Archive for August 2008

McCain’s VP Gov. Sarah Palin

I’m thrilled over McCain’s choice for his second-in-command. Gov. Palin has an impressive record that’s brief  but shows sound judgment as an executive – unlike the Obamassiah who lacks any sort of executive experience unless one considers ordering arugula over iceberg an executive decision (/snark).

This bit of her bio really hit me hard:
Source: Newsbusters 5/20/2008

Over a month ago, her office announced that the 44-year-old and her husband, Todd, were expecting their fifth child in May. It was a secret the beguiling brunette, a runner, managed to keep from even her staff.

Then, April 18, she surprised us again by giving birth a month early to Trig Palin, 6 pounds, 2 ounces. In true Sarah fashion, her amniotic fluid leaked in Texas, she gave a speech at a Republican Governors Association convention as scheduled anyway, and then returned to Alaska to deliver.

Immediately the family made this announcement: “Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives.”

Trig Palin has Down syndrome. Early prenatal testing alerted the Palins to this chromosomal abnormality, as it is alerting more and more families in the early stages of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, because of early screening, more children with Down syndrome are aborted and fewer and fewer are being born.

Children with Down syndrome do bring “unspeakable joy” into this world. I know the laughter and blessings my 5-year-old nephew, Ethan, with Down syndrome, has brought to our family. But how do you explain this joy to a perfection-at-any-price world?

Politicians rarely help. How many politicians are ever called upon to really walk the walk in their lives?

....Palin, a politician who has been eloquent in her defense of life before birth, has now proven with her own life how much she truly “walks the walk.”

Thank you, Sarah, for a beautiful witness given to us through a little one whose Norse name, Trig, means “brave victory.”


When I was 8 years old one of my sister’s had a daughter with Down Syndrome. My niece Teri was special, and for every moment of her five years on this earth she taught me that Love can transcend disability, and that anyone who considered people with Down’s as less-than-human or somehow “broken” really doesn’t realize that sometimes perfection can be found in imperfect vessels. Her death from a congenital heart defect that is all-too common in Down’s kids, three years after my father’s passing actually hurt me harder than the loss of my dad. Nearly 30 years on I miss her in ways that remain indescribable; all I can say is that in my heart she is free, loving and full of joy.

My sister, whom I’m no longer close with, went on to have another Down’s kid, a boy who went on to survive the very surgery that his elder sister died from. While he is as different from Teri as he is from anyone else, he too has proved to be a blessing to his family.

Just over 12 years ago the Wife and I had amniocentesis done on our pregnancy, mainly because she was a bit on the old side baby-wise. Before we had it done we decided that if Down’s showed up, we would still care for the child. Our boy was born five months later healthy; unfortunately for Gov. Palin, her child was not.

But she had the baby and cares for him anyway.

I doubt the Obama-eyed media will truly appreciate the fortitude and courage Gov. Palin displayed with her decision to give birth to her son Trig, but those of us who aren’t as enthusiastic of the One see Gov. Palin’s experience as proof as to why she’s the better candidate for the office than either Obama or Biden. Sen. McCain shows with his choice of Gov. Palin that he’s not afraid to push the envelope with his pic; Romney or Huckabee would have been easy, “safe” picks but instead he made an excellent executive decision, proving yet again why he deserves to become the next president.

Palin showed character with her decision, as did McCain with his. When it comes to character, neither Obama nor Biden are in the same league as McCain and Palin.

I am proud to be an American today. I am proud of my membership in the Republican party.

Now let’s go and win!

Obama Humor

Is sorely lacking. Therefore it’s amazing when the breath of fresh air comes from the wheezing of the Grey Lady, the New York Times:

As a child, I was abandoned by my parents and lived with a colony of ants. We didn’t have much in the way of material possession, but we did have each other and the ability to carry far more than our own body weights. When I was young, I was temporarily paralyzed in a horrible anteater accident, but I never gave up my dream: the dream of speaking at a national political convention so my speech could be talked over by Wolf Blitzer and a gang of pundits.

