmakers complained it unfairly singles out nine Southern states for federal oversight, according to their joint statement.

"We have time to address their concerns," Republican leaders said in a joint statement. "Therefore, the House Republican Leadership will offer members the time needed to evaluate the legislation."

It was unclear whether the legislation would come up this year. The temporary provisions don't expire until 2007, but leaders of both parties had hoped to pass the act and use it to further their prospects in the fall's midterm elections.
The statement said the GOP leaders are committed to renewing the law "as soon as possible."

There are two special areas of concern among those who question the blind renewal of the four-decade old provisions -- pre-clearance requirements for election changes in nine states, and non-English ballots.

The most important element appears to be the pre-clearance question.

Several Republicans, led by [Rep. Lynn] Westmoreland, had worked to allow an amendment that would ease a requirement that nine states win permission from the Justice Department or a federal judge to change their voting rules.

The amendment's backers say the requirement unfairly singles out and holds accountable nine states that practiced racist voting policies decades ago, based on 1964 voter turnout data: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Westmoreland says the formula for deciding which states are subject to such "pre-clearance" should be updated every four years and be based on voter turnout in the most recent three elections.

"The pre-clearance portions of the Voting Rights Act should apply to all states, or no states," Westmoreland said. "Singling out certain states for special scrutiny no longer makes sense."

No one disputes that there were voting problems in these states in 1964. The historical record is clear. But the very Congress that passed this law in 1965 did so with a sunset provision for pre-clearance that eliminated it in 1970. The provision was allowed to lapse by Jimmy Carter and a Democrat-controlled Congress in 1980, only to be revived under the GOP two years later. But the time has come to do one of two things -- either expand the scope of the pre-clearance provision to include all 50 states or eliminate it completely as the law's authors intended. Rep. Westmoreland's proposal is, if anything, a weak fall-back position -- though it would at least end the use of data which, when the provision is next up for renewal, will be 68 years old. After all, as matters no stand, a change in election law that would be beyond question in Massachusetts could be treated as a violation of the Voting Rights Act in Texas.

As for the language requirements, those who fail to become proficient in English have chosen to exclude themselves from the civic life of this country. Surveys have shown that most Americans do not support providing ballots in languages other than English. The renewal bill, on the other hand, would continue the mandate.

The other big issue centered on requirements that certain jurisdictions offer bilingual ballots and language assistance to citizens whose English lags. But Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King and other lawmakers who oppose the bilingual rules were not going to have a chance to offer amendments.

King said in a statement it was irresponsible to "institutionalize multilingual voting for the next 25 years." He said bilingual voting, which was not part of the original voting rights bill but was added a decade later, drives "a wedge between cultures."

In other words, the House Leadership was out to silence those who would dissent on this provision that also helps illegal aliens vote illegally. While I do not find this provision to be nearly so odious as the pre-clearance provision, I would prefer to see it eliminated after having experienced the wasted time, money and manpower that goes into providing assistance to a mere handful of voters in most polling places during my years as an election judge (I must have Vietnamese material in my precinct, but have only had one person need it in the last five years -- an have had fewer than 10 voters need my Spanish-language clerk in that time).

Oh, and by the way -- the major case currently underway regarding language issues regards practices in Boston.

Now please realize that the failure to renew these provisions does not repeal anyone's right to vote. it does not even result in the elimination of the Voting Rights Act -- it simply allows the end of a couple of provisions that the law's authors never intended to be in force this long.

Previously:
Do Not Renew Voting Rights Act Provisions
Voting Rights Don't Expire In 2007 -- Or Ever

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT: Bacon Bits, Stuck On Stupid, Dumb Ox, Cigar Intelligence Agency, Adam's Blog, Blue Star Chronicles, Conservative Cat







|| Greg, 04:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

WaPo – Islamo-Nazis Deserve More Rights, Better Treatment Than Real Nazis

Because they operate in violation of the Geneva Conventions, of course.

Not every detainee can be put on trial. But those who plan, assist or participate in acts of terrorism can face charges under the laws of war. Where trials are possible, criminal convictions provide a more legitimate basis for long-term incarceration than any kind of detention without charge. Trials also provide public accountability for unspeakable crimes and plots -- that is, they provide a measure of justice.

The administration is correct that U.S. federal courts often will not be the right venue for such trials. Evidence collected in the rough and tumble of a shooting war doesn't always meet the rigorous standards that courts here rightly demand. The government may have good reason to withhold witnesses or classified information. Given that foreigners abroad do not have full constitutional rights, the administration's impulse to create an alternative trial mechanism with some flexibility was reasonable. Had it gone to Congress and sought authorization to use a variation of military courts-martial, with clear rules and a codification of the offenses such tribunals were to judge, it might today have a vibrant system of justice at Guantanamo Bay.

Instead, the administration sought to rewrite the rules from scratch and revive a system of trial not seen since the World War II era. The reason for this fateful error was largely ideological: The White House wished not merely to conduct trials but also to emphasize the president's power to do it on his own.

Consequently, the executive branch alone has defined the offenses to be tried by commission and it alone has written the trial rules, which have shifted repeatedly. The legality of the system has been in doubt from its inception. And while the rules have improved over time, they still permit unfairness. The result: a system that inspires little confidence here or abroad and that in five years has yet to produce one trial.

Even if the Supreme Court erases the cloud of legal uncertainty in the coming days, it makes no sense to proceed in this fashion. Instead, Congress should write a law clarifying that courts-martial will try these cases and modifying the model if necessary. The military uses this system to try its own personnel every day. More than the commissions, courts-martial would guarantee due process to detainees: the right to challenge evidence, a full appeal to the federal courts. Trials by court-martial are accepted around the world as fair.

At the same time, the system could be modified to take into account the government's needs in a continuing war. These might give prosecutors more leeway to use hearsay evidence in some cases, or to protect intelligence secrets. There may be circumstances when the accused will need to be excluded from proceedings and have his interests represented by counsel cleared to handle sensitive information. But such departures from traditional trial rules should be narrowly drawn. They should be the product of a deliberative legislative process, not a fiat from the executive branch; written into law, not existing as rules the Pentagon can change whenever convenient.

The conflict with Islamic extremists will not be over soon. The nation needs now, and will continue to need, a means to try some of the most fateful criminals of all time according to fair rules that bear the stamp of democratic approval: legislative enactment. Only the administration's rigidly ideological approach to this problem prevents its timely resolution.

