Archive for November 2009

Imam Happy to Have Inspired Shooter

Wants other Muslims to join the fun.

Someday a predator drone will be launched into a stiff Arabian Sea breeze. It will soar ever higher under the command of a pilot remotely controlling the drone from a base in Nevada. The pilot will have arrived at his remote station with a cup of coffee served to him by an Indian immigrant who came to this nation with a few rupees in his pocket and now worries about whether the bank will approve his loan so that he can expand beyond his four shops.

The pilot will receive an order and drop a hellfire missile on a painted target in the Yemeni desert, sending the “holy man’s” penis through his skull at supersonic speeds, between sips of his gradually cooling coffee.

And I can’t wait for that day.

AMA Needs to Get Back To Their Mission Statement

I used to write checks to the AMA on behalf of my wife. I used to tell her that having lobbied politicians in the past it was important to put your money where your mouth was by supporting an organization that advocates on your behalf.

But no longer.

The Wife left the AMA when it went over to the Dark Side and supported Obamacare. Now it’s urging the repeal of “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell.”

Here’s the deal: I support the repeal myself. In fact barring gays from the military makes no sense considering the role they have played in military history. “This is Sparta!” Yes, and there was also sodomy! The British Navy? “The only traditions in the navy, ” Churchill remarked, “Are rum, sodomy, and the lash.” The great samurai warriors that flew the Chrysanthemum flag of the Emperor hundreds of years ago would be flying the rainbow flag today.

But the AMA’s mission should be to represent doctors and through them their patients. Doctors pay $420 a year for this representation.

Right now doctors are worrying over pending Medicare/Medicaid cuts that are due to take effect on January 1, 2010. Reimbursements will go down across the board by 20%, and for some procedures like stress tests, as much as 45%. Physicians are already refusing new Medicare patients.

But instead of pushing Congress to rescind the cuts, the AMA is lobbying for other causes that have little to do with medicine.

The organization has become a disgrace and lost it’s bearings. $420 a year is a lot even to a doctor, and could be better used by other organizations that can take up the fight that the AMA has run away from.

This Is Why You Shouldn’t Use Strungout Naked People To Get Your Point Across

Dominique Swain posed for PETA a few years back, but that hasn’t stopped the starlet from dumping a litter of unvaccinated puppies at an animal shelter in Malibu without even leaving a donation. A PETA spokesman responded “”We’ve not worked with Dominique in years and there’s no excuse for her allowing her dog to breed in a city that is overflowing with homeless animals literally dying for good homes,” said the rep.”

Once again I agree with PETA. Too bad they haven’t woken up and realized that your doing your cause no good by hiring hypocrites to get their message across.

A Republican Defense of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

I purchased this title in PC and PS3 versions – laying down $130 at Wally World for the sequel to the landmark FPS Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. While the Kid has played 3 hours on the PC, I’ve done about 2 1/2 on the Ps3.

My first impression? Intense.

There’s a warning at the beginning of the campaign that asks if you want to skip some levels that may be offensive to some players. After playing one of those levels, I can see why that warning is there. I’m one of those gamers that take a strangely moral attitude in my gaming. Even in D&D I played Neutral-Good characters because there is Evil in the world that needs eradicating so why not have fun eradicating it? Playing this one level early in the campaign was a bit stomach churning, but after it’s over it just adds to the game’s intensity – even though at this point I disagree that the story in the level makes sense . It sets up the first plot point of the story but I kept asking myself , “Why don’t I just shoot him? Sure the game would be over but shooting him now makes the most sense.” It’s a weak part in the story, one that I didn’t find in the first Modern Warfare – but perfection can’t happen twice.

I am a PC gamer, so I had some trouble getting used to the PS3 controls on this FPS. But seeing the game in full 1080p (it supports this resolution) on my 58” plasma made for a movie like experience.

But all I can say is that there are worse ways of wasting $65 including tax on this game (or $130 in my case). If you liked Modern Warfare, you won’t be disappointed with Modern Warfare 2.

Fox & Friends reported this morning that the game allowed the player to be a terrorist and shoot Americans. They then went showed a snippit of a critic of video games who trotted out the same old tired arguments that video games encourage violence. The Chirpy Morning Blonde Gretchen Carlsen then peeped that she would never allow her kid to play such a game.