And today we Democrats meet in Denver, a suburb of Boulder, a city whose motto is, “A Taxi? You Must be Dreaming.”


Ministry of Propaganda, Top 10 Obama Jokes

Firing the HK P2000sk

This review is three weeks old. I don’t have much to say about the gun so I’ll just post it as is.

I’m starting to learn a basic fact about guns: the smaller the gun the bigger the kick. Tonight we fired the Hechler & Koch P2000sk.

The P2000sk is a small 9mm but feels like a tempest in your hand. Overall I wasn’t thrilled with this gun. I prefer accuracy at a distance, and this thing just bounces around in your hand alot while firing it. My feeling is that if you want stopping power at close range, why would you be firing a 9mm?

So far my experience with the HK line isn’t as good as mine with the Beretta line. Maybe I’m just a big wussie and HKs are just too manly for me – or maybe HKs have their uses and I haven’t found what they are just yet in my brief 8 months of target shooting experience. Or maybe they are simply overrated. I don’t know, but if I needed a pocket gun for protection, I sure as heck wouldn’t want a P2000sk in 9mm. .40 maybe and .45 – definitely – but not 9mm.

Mythbusters Take On Moon Landing Conspiracies

I’m a sucker for Jamie and Adam; I’ve watched their show Mythbusters since Day 1 and admired the way they had fun while doing science. Science is fun – as any scientist will tell you – so why do we have the impression that it’s not? I’ll tell you why: Science is not meant to be taught – it’s meant to be done. One learns Science the same way that one learns any craft – by doing it. Just my $.02.

Anyway, last night’s episode was one of their best yet. One by one they dismantled – perhaps gutted would be a better term – some of the most common conspiracy theories that question whether Man really did walk on the moon three and a half decades ago.

Here’s Popular Mechanics’ take on the show:

For Hyneman and Savage, taking on the moon landing conspiracy was a no-brainer. “They’ve been on our radar for a long time, because it’s something everybody knows about, and it’s not something you can go there yourself to check it out—at least not very easily,” Hyneman told PM last week. “When we started to look into all the suspicions that were there, there was a lot of meat for us to dig into. Especially since it’s sort of centered on special effects—that’s our daily work, so we got into it.” Though other people have tackled the moon conspiracy, “We felt that we couldn’t put it to bed until we put our own stamp on it,” Savage says.

And put their stamp on it they did. The show will not convince all 20% of the US population that believes the landings were faked, but it should reinforce the facts of the landings, as well as the power of Science to disprove ignorance and irrationality systematically and thoroughly.

Russia: A New Cold War?

UPDATE: A Watcher’s Council winner for 8/29/08! Thank you, council members, for the honor. – SK

I am a strong supporter of Russia. It’s hard not to be if you study its history, read its literature and treasure its poetry. Russia is not the Soviet Union. The Soviet era was just one of many calamities that befell Russia during it’s 1000 year history, and no one suffered worse under the Soviet regime than the Russian people themselves. Russians have been cursed with bad government throughout its long and storied history. Has the Russian people ever had a government that served their interests and made their lives just a bit better? I can’t think of one.

I am an American first and foremost, but I don’t see power and prestige as zero-sum games where one nation’s rise originates from another’s decline. Both America and Russia can coexist as great nations in the same way that Japan, Germany and China can. I don’t believe that hegemony or American domination of the world is in America’s best interest. It forces us into the role of “global policeman” and that leads to lazy Europeans who have forgotten how to defend themselves, and Americans dying for causes that are not their own.

Russia is a unique, somewhat enigmatic nation that has often been misunderstood by the West, so I’m always a little wary when it’s in the news. And it’s in the news a lot these days over its invasion of Georgia.

Which raises the question: Is Russia’s invasion a one-time event or is this a return to the Cold War? Rhetoric on both sides is extremely heated right now and it’s hard to discern, but before we succomb to the rhetoric and dust off our John Le Carre novels it’s worth taking a cold, hard dispassionate look at recent events.