The only problem with the Post’s position is that it is 100% wrong, and seeks to create a new justice system at odds with the traditional manner used by the United States for dealing with unlawful combatants. These folks are not criminals in the traditional sense, and have no rights or expectation of being allowed the protections of the US Constitution, which they seek to destroy. Instead, they merit nothing more than the justice approved by the Supreme Court in the Quirin case during WWII – a trial before a military tribunal, appealed directly to the President, followed by a quick execution. Unless, of course, the Washington Post seeks this a new system today because finds the terrorists more to its liking than the genocidal Hitler regime, or is less supportive of the war we fight because of the 9/11 attack than it was of the war fought following Pearl Harbor.

Personally, I believe that if the tribunal system was good enough for spies and saboteurs sent to destroy the United States by Hitler, it is good enough for the jihadi swine that have made war upon our nation today. How can anyone disagree with such a proposition?

Ed Morrissey examines the historical implementation of these tribunals quite well.

In wartime, no enemy has any right to a trial until the war has finished. For instance, the British did not try Rudolf Hess in 1941 despite his one-man invasion of Britain. The Brits simply kept him imprisoned in the Tower until the Nuremberg trials sentenced him to life imprisonment. Hess, as Deputy Fuhrer, had no need of tribunal for that imprisonment, and the British had no need to try him until after victory had been secured.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has no right to trial or even to an administrative hearing during wartime. The Bush administration has correctly determined that al-Qaeda (and its affiliated terrorist groups) is an enemy at war, and that those who have identified themselves as leaders have given the US all it needs to hold them indefinitely. Trying to give them a right to a trial in the middle of a war does not serve victory or even legitimacy, but instead undermines the truth. In order to provide a legitimate trial, the defendant has to have a chance of being released if no conviction can be obtained. Does the Post truly think that the US and the war effort will be served by Mohammed's release if a court cannot make a specific trial determination of his connection to an act of war (9/11)? If the Post doesn't agree to his release under that circumstance, then isn't insisting on a trial a highly cycnical and hypocritical act?

We need to remember that Islamist terrorists declared war on the US almost a decade ago and initiated a series of escalating attacks on us to prosecute it. That effort culminated in 9/11, which the Bush administration correctly determined as an act of war. We need to continue fighting it as a war. We do not need to make ourselves feel good by pretending that our enemy has the same legal standing as urban gangs.

Indeed, following the course proposed by the Washington Post can have result in only two things – sham trials of terrorist defendants or the undercutting of the war effort in the courtroom. Neither is acceptable.







|| Greg, 02:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Murtha Corrupt? It Looks That Way

What other word would you apply to a congressman who pressured government officials to award contracts to clients of a family member’s lobbying firm when there were other competitors better for the job, and pushed deals that would be financially beneficial to family members of his political allies?

Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported how the ranking member on the defense appropriations subcommittee has a brother, Robert Murtha, whose lobbying firm represents 10 companies that received more than $20 million from last year's defense spending bill. "Clients of the lobbying firm KSA Consulting -- whose top officials also include former congressional aide Carmen V. Scialabba, who worked for Rep. Murtha as a congressional aide for 27 years -- received a total of $20.8 million from the bill," the L.A. Times reported.

In early 2004, according to Roll Call, Mr. Murtha "reportedly leaned on U.S. Navy officials to sign a contract to transfer the Hunters Point Shipyard to the city of San Francisco." Laurence Pelosi, nephew of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at the time was an executive of the company which owned the rights to the land. The same article also reported how Mr. Murtha has been behind millions of dollars worth of earmarks in defense appropriations bills that went to companies owned by the children of fellow Pennsylvania Democrat, Rep. Paul Kanjorski. Meanwhile, the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign-finance watchdog group, lists Mr. Murtha as the top recipient of defense industry dollars in the current 2006 election cycle.

As Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, has said, "If there is a potential pattern where Congressman Murtha has helped other Democrats secure appropriations that also benefited relatives of those members, I believe this would be something that merits further review by the ethics committee."

Remember, this is the same Jack Murtha who was up to his ears in the Abscam scandal but managed to skate after being named an unindicted co-conspirator by the Carter Justice Department. So questions about Jack Murtha being dirty are not new – they are long-standing and substantive. Heck, if he had an (R) after his name, he would be a daily target for Democrats – consider what was done to my former congressman (Tom DeLay) with substantially less evidence of wrong-doing.







|| Greg, 02:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hurrah For Mitt On Immigration

Well, at least one GOP presidential hopeful is willing to step up and try to do something about illegal immigration. That candidate is Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

Governor Mitt Romney is seeking an agreement with federal authorities that would allow Massachusetts state troopers to arrest undocumented immigrants for being in the country illegally.

Currently, State Police have no authority to arrest people on the basis of their immigration status alone, said Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. If they arrest immigrants for violations of state law, troopers can call a centralized US Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Vermont to check on their status, and can detain immigrants if federal officials request it.

Under the agreement Romney is seeking, troopers would have greatly expanded powers: They could check an immigrant's legal status during routine patrols such as during a traffic stop and decide whether the immigrant should be held.

``It's one more thing you can do to make this a less attractive place for illegal aliens to come to work," Romney said.

The governor has instructed his legal counsel to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin the process. The powers, Romney said, would give the State Police a way of ``finding and detaining illegal aliens in the ordinary course of business."

Federal immigration authorities would provide the troopers with 4 1/2 weeks of training in immigration laws and procedures, civil rights, and avoiding racial profiling.

If the proposal is approved, Massachusetts would join a handful of states and localities that have entered into such pacts since they were first authorized in 1996. That list includes Florida, Alabama, and a few counties in California and North Carolina, where a limited number of officers have been trained to enforce immigration laws.

This move is an exemplary one – and I encourage my own governor, Rick Perry, to implement the same policy here in Texas.







|| Greg, 02:55 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Immigration Law Delay

It looks like there will be no immigration reform before the election in November.

In a defeat for President Bush, Republican congressional leaders said Tuesday that broad immigration legislation is all but doomed for the year, a victim of election-year concerns in the House and conservatives' implacable opposition to citizenship for

"Our number one priority is to secure the border, and right now I haven't heard a lot of pressure to have a path to citizenship," said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., announcing plans for an unusual series of hearings to begin in August on Senate-passed immigration legislation.