Well I have. I allowed my 13 year old to play it and he finished it this morning because he’s home from school. Guess what? He hasn’t sent emails to radical Muslim imam Anwar al-Awlaki – or if he has the FBI has decided not to investigate because to do so would show cultural insensitivity.

First lets correct a few things.
The incident Fox & Friends takes issue with is a level where an American soldier goes undercover to infiltrate a Russian terrorist’s gang. As part of that operation he participates in the shooting up of a Moscow airport named after the fascist leader that overthrew the Russian democratic government and sold nukes to a Middle Eastern regime  in the first Modern Warfare.

The level is gruesome. As mentioned above I have never played such a role before in video games. In it you watch the leader, his henchmen and yourself walk through the airport gunning down civilians and police alike. In this respect it is modeled after the terrorist attack in Mumbai on Nov. 25, 2008. All Call of Duty video games are what we term “on rails.” You have limited freedom in what you can and cannot do as the plot moves forward. While the massacre is going on, if you shoot the Russian terrorist or his henchmen you cannot kill them, but they will turn on you and kill you. You must then either shoot the innocent civilians yourself or shoot above their heads. At the end of the level you are shot and killed by the Russian terrorist as you leave the airport. He says something to the effect that finding an American at the massacre will ignite a war between Russia and the USA - and it does. The incident sets in motion everything that follows afterward including the invasion and occupation of the eastern United States by Russian forces. Because the Russians blame America for the terrorist attack, the world turns a blind eye to its destruction and it’s up to the heroes to fight the Russians, find the Russian terrorist, and prove that he has engineered World War 3.

I found the level tough to stomach. So did my son, and a friend I’ve communicated with who like me picked up the game the day it was released. “Do terrorists really act so calmly when they attack?” My son asked me this morning. Remembering the videos of the attack in Mumbai, I answered that yes, they often do.

Nevertheless I do take issue with the plotpoint. Story-wise it’s necessary to setup the invasion of the US - but I kept shooting Makarov in the back of the head and couldn’t kill him because the story wouldn’t let me.

Think about it: if you can get so close to the bad guy to plant a spy, why not just off him? I always hate when writers create an elaborate scene when a simpler one would work better. “Hi Alexi.” Blam! I think a more creative writing team would have been able to craft a plotpoint that didn’t involve participating in a massacre.

That said as I play through the game I come to see how well placed the level really is. Von Clausewitz famously wrote that “war is politics by other means.” Terrorism is warfare by other means should be the corollary to that statement, and by including the attack in the video game the developers show that terrorism is indeed a part of modern warfare. This puts the game at odds with those on the Left who try to elevate terrorism to a morally defensible position, or at best try to whitewash it as a matter of law enforcement. Playing through the level it’s clear that it’s neither: it’s brutal, ugly, and an act of war. This is what terrorists from Bin Laden to al-Zawahiri have been saying for decades: they are at war with us, and there will never be any accommodation between us until one side is victorious over the other. I’ll never quite understand why the Left refuses to listen to the terrorists; perhaps they are the ones who are racist and “culturall insensitive” because they refuse to take an Arab at his word.

The Call of Duty series has consistently supported values such as honor, valor and the sanctity of life. In Modern Warfare 2 there is a level where the player must kill Russian soldiers using oil rig workers as human shields. As the level loads the commander who ordered the operation is asked why we don’t just bomb the platform. He says something to the effect that “We don’t kill innocents. We use precision to take out the bad guys.” Sure enough as you raid the platform if you shoot a hostage you are forced to restart from the last checkpoint. This relates to a level in the first Modern Warfare where your team must stop the massacre of Russian villagers by the ultra-nationalists. It’s just one of several levels in the series where you must stop the bad guys from slaughtering civilians, keeping the morality of the game on a higher plain than video games like “Grand Theft Auto” (a game I refuse to play on principle yet do not ban from my home.)

At the end of the game you will shoot and kill American soldiers. These soldiers are under the command of a rogue American general hell bent on continuing the conflict with the Russians. What’s not clear (and I blame the writers here again) is the motive for the general’s actions. Unfortunately the game ends with a cliffhanger leaving the whole game dangling. Gamers will have to wait another 2 years for the conclusion of the story – just like a movie.

So was I troubled killing American soldiers protecting the general? Given how