According to Michael Totten, the MSM is wrong about Georgia starting the war with Russia. Evidently Georgian villages were being shelled by Ossetian separatists while at the same time the Russian APCs were rolling towards Georgia. It’s clear that things have been messy in the region, and made messier still by Russian meddling.

But how much of the crisis is Russian meddling and how much of it is the desire of Abkhasians and Ossetians for independence? Totten’s piece suggests that the desire is much stronger in Abkhasia than it is in Ossetia, so I suppose it isn’t much of a stretch to suggest that Russia’s hand in the mess is stronger in Ossetia than in Abkhasia.

The problem for the US and the EU is the precedent we set in the Balkans. If Ossetia and Abkhazia wish to leave become independent from Georgia, then why can’t they do what the Kosovars did in Serbia with NATO help? In February I wrote about my opposition to the US and EU rush to recognize an independent Kosovo. At the time I didn’t like the decision because I felt that there was nothing to be gained by it, yet much that would be lost – including  the alienation of Serbia, a nation with a nascent democracy that is struggling to come to terms with its own past.

I also find the fragmentation of states philosophically repugnant, seeing secession as legitimizing the atomization of the electorate. So Kosova quits Serbia. What about the serbs regions of Kosovo? Can they quit Kosovo? And the Albanian enclaves within that predominantly Serbian statelet? Can they quit too? Or the streets within those neighborhoods having Serbian majority… On and on it continues until you have balkanization down to individual farms and apartments.

Is this what we demand when we call for Democracy?

Because we supported Kosovo’s break from Serbia, we now lack the moral ground to demand that Ossetia and Abkhazia remain part of Georgia. After all, what exactly is the difference between Kosovo and Georgia’s breakaway regions? The people living in these areas are mixed but not as they were prior to the early 1990s when the idea of secession took hold.

Georgia deserves EU and US support but both governments screwed up. More pressure should have been placed on Russia to knock off the meddling in Ossetia and Abkhazia so that the true intent of the population could have been deciphered. Do these people really want independence or not? And if they do why? Perhaps a federal system would have sufficed as it has in other multi-ethnic states.

However the US and EU followed a schizoid policy whereby they turned a blind-eye to Russian meddling on one hand (Russian peacekeepers in Ossetia? What next? Iranian peacekeepers in Basra?) while at the same time dangling the NATO and EU membership carrots to Georgia. The former action encouraged Russian nationalists, while the latter whipped them up into a frenzy. Could the US and EU have somehow handled matter any worse? I can’t think of how.

Now the Rhetoric is hot and heavy so it’s difficult to determine whether this episode is a one-off or the shape of things to come in a new Cold War. Russia’s true intent will be determined by its future actions. Will it withdraw from Georgia proper to the Ossetia and Abkhazia or does it intend on overthrowing Georgia and rebuilding the Soviet empire?

If it sticks to supporting the breakaway regions then the invasion can be seen as Russia’s attempt at protecting the Russians in these regions  – whether this is in fact true or not. In this event the intervention would not likely be repeated – except in other states where Russians dominate and the West and the former Soviet states like Ukraine would dodge a bullet. There’s also a chance that invoking the rights of separatists to justify the invasion could bite Russia in the butt. Russia is a huge state brimming with hundreds of ethnic groups; it’s only a matter of time before another Chechnya flares.

However if it does attempt to overrun – or overthrow Georgia – then it does signal a return to the Soviet era of Cold War. And while we may not want a war with Russia – cold or otherwise – we may have no choice but to reciprocate. I personally do not wish for another Cold War with Russia; I believe it would be a catastrophe for both Russians and Americans. However if the Russian government decides to war with us, we must protect ourselves and act accordingly.

The Council Has Spoken: 8/22/2008

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council:
Bookworm Room: McCainiacs thinking outside of the box

Non-Council:
Daniel Pipes: The West’s Islamist Infiltrators

Full voting here.