"I think it is easy to say the first priority of the House is to secure the borders," added Rep. Roy Blunt (news, bio, voting record), the GOP whip.

This isn't a defeat for the president so much as it is a defeat for the American people, as every delay in getting a handle on the immigration issue allows that many more illegals across teh border, that many more anchor babies to be born, and increases teh expense to taxpayers.

Not that Hastert's rhetoric is wrong -- we need immigration reform that actually considers what the American people want.

"We are going to listen to the American people, and we are going to get a bill that is right," said Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who said he had informed Mr. Bush of the plan.

But what that means is that the negotiations for a new bill will not begin until after Labor Day -- making the volatile issue a bit too hot to handle in the weeks leading up to the election, with all sides engaging in rhetorical excesses in an attempt to get votes rather than make good policy. We are already seeing some of that now.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino sought to put the House announcement in a positive light, saying the field hearings could "possibly provide an opportunity to air out issues" that she conceded are "complex." But she added: "The president is undeterred in his efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform."

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who is leading the fight against the Senate plan, said: "Odds were long that any so-called 'compromise bill' would get to the president's desk this year. . . . The nail was already put in the coffin of the Senate's amnesty plan. These hearings probably lowered it into the grave."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the main authors of the Senate plan, called the announcement "a cynical delaying tactic."

So expect immigration to be a major issue in the fall elections, but do not expect there to be any significant results until 2007 -- which means that GOP efforts to retain control of thehouse and Senate are vital if there is any hope of avoiding a bill with real amnesty provisions and little in the way of border control.







|| Greg, 05:18 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cattle Rustling In Texas

Yeah, it still goes on -- and one ring got a bunch of cows from the ranch of baseball great Nolan Ryan.

Authorities said Tuesday they have cracked a cattle-rustling operation that stretched across eight counties and claimed 289 head, including 17 cows and 30 calves belonging to Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

The total value of the stolen livestock was estimated at up to $300,000.

Authorities recovered 83 head this week from the pastures of a Brazoria County cattle rancher who authorities say has confessed to the thefts.

"He comes from a ranching family, knows the business, knows cattle," said Brent Mast, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association special ranger based in Willis. "He's knowledgeable enough about the business to know how to steal cattle, brand registration, and he knew the proper way to hide stolen cattle, if there's a proper way to hide stolen cattle."

The rancher, who has not been charged, faces 14 counts of cattle theft, a third-degree felony. The investigation remains ongoing, and authorities did not rule out that others could face charges.

Special Texas Ranger Tommy Johnson said police plodded through rain-soaked pastures in Angleton on Monday and expect to recover another 10 to 15 stolen animals at another pasture as soon as the fields dry.

He said the suspect is expected to surrender today.

When you consider how we used to deal with cattle-rustling in texas, it seems to me that this guy is getting off easy. It used to be a hanging offense -- and if the victims didn't wait for a trial before imposing the penalty, it was considered to be a justified homicide.







|| Greg, 05:03 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Democrat Fundraising Hypocrisy

Presidents have become the most important fundraisers for their parties, so it should be no surprise that President Bush is in demand as a fundraiser for the GOP. Take this example.

At a gala dinner on Monday, Republicans raised a whopping $27 million for candidates in the November midterm election in a bid to fend off a strong challenge by Democrats for control of the U.S. Congress.

President George W. Bush was the headliner at the 2006 President's Dinner gala, typically one of the biggest fund-raising events of the election cycle.

"We're going to keep the House and we're going to keep the Senate thanks to you all," Bush told a crowd of about 6,000 people at the Washington convention center.

The $27 million included $15 million for candidates for the House of Representatives and $12 million for Senate candidates. Bush acknowledged it was an "incredibly successful dinner."

But, of course, the Democrats ave found a way to bash the Bresident over this.

"President Bush's big money fundraiser tonight proves once again that he puts the needs of his special interest corporate friends ahead of the priorities of the American people," said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney.

Really, Ms. Finney? You mean there are no fundraising galas by Democrats? I recall many during Clinton years, and during both the Gore and Kerrrey campaigns -- star-studded events in which millions were raised. Is this criticism a sign tha the Democrats have sworn off large fundraisers and donations from millionaires? Or simply that you consider YOUR mega-rich donors to be "just plain folks" while GOP donors are evil? Don't answer, because we all know that what you would say would not be what you mean -- and that your criticism of the president won't be valid until your party voluntarily caps donations at $500 per donor. Otherwise, you are just hypocritically condemning the president for the same sort of fundraising done by Democrats.







|| Greg, 04:57 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Should We Be Surprised?

After all, the Iranians sent little kids into minefield during the Iran-Iraq War with promises of paradise -- why should we be surprised at this Taliban attempt to make martyrs out of unarmed innocents?

TALEBAN fighters used women and children as human shields as they tried to escape into the mountains of Afghanistan, British troops claimed yesterday.

The tactics were revealed in the first account by those who fought in one of the main battles faced by the men of 3 Para and the Royal Gurkha Rifles in Helmand province, where 3,300 British troops are stationed.

The Taleban’s use of human shields happened during a six-hour battle that began when British troops arrived in a remote area to flush out a suspected Taleban hideout.

They came under attack seven times and fired 2,000 rounds as the rebels set ambushes and opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades. About 21 Taleban were killed.

“It happened twice where they pushed women and children in front of them. The first time they ran into a compound and pushed them out the front to stop the assault,” said Corporal Quintin Poll, 29, from Norfolk.

“The second time they were firing through a building with women and children inside. My guys had to go around the left and right to get them.”

Details of the battle, which happened to the west of the town of Nauzad on June 4, were given by troops at the British base of Camp Bastion.

It took place in the run-up to Operation Mountain Thrust, in which 11,000 troops from Britain, US, Canada and Afghanistan are co-operating to clear Taleban strongholds in the province.

Captain Quarters' Ed Morrissey makes the following observation.

This has two purposes for the Taliban. First, it keeps Western forces from firing on them, as they know that Coalition troops will try to protect civilians where possible. Secondly as just as importantly from a strategic point of view, any women and children killed in the battle will almost certainly be blamed on the Western forces by the Western media. It allows the Taliban to continue their propaganda blitz against the West, one in which the media has unwittingly (in most cases) found themselves a pawn to the Islamists.

Men who throw women and children in the line of fire to protect themselves have no honor, no courage, and no claim to religious righteousness under any circumstances. It's high time that the West grows up and understands the cowardly nature of tyrannies and the people who impose them. It will give us much more clarity in the effort that needs to be made to rid ourselves of the craven ghouls who prey on civilian populations for their own delusions of grandeur.

I agree whole-heartedly -- and cannot help but be struck by the fact that pro-jihadi groups like CAIR demanded that the Marines investigate one of their own who dared to sing a song about using a child as a human shield -- but cannot be bothered to condemn the actual use of children as human shields.







|| Greg, 04:42 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 20, 2006

Just A Reminder

I'm glad this guy is headed to prison. That is where corrupt government officials belong.

And while the Left is making hay over the conviction of a Bush Administration official, I'd like to remind them of who is responsible for this prosecution -- the Bush Justice Department.

David H. Safavian, a former Bush administration official with close ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was found guilty today in federal court of four of five felony charges against him in connection with the Abramoff corruption and influence-peddling scandal.

The verdict was announced shortly after the jury of two men and 10 women began their fifth day of deliberations in Washington following the trial of Safavian on charges of making false statements to federal officials and obstruction of justice.

Safavian, 38, a former chief of staff of the General Services Administration and top federal procurement officer, was accused of lying about a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland with Abramoff and obstructing an investigation by the GSA inspector general and other investigators. He was also charged with concealing his efforts to help Abramoff acquire control of two federally managed properties in the Washington area.

He became the first person to be put on trial in connection with Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to fraud and conspiracy charges. Four other former Abramoff associates also have pleaded guilty so far. As part of their plea deals, they have agreed to cooperate in an investigation of Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and other lawmakers allegedly embroiled in a broad public corruption scandal involving the acceptance of various inducements in return for official acts. Ney denies any wrongdoing.

The jury found Safavian guilty of three counts of making false statements -- to the GSA Office of Inspector General, a GSA ethics official and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee -- and one count of obstructing the GSA inspector general's investigation. He was acquitted of another charge of obstructing an investigation by the Indian Affairs Committee.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Safavian thus faces up to 20 years in prison for the four counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 12 by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.

So let's remember this very simple point -- the Bush Justice Department has prosecuted a Bush official and obtained a conviction. On the other hand, how many Clinton officials were pursued by the Clinton Justice Department -- as opposed to special prosecutors. My point? Which administration was willing to deal with its own problems, and which had to be policed from outside due to the gross amounts of corruption manifested from Day One?







|| Greg, 08:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Terrorists Mutilate, Booby-Trap Soldiers

After reading this, I can guarantee I will personally kick the crap out of anyone attempting to draw moral equivalence betwee the US military and the jihadi swine who perpetrated these actions.

he bodies of two U.S. soldiers found in Iraq Monday night were mutilated and booby-trapped, military sources said Tuesday.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon, went missing after a Friday attack on a traffic control checkpoint in Yusufiya, 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

The sources said the two men had suffered severe trauma.

The bodies also had been desecrated and a visual identification was impossible -- part of the reason DNA testing was being conducted to verify their identities, the sources said.

A tip from Iraqi civilians led officials to the bodies, military sources told CNN. The discovery was made about 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Not only were the bodies booby-trapped, but homemade bombs also lined the road leading to the victims, an apparent effort to complicate recovery efforts and target recovery teams, the sources said.

It took troops 12 hours to clear the area of roadside bombs. One of the bombs exploded, but there were no injuries.

Compare that with the honorable treatment we gave to the corpses of the jihadi cowards who suicided in Gitmo, and then talk to me about moral equivalence.







|| Greg, 07:28 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Who Is Worse -- Coulter Or Moore?

We've heard a lot of liberal outrage over certain comments made by Ann Coulter about the Jersey Girls -- comments that I wish she had not made. However, I don't recall liberal (or media) outrage over this Michael Moore letter to Elian Gonzalez.

In 2000 Michael Moore wrote a famous letter to Elian Gonzalez. Among the highlights: “your mother decided to kidnap you … in Cuba, you were in jeopardy of receiving free health care whenever you needed it, an excellent education in one of the few countries that has 100% literacy … your mother snatched you and put you on that death boat because she simply wanted to make more money. Your mother placed you in a situation where you were certain to die on the open seas and that is unconscionable. It was the ultimate form of child abuse.”

Attacking a dead mother for trying to free her child from Castro's gulag -- especially when combined with his history of anti-Cuban bigotry -- should rate a condemnation from the Left.

But I guess not -- after all, freedom-loving Cubans vote Republican, so they are entitled to neithyer respect nor decency, even when they die to free their children.







|| Greg, 05:56 PM || Permalink || Comments

Watchers Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Spinning Their Way to Defeat in November by Right Wing Nut House, and One Liberal’s Argument for Still Staying in Iraq by A Newer World

Here are your links to the full results of the vote.







|| Greg, 04:37 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Missing Soldiers Found Dead?

This report just in from CNN and other sources. It appears that the two servicement missing since the ambus over teh weekend have been found dead, killed by Iraqi terrorists.

A high-ranking official with the Iraqi defense ministry told CNN on Tuesday that the bodies of two missing U.S. soldiers have been found south of Baghdad.

No more details were immediately available. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the report.

A senior U.S. official told CNN that two bodies had been found in Iraq but could not confirm that those bodies were the two soldiers.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., went missing Friday at a traffic checkpoint near the town of Yusufiya, 12 miles (20 km) south of Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said the bodies were found in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, 50 miles (80 km) south of Baghdad.

The U.S. military said Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was killed in the same attack Friday.

A force of more than 8,000 Iraqi and U.S. troops has been searching for the two soldiers.

In Houston, a member of Menchaca's family said they had not been notified.

There is only one response to this butchery of prisoners -- victory, not the Left-wing cut 7 Run solutions proposed by Democrats. We must fight until every terrorist, insurgent, or what-have-you is run to ground.

MORE AT Stop the ACLU, Wizbang, Outside the Beltway, Life, Florida, Whatever, Pajamas Media, OpinionBug







|| Greg, 06:03 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cut & Jog Democrats

Last week they voted against a timetable to leave Iraq. This week, they are trying to craft one. When will the Senate Democrats make up their minds?