American Generosity

Selfish Americans… Obama thinks so, and maybe he is, but are the rest of us? 

Every month I donate cash to US Campaign For Burma through a subscription that dings the checking account. I also support the local Goodwill and the American Cancer Federation chapters through monthly donations of goods. I regularly send money to the Delaware Humane Association, Tristate Bird Rescue and several different Friends of Police (FOP) organizations. In the recent past I have also sent money to Catholic Charities, the American Red Cross, and other organizations that the Wife no doubt could name but I can’t because she controls the purse-strings.

I’m also a firm believer in supporting internet journalism, which is why I’ve contributed to several deserving writers and artists like Chris Muir, Michael Totten and Bill Roggio. I don’t exactly consider these guys charity-cases, it’s just that I find value in what they do and understand that “attaboys” don’t buy airline tickets to Baghdad.

According to the DC Examiner ...

We give twice as much as the British per capita, and according to The American magazine, seven times as much as the Germans and 14 times as much as the Italians.

Even in inflation-adjusted dollars, the amount given each year just keeps getting larger, and meanwhile, we do far more volunteer work than in other industrialized countries.


Volunteerism and benevolence are key components of the American spirit. Lose them and we’ve lost an important part of our heritage.

Obamassiah & Joe Biden

The Obama needs gravitas, and liberals supporting him think that Sen. Joe Biden has it.

I fully expect Biden to be announced as the Obama’s Veep.

UPDATE: 8/23/2008
Looks like I was right. Tell the Wife.

Vindication

It has been a long tough slog supporting the Iraq War, although nowhere near as hard and tough as it has been for our forces fighting it and the Iraqi people living through it. Championing an unpopular position – especially one involving warfare and the building of a nation – is never easy. In the case of Iraq it was the choice between a freed people and American determination, or genocide and American weakness that encourages its enemies whether the Japanese view of the US as “paper tiger” or alQaeda’s perception of the US as “the weak horse.”

For the past five years Iraq War supporters have dealt with tactical and strategic errors in Iraq. This should be no surprise given that war tends to shred even the best laid plans, the slow progress three-steps-forward two-steps-back that comes with a counterinsurgency strategy, a political party hell-bent on returning to power on the coffins of dead American soldiers and the blood of Iraqis shed by al-Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, and an antagonistic mainstream media establishment. Epithets like “Haditha“, “Abu Ghraib“, and “Guantanamo” were hurled along with the standard “quagmire,” ”blood for oil,” and ”Vietnam.” Some of these epithets were deserved; in the end most were not.

Those of us who supported the Surge trusted in General Petraeus at the same time the nation’s most respected newspaper ran an ad calling him “Betray Us” at an embarrassingly discounted rate.

With a mainstream media firmly entrenched in the anti-war camp, war supporters were forced to find alternatives like the views of soldiers returning from the field, or in many cases actually still there, as well as the writings of Bill Roggio, Michael Totten, Michael Yon and others who reported what they witnessed amongst the Iraqi people and embedded with US soldiers. These reports were in stark contrast to the mainstream reports written from the Green Zone using material from pro-insurgent stringers, and early on sowed the seeds of hope for those of us who wanted nothing less than victory by our forces and a free Iraq that would eventually join the ranks of normal democratic nations.

In the end the contrast between the two became laughable – as Dave Price regularly pointed out the MSM’s often breathless reports of Moqtada al-Sadr’s (aka “Mookie”) “victory” over Iraqi forces in Basra and Baghdad this past spring. It was only a matter of time before the mainstream media came gave up and began writing positive stories about Surge’s success in Iraq – although with more caveats than are found in any drug commercial. A few sundays ago the local Delaware newspaper – which is horribly biased against anything that 1)doesn’t support the Democratic Party or 2)questions the banking industry – ran an AP wirestory on its front page, “US Now Winning War That Seemed Lost”. It was the first positive story on the Iraq War I had ever seen on the paper’s frontpage.