Trying to bridge party divisions on the eve of a Senate debate, leading Democrats called Monday for American troops to begin pulling out of Iraq this year. They avoided setting a firm timetable for withdrawal but argued that the Bush administration's open-ended commitment to the war would only prevent Iraqis from moving forward on their own.

Coming the week after partisan and often angry House debate over the war, the Senate proposal, a nonbinding resolution, was carefully worded to deflect any accusations that the Democrats were "cutting and running," as their position has been depicted by Republicans. The Democrats behind the measure did not even use the word "withdrawal," and talked about how to guarantee "success" for Iraq, not about any failures of the war.

"The administration's policy to date — that we'll be there for as long as Iraq needs us — will result in Iraq's depending upon us longer," said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, who has been designated by the Democratic leadership to present the party's strategy on Iraq. "Three and a half years into the conflict, we should tell the Iraqis that the American security blanket is not permanent."

In other words, this is a resolution that looks good to the hard Left base of the Democrat Party, but does nothing so as not to alienate the rest of America.

I like Mitch McConnell's characterization of the proposal -- "cut & jog". And he is absolutely correct when he notes that the ehtire Democrat plan is poorly thought out.

"The last thing you want to do when you have the terrorists on the run is give them notice that you're going to leave," said Mr. McConnell, the Senate's No. 2 Republican.

When at war, you stay until you utterly defeat your enemy -- and you certainly don't give tell him that you are going to give up and walk away after a certain date. This isn't boxing with a set number of 3-minute rounds -- this is a fight for civilization against the enemies of all mankind.







|| Greg, 05:17 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Vault Full Of History

Riggs Bank was the most important financial institution in Washington for years. Now that it has been purchased by PNC, the old records in one vault are being scrutinized -- as it contains the financial records of many well-known historical figures.

On Aug. 28, 1861, a month after the Union Army's disastrous defeat at the first Battle of Bull Run, President Abraham Lincoln sat down and wrote out a Riggs Bank check for $3 to "Mr. Johns (a sick man)."

It is not known who Johns was, where Lincoln encountered him or what prompted the beleaguered president to pause amid the opening weeks of the Civil War to give him a donation.

It is but a tantalizing shard of local history, one of the thousands that reside not in the National Archives or Library of Congress but behind the thick steel door of a 40-year-old basement bank vault in downtown Washington, where the question has become: What to do with them?

The Lincoln check is among a trove of documents gathered over the decades by Washington's venerable and now-defunct Riggs Bank -- which, along with its antecedents, had customers ranging from Davy Crockett to President George H.W. Bush.

The collection includes letters, notes and checks written by, among others, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Brigham Young and Gen. John Pershing.

Now, Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, which took over Riggs on May 13, 2005, is in the midst of a project to gather and inventory the artifacts, which include shelves of crumbling ledgers that go back a century and a half.

John Tydings, director of the PNC-Riggs Bank archives project, said last week that PNC has never acquired such a collection. PNC "recognized the need to address this in a much more sensitive way because of the connection of these records to the history of this country, as well as the history of the bank and the history of the city," he said.

What insights into the personalities and habits of historical figures might we get? What scandals might be revealed -- or laid to rest? I envy the historian put in charge of this project -- Mary Beth Corrigan -- who will have the honor and pleasure of cataloging and preserving the precious documents.

Of particular interest to me? The Lincoln account, for it seems that the president was in the habit of wandering the streets of Washington, and he would often engage in personal works of charity as he did so, writing checks like the one mentioned earlier when he was particularly moved.







|| Greg, 05:03 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

But Who Would They Vote For?

Looks like Americans have a number of candidates they oppose in 2008 -- but not any who they particulalry support.

Regarding potential Democratic candidates, 47 percent of respondents said they would "definitely vote against" both Clinton, the junior senator from New York who is running for re-election this year, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party's candidate in 2004. (Poll)

Forty-eight percent said the same of former Vice President Al Gore, who has repeatedly denied he intends to run again for president.

Among the Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani fared better than the Democrats, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fared worse.

Only 30 percent said they would "definitely vote against" Giuliani; 34 percent said that of McCain.

As for Bush, brother of the current president, 63 percent said there was no way he would get their vote. The younger Bush has denied interest in running for president in 2008.

One would think that means smooth sailing for McCain or Giuliani -- but that isn't the case.

Among all choices, Clinton had the highest positive number; of those polled, 22 percent said they would "definitely vote for" her.

Giuliani was next with 19 percent, followed by Gore with 17 percent, Kerry with 14 percent, McCain with 12 percent and Bush at 9 percent.

This telephone poll of 1,001 adult Americans was conducted June 1-6 by Harris Interactive for CNN. The poll had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

So waht I'm seeing is a bunch of leading candidates with high negatives and little in the way of positive support. That means there is plenty of room for a candidate to arise from outside the group that conventional wisdom seems to lean towards as "leading candidates".

However, Captain's Quarters makes an important point about this poll.

It certainly has some interest, but at this stage of the process this poll is hardly determinative. The race will not begin even preliminarily until next summer, and the upcoming midterms may have a tremendous impact on these numbers, especially for Hillary. I would be interested to see the same poll twelve months from now. In the meantime, the poll is notable for who has apparently been left out: Mark Warner and Barack Obama for the Democrats (as well as John Edwards, who has slipped through all the cracks), and Mitt Romney, George Allen, and Condi Rice for the GOP, the latter just for the fun of seeing how those numbers would look.

There are real and potential candidates out there besides those included in this poll. Furthermore, there is still time for a surprise or two to emerge -- perhaps Newt Gingrich? -- and take the nomination orf one or both parties by storm. Could 2008 be another 1968 or 1988?







|| Greg, 04:50 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 19, 2006

Another DeLay Delay

Damn -- the motion to remove the Delay Replacement Case to federal court won't be heard until June 26.

federal judge on Monday set a June 26 hearing for a Democratic Party lawsuit that attempts to block Republicans from moving ahead to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot.

Judge Sam Sparks left in place a temporary restraining order that expires Thursday, though he did not extend it. Sparks is expected to hear evidence and lawyers' arguments at the hearing.