Delaware News Journal - 072708

I waited five years to see column header, five very long years in which I felt the American press had become the propaganda arm of al-Qaeda in Iraq or Mookie’s Jaish al Mahdi (JAM).

The history of the Iraq Surge makes for interesting reading. I never saw the War as lost, nor did I want to see us and the Iraqis lose – unlike Sen Harry Reid. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both voted sometimes forsometimes against funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq depending which way the wind blew. Iraq War opponent Congressman John Murtha disgraced himself with his slander that his fellow marines slaughtered civilians “in cold blood” in a case that eventually led to a defamation case being filed against him (make that two defamation suits) .

Even the political party I freely chose hasn’t been immune. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-France) voted against the surge, and now demands that we quit talking about its success or who voted for it. I suppose he would want us to forget considering his consistent anti-military position and his current push for a place in an Obama administration. Even my own Congressman Mike Castle – Delaware’s lone Republican voice in a state dominated by Democrats  - voted against a bill funding the war in early 2007.

One writer – I’m trying to figure out whom – early on in the surge wrote a piece about General Petraeus that has inspired me through the dark days. It described the chaos that was Iraq, and the hope for a better future that seemed more distant day by day as the nation descended into the heart of darkness. It portrayed General Petraeus in almost mythical tones, and promised that though the times were desperate he would lead his forces and the Iraqi people out of the darkness and into the light of victory and peace. The writing conveyed to me, a civilian of untested loyalty, what it must have been like for my father to serve under Gen. MacArthur in 1944-45. General Petraeus was that kind of leader, one whom good men willingly follow to their last breath.

Michael Yon in his four part series, The Ghosts of Anbar (one of the best pieces of wartime writing I’ve read), complemented the General thus:

It took enormous guts to take the job at this stage of the war, when it’s like an airplane with one of the wings blown off, and there is this pilot in the back of the airplane who easily could have parachuted out the back—where some of the others already have gone—but instead he says, “I can still fly this thing!” Had David Petraeus jumped and landed safely, he’d still have been one of the few who could land with a sterling reputation after his previous commands here. If this jet crashes while Petraeus is flying it, we will always know that the best of the best did not jump out the back; he ran to the cockpit.

The Real Man of the Year - Gen. David Patraeus

Now we have finally made it into the light, and Freedom’s enemies now scurry back to their caves in Pakistan or rewrite history like the denizens of the Kremlin of old in order to portray themselves as fathers to success.

But I can’t forget. And I can’t forgive. Too much has been done; too much said to warrant forgiveness or forgetfulness. A rubicon was crossed – I’m not sure exactly when or where, but crossed nevertheless, and we find ourselves in a new land where judgments must be made, debts repaid and accounts settled. While leftists ponder war crimes tribunals held under an Obama administration, it’s only fair for those of us who stayed the course to not forget what has been said and done by those determined to see America humiliated and genocide prevail in Iraq.

We are at long last vindicated, but we must not forget. Forgive? Perhaps. But not forget.

Would We Have Done It?

If we knew in 2003 what we know now in 2008 about the invasion of Iraq, would we have done it?

Jeff Jacoby writing in the Boston Globe thinks so:

So what does hindsight counsel today? That Iraq is a pointless quagmire – or that it is a costly but winnable war, in which patience, tenacity, and smarts have a good chance of succeeding?

Hindsight isn’t always 20-20, particularly in wartime, when early expectations of an easy rout can give way to an unexpectedly long and bloody grind – and when victory has so often been achieved only after persevering through strategic debacles, intelligence failures, and wrenching battlefield losses.

There are no guarantees in Iraq. As with every war, we will know for sure how it ends only after it ends. But an effort that so many critics sourly have called the worst foreign-policy blunder in American history – the drive to emancipate Iraq from a monstrous and dangerous dictatorship and transform it into a reasonably civilized, law-abiding democracy – looks increasingly like a mission nearly accomplished. Had we known six years ago what we know today, would we have done it? Differently, no doubt. But we would have done it.