Democrats went to court earlier this month to prevent the state Republican Party from replacing DeLay on the ballot. A state district judge blocked the process with the temporary order. Attorneys for the Republicans then had the case moved to federal court.

Though Republicans plan to initiate steps to fill the GOP vacancy on the ballot once the temporary order expires, the process wouldn't be complete by the time of the court hearing, said GOP lawyer Jim Bopp.

For example, the Harris County GOP precinct chairs will not meet until the evening of June 26, in order to select two other candidates for offices which have had vacancies occur since the primary. In theory, those of us fromt he Harris County portion of CD22 could select our elector that night -- if there is not a new restraining order in place by that time. But I do not know when the other counties will be able to meet and select electors.

Quite frankly, the Democrats' litigation strategy concerns me, if only because the delay may mean that the State Republican Executive Committee -- rather than the local precinct chairs -- may be the ones who decide the GOP candidate.







|| Greg, 08:52 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Not "Rock, Paper, Scissors"?

I've got no problem with inclusive language translations of Scripture where they are appropriate. I understand the desire for inclusive language liturgies, provided that the sense of the sacred is not lost.

But when the scriptural is simply jettisoned our of a desire to be sensitive and inclusive, folks enter into an area that approaches heresy -- if it does not cross the line.

Take this Presbyterian proposal.

The divine Trinity -- "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" -- could also be known as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action Monday by the church's national assembly.

Delegates to the meeting voted to "receive" a policy paper on gender-inclusive language for the Trinity, a step short of approving it. That means church officials can propose experimental liturgies with alternative phrasings for the Trinity, but congregations won't be required to use them.

"This does not alter the church's theological position, but provides an educational resource to enhance the spiritual life of our membership," legislative committee chair Nancy Olthoff, an Iowa laywoman, said during Monday's debate on the Trinity.

The assembly narrowly defeated a conservative bid to refer the paper back for further study.

A panel that worked on the issue since 2000 said the classical language for the Trinity should still be used, but added that Presbyterians also should seek "fresh ways to speak of the mystery of the triune God" to "expand the church's vocabulary of praise and wonder."

The problem is that one of the proposals -- "Mother, Child, Womb" -- ignores the relational aspect that already exists. Jesus had a mother -- the Virgin Mary -- and it was her womb -- as in "blessed is the fruit of thy womb" -- from which Jesus was born. The new construction gives us a strange "Jesus Has Two Mommies" theology that ought to be avoided at all costs.

A number of those in attendance saw other problems with the recommendations.

Youth delegate Dorothy Hill, a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, was uncomfortable with changing the Trinity wording. She said the paper "suggests viewpoints that seem to be in tension with what our church has always held to be true about our Trinitarian God."

Hill reminded delegates that the Ten Commandments say "the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

The Rev. Deborah Funke of Montana warned that the paper would be "theologically confusing and divisive" at a time when the denomination of 2.3 million members faces other troublesome issues.

So what we see at this time is another denomination struggling with the question of fidelity to the traditional faith of Christianity. Sadly, infidelity may win in the Presbyterian Church, as it did in the Episcopal Church over the weekend (and in the United Church of Christ years ago).

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|| Greg, 06:55 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Drunk Driving Times Two

I hope this guy goes away for a very long time -- and that there are some charges available for the "parent" who let him back behind the wheel.

A Chatham County man was charged with DWI twice in a span of about 20 minutes early Sunday morning, authorities said.

The incident started when a man was stopped in Siler City for speeding and driving left of center.

A Chatham County deputy found evidence that suggested the driver was intoxicated and the man was arrested.

The man's car, a 1991 Honda Civic, was left at the scene. The 18-year-old driver was released into the custody of his mother.

About 20 minutes later, the deputy went back to check on the Honda and to conduct a follow-up investigation.

When he arrived he saw the same man driving away in the car.

The deputy stopped the man and arrested him and impounded his car.

Alejandro Salas Sanchez, 18, of West 2nd Street, Siler City, was charged with two counts of DWI and one count of driving while license revoked, among other charges.

Sanchez was then jailed under a $1,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Chatham County District Court in Siler City on July 11.

SOme folks simply do not need to be permitted in the same county as an automobile -- and this guy is one of them.







|| Greg, 06:34 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Feel A Chill? Go Back To Home

Georgia's tough new laws related to illegal immigration is apparantly stopping some border jumpers from buying houses in the state.

wo months ago, all Alina Arguello had to do to find Latino home buyers was put up a sign and answer her phone.

But ever since Georgia passed one of the most stringent and far-reaching immigration laws in the nation, the number of Latino buyers who call the Re/Max agent's home office in suburban Atlanta has dwindled from about 10 to two a day.

"We're seeing a drastic drop," she said. "There's just a tremendous amount of people who want homes, but are not calling." Many real estate agents and mortgage providers who cater to Spanish-speaking immigrants across Georgia say that the flourishing Latino home buying market has faltered since April, when Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act.

Almost immediately, Latino home buyers pulled out of contracts. Some who had already bought, put their homes on the market. And many prospective buyers stopped searching for homes.

Although Georgia's new legislation does not prohibit illegal immigrants from owning property, many wonder whether they will want to live in Georgia when it begins to come into effect in July 2007.

The law will require companies with state contracts to verify employees' immigration status, penalize employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, curtail many government benefits to illegal immigrants and require that jailers check the immigration status of anyone who is charged with a felony or driving under the influence.

Oh dear -- requirements that workers be here legally, that companies not break the law by hiring illegals, cutting off the financial incentive to settle in the state, and requiring that immigration criminals arrested for serious crimes be identified (and presumably reported to immigration authorities). How could the state of Georgia possibly enact such an unreasonable law!

There is a chill wind blowing here in America among the average ordinary people. We want those who violate our laws and disrespect our sovereignty OUT OF THE USA. So to all border jumpers who don't like the vlimate change, i suggest taking up residence in your homelands.







|| Greg, 12:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Schism Imminent?

The ordination of women and homosexuals -- especially to the episcopacy -- have been of concern to the worldwide Anglican Communion for years. This weekend's selection of a pro-homosexual female bishop to head the Episcopal Church in the United States can only serve to exacerbate the divisions.

The Episcopal Church chose Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as its leader yesterday, making her the first woman to head any denomination in the Anglican Communion worldwide.

The decision by delegates to the Episcopal General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, to choose a female presiding bishop for the 2.3 million-member denomination, 30 years after the church first allowed women to become priests, may exacerbate tensions between Episcopalians and other branches of the Anglican church. Three years ago, Episcopalians angered many conservatives in the United States and abroad by electing an openly gay man from New Hampshire, V. Gene Robinson, as a bishop.

Jefferts Schori, 52, a former oceanographer, backed Robinson's election. The runner-up in the race for presiding bishop, Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley, opposed consecrating Robinson.

Before Robinson's consecration in 2003, no openly gay priest had become a bishop in the Anglican church's history, which extends back more than 450 years. Only the United States, Canada and New Zealand have female bishops, although some other provinces allow women to qualify for the position. The Church of England does not allow female bishops.

With outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold by her side, Jefferts Schori told the delegates yesterday that she was "awed and honored and deeply privileged to be elected." She was chosen on the fifth ballot, getting 95 votes to 93 for six male candidates.

The historic vote shocked many delegates who had gathered at the convention, where they were also debating whether to temporarily halt the appointment of gay bishops to make amends with other Anglican leaders. Gasps escaped from some members when Jefferts Schori's name was announced, according to the Associated Press.

While the American branch of Anglicanism is among the most liberal, the worldwide Anglican community is relatively conservative -- and thatose conservative areas are where it is growing. In the United States, there has already been a series of efforts to place more traditionalist congregations under the control of foreign bishops who are more faithful to the teachings of Scripture and tradition.

This move will continue -- and will likely see the expulsion of the Episcopal Church USA from the Anglican Communion, and with the traditionalist remnant remaining a part of worldwide Anglicanism.







|| Greg, 04:54 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Are We Supposed To Feel Sorry For Them?

These people have broken our nation's laws. Why the sympathetic portrayal by the media when law enforcement tries o do something about it?

SAN DIEGO - Fewer parents are walking their children to school in this border city's Linda Vista neighborhood. The crowd of day laborers huddled in a parking lot outside McDonald's has dropped by half.

A sense of unease has spread in this community of weather-worn homes since immigration agents began walking the streets as part of a stepped-up nationwide effort targeting an estimated 590,000 immigrant fugitives. Other illegal immigrants are being rounded up along the way.

Juana Osorio, an illegal immigrant from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, said her neighbors have largely stayed indoors since agents visited her apartment complex June 2.

"People rarely leave their houses now to go shopping," Osorio, 37, said as she clutched a bottle of laundry detergent in a barren courtyard. "They walk in fear."

Her husband, Juan Rivera, 29, has stopped taking their two children to the park on weekends. "We want to go out but we can't," said Rivera, a construction worker.

In a blitz that began May 26 and ended Tuesday, federal agents arrested nearly 2,200 illegal immigrants, including about 400 in the San Diego area — more than any other city.

Now wait just one minute. These people have an option -- go back to Mexico (or where ever they came from -- but in most cases that is Mexico). Apply to come to this country legally. Quit breaking American law.

And if you cannot bring yourself to do that, be afraid -- very afraid.







|| Greg, 04:39 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Andrea Yates -- Part 2

In April, 2001, my wife and I were house-hunting. We drove through one neighborhood, about 10 minutes from our apatment and about 20 minutes from wehre we eventually bought, looking at the available houses. It seemed like a nice family neighborhood -- especially when we saw the guy about our age in the yard of one of the neighboring houses with his four boys, and the somewhat odd-looking mom holding a little baby.

Two months later we saw them again, on the news. The mother had murdered the children. Her name would become a household word -- Andrea Yates.

Her retrial begins today.

Five years to the day after Andrea Yates systematically drowned her five children in a bathtub, a new panel of potential jurors will be summoned to downtown Houston on Tuesday in preparation for her new trial.

The first half of a 120-person panel will begin answering questionnaires intended to help attorneys gauge who can fairly and impartially decide whether Yates knew right from wrong when she killed her children in their Clear Lake-area home.

The remaining panelists will go through the process Wednesday, with jury selection to begin the following day. The trial, which is expected to last about a month, will begin June 26.

Few, if any, of those involved in the case might have imagined they would have to repeat this laborious task when Yates first went on trial four years ago. But everything changed when the state's sole mental health expert testified mistakenly about a TV program he claimed had been broadcast just before the drownings.

Forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz — a consultant to the Law & Order TV series — told jurors in Yates' first trial about an episode portraying a woman who drowned her children and was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

After Yates' conviction, it was discovered that no such episode existed.

As a result, an appeals court threw out Yates' capital murder conviction last year, citing concerns that Dietz's error may have swayed the jury's judgment. With recent plea negotiations going nowhere, a new trial was inevitable.

"This is a classic case that probably has to be tried," said Gerald Treece, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law. "The government's doing its job and the defense is doing its job. And there's no compromise."

I don't think the Dietz error made a big diffeence -- not with five little kids dead. But justice seems to require that the reset button be pressed and the case be submitted to a jury again. So be it.

May justice be done on behalf of her murdered children.







|| Greg, 04:32 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 18, 2006

Star Trekking!

I'll admit it -- I am a science fiction fanatic. When I'm not reading scholarly historical works, I'm found carrying a science fiction novel of some sort -- my latest discovery being Charles Stross and his Merchant Princes series (which I have devoured over the last two weeks along with a couple of Andre Norton's Earthsea novels).

And yes, I love Star Trek -- but I don't know that my love goes quite this far.

Paul Sieber was wearing a "Star Trek" uniform in the deep Virginia woods when he found himself surrounded by a leathery-looking gang.

Fortunately, the ruffians were dressed up as Klingons, and Mr. Sieber, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, was preparing to film them with a $6,000 digital video camera. At times like this, Mr. Sieber, the writer and director of "Starship Farragut," must come to grips with the obvious — not all Klingons are trained actors — and bellow, "Quiet on the set!"

From these Virginia woods to the Scottish Highlands, "Star Trek" fans are filling the void left by a galaxy that has lost "Star Trek." For the first time in nearly two decades, television spinoffs from the original 1960's "Star Trek" series have ended, so fans are banding together to make their own episodes.