British Animosity Towards US Based on Lies

No surprise considering it’s the Land of the BBC:

A poll of nearly 2,000 Britons by YouGov/PHI found that 70 per cent of respondents incorrectly said it was true that the US had done a worse job than the European Union in reducing carbon emissions since 2000. More than 50 per cent presumed that polygamy was legal in the US, when it is illegal in all 50 states.

...

The survey showed that a majority agreed with the false statement that since the Second World War the US had more often sided with non-Muslims when they had come into conflict with Muslims. In fact in 11 out of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, or Arabs and non-Arabs, the US has sided with the former group. Those conflicts included Turkey and Greece, Bosnia and Yugoslavia, and and Kosovo and Yugoslavia.

Asked if it was true that “from 1973 to 1990 the United States sold Saddam Hussein more than a quarter of his weapons,” 80 per cent of British respondents said yes. However the US sold just 0.46 per cent of Saddam’s arsenal to him, compared to Russia’s 57 per cent, France’s 13 per cent and China’s 12 per cent.

Nothing like taking the “special relationship” for granted. Hope they can develop a similar “special relationship” with Russia to prevent them from freezing to death should Russia decide to cut off natural gas exports.

Wind Farm Splits Town, Families

I think stories like this are going to become increasingly common.

He knows the futuristic towers are pumping clean electricity into the grid, knows they have been largely embraced by his community.

But Yancey hates them.

He hates the sight and he hates the sound. He says they disrupt his sleep, invade his house, his consciousness. He can’t stand the gigantic flickering shadows the blades cast at certain points in the day.

But what this brawny 48-year-old farmer’s son hates most about the windmills is that his father, who owns much of the property, signed a deal with the wind company to allow seven turbines on Yancey land.

“I was sold out by my own father,” he sputters.


Since we’re thinking about moving to a rural area, we’ll have to keep projects like this in mind. I’d rather live near a nuclear power plant than acres of these things.

The Council Has Spoken: August 15, 2008

LOLbigfoot

Consistent Politics

Politics often presents interesting contradictions. For example on one hand you have people who in one breath criticize the American government over its foreign and economic policy, yet in the very next trust the same government when it comes to legislation they agree with. Someone who might believe that “Bush Lied People Died” will in the same breath trust their candidate for president on legislation that he backs. This came up in this thread at DelawarePolitics.net concerning the possibility of speed cameras on Delaware’s highways.

One could ask why then I trusted the US government to invade Iraq yet don’t trust it when it comes to operating speed cameras. Isn’t that hypocritical? I believe that it’s important to make one’s ethics consistent – but ethics and politics really don’t lend themselves to consistency in the real world.

For example I claim to be both pro-life and pro-choice when it comes to abortion. I believe that abortion is murder but I believe that all murders are not equal. Consequently a doctor performing one is not as evil as someone killing a child. Ditto a husband murdering his terminally ill wife to end her suffering when compared to a woman who shotguns her husband in his sleep. All of these are examples of murder but they are not equal.

Laws are blunt instruments. They don’t recognize the differences between an abortion done by a woman who made a mistake one night and another who simply thinks it’s cheaper and easier to have the occasional abortion than take the Pill. N0t in the eyes of the law though. Similarly there is a difference between the speeding a commuter does on her way to work to get a parking spot close to her office and the speeding a middle-age guy with a BMW Z4 does. In the latter case a cop who pulls both over can decide for herself which case merits the warning and which the ticket.

A traffic camera cannot. It tickets both offenders equally and does nothing to reduce the bluntness of the law on the accused. Worse, there is proof from the Federal Highway Administration and a recent study by the University of South Florida College of Public Health that red light cameras don’t make intersections safer – contradicting similar studies done by Insurance Institute of Highway Safety and other other pro-camera organizations.