Fan films have been around for years, particularly those related to the "Star Wars" movies. But now they can be downloaded from the Web, and modern computer graphics technology has lent them surprising special effects. And as long as no one is profiting from the work, Paramount, which owns the rights to "Star Trek," has been tolerant. (Its executives declined to comment.)

Fan fiction has been around for a long time. Some authors have encouraged it -- even anthologized the best of it. But the development of computer technology has made it possible to make technically good video fan fiction and the internet has made its distribution quite easy. The NY Times article lists no fewer than five different groups making their own Star Trek episodes -- and tells us that there may be as many as two-dozen around the world, creating Star Trek apocrypha in a multiplicity of languages.

One has to ask, though, what such devotion and activity will mean for the future of Star Trek on television and in theaters, as well as the future of video entertainment as a whole. Do these niche productions signal where "Big Media" should go? Or is it the detritus left behind after the networks have moved on?

Or is it simply a throwback to a more innocent time, as science fiction has grown darker and less escapist over the decades?







|| Greg, 04:38 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Border Jumper Care Costs Harris County Taxpayers $97,300,000 Annually

I used all those zeros intentionally -- and that is only the money spent by the Harris County Hospital District directly out of local funds.

KTRH has learned the Harris County Hospital District is shelling out millions of dollars every year to treat people who are here in this country illegally.

When you subtract what patients paid for hospital district services, and money from federal grants and other sources, $97.3 million dollars is what the local property taxpayer subsidized the district budget for undocumented immigrant care in 2005. That's 14 percent of the entire hospital system's operating budget.

You did read that correctly -- unreimbursed medical costs for these sovereignty-violating foreigners are 14% of the annual budget for the entire hospital system. Put differently, that makes it $1 out of ever $7 spent by the hospital district -- or over $25 for each man, woman and child in the county.

But it gets worse. The state and federal governments reimburse an additional $28,000,000. That takes it up to over $125,000,000 in government subsidized medical care for those who have entered this country illegally or stayed past the expiration of their visas. That raises the cost to over $33 per Harris COunty resident.

The Harris County Hospital District's unreimbursed costs of caring for illegal immigrants approached $100 million last year, a 77 percent increase in three years.

"The costs are increasing because the population of undocumented immigrants is increasing and the cost of health care is rising," said hospital district spokesman Bryan McLeod.

The unreimbursed costs rose from $55 million in 2002 to $97 million in 2005, the hospital district said in a report released Friday. Last year's figure represented 13 percent of the district's $760 million operating budget.

The district treats about 300,000 patients annually, but lacks enough funds and facilities to care for all of the county's uninsured and underinsured residents, estimated to number between 800,000 and 1.2 million, McLeod said.

Commissioner Steve Radack, who requested the report on the district's costs of treating undocumented immigrants, said county residents are shouldering a burden created by the federal government.

The federal government doesn't prevent illegal immigration, but hardly reimburses local counties where the immigrants most frequently settle and use public health care facilities, he said.

"The federal government allows people to come here illegally," Radack said. "Because of that the cost shouldn't fall on the local taxpayer."

The district treated more than 57,000 illegal immigrants last year, at a cost of $128 million. The federal and state governments reimbursed about $28 million, and the patients themselves paid about $3 million. Over the past 11 years, the district has paid about $607 million in unreimbursed costs for treating undocumented immigrants.

The district does not directly ask patients if they are in the country legally, but infers their status from other information gleaned during patient screenings, officials said.

Well, maybe we should just be appreciative that the border-jumping immigration criminals graciously paid a whole $3,000,000 for their own medical care last year. That would be a whopping 2.34% of the total cost of treating illegals at the Harris County Hospital District -- or less than $1 per resident of Harris County.

And that does not include the medical care written off by private hospitals. Anne Linehan over at blogHOUSTON points to the information supplied by one caller to the Chris Baker radio show on KTRH.

Chris Baker was discussing this yesterday and one of his callers identified herself as an employee of a private, fourteen-hospital group here in the Houston area. She said they routinely write off anywhere from 40 to 60 surgeries each week, because the patients are here illegally and are unable to pay. She said the paperwork will often have Social Security numbers such as 111-11-1111, or 999-99-9999, and bogus addresses, but since hospitals are prohibited from turning anyone away, there is nothing they can do about it.

Now consider the implications of that figure. Little or no reimbursement from the state or federal government for thise surgeries (not to mention other treatment that is written off) means that the costs are being spread around to those of us who have insurance (or those who can afford to pay cash -- a small percentage of the public indeed). That means increased costs for all of us every time we walk (or are wheeled through) the door for treatment. That probably means that each and every one of us is paying significantly more for the treatment of those who are here illegally.

And the sad thing is that nothing is being done about this problem. The feds are not interested in stopping illegal immigration. The hospitals don't take immigration information directly, for fear of scaring sick illegals away from medical care -- and even if they discover that a patient is undocumented, they do not report them to immigration authorities.

Medical costs ae escalating every year -- and I cannot help but believe that one factor is the free medical care given to law-breaking border-jumpers at the expense of each and every US citizen.


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That's Why There Was A Wall

Was "the perfect shot" really worth it?

A woman lost her footing after stepping over a retaining wall to take a photograph and went over a cliff, falling 500 feet to her death in a canyon, Yellowstone National Park officials said.

The 52-year-old woman was visiting the park with her husband and two children.

Her husband flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911 after the Saturday morning accident at an overlook along the Yellowstone River, park officials said.

A ranger rappelled down the canyon wall to reach the woman, but she was dead at the scene.

Condolences to the family of the deceased and all that -- but was there no consideration given to the idea that the wall was there for a reason?







|| Greg, 04:25 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||
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Dan said:

That's hilarious that he's criticizing the way Britain is handling the problem. Umm, Tony, where Read more in Tony Blair Speaks Out
Light said:

I must say you are well informed.
Theo van Gogh got killed by a man who didnt like Theo's Read more in Voice Of The Fifth Column
Rhymes With Right said:

And Light -- if you are going to make the argument that I should keep my ind open about 9/11 bein Read more in Voice Of The Fifth Column
Rhymes With Right said:

Since you don't speak English very well, I'll excuse you for not realizing that in our language " Read more in Voice Of The Fifth Column
Light said:

Dear Greg,

This is the first time i visit this site/blog or whatever it is.

I fou Read more in Voice Of The Fifth Column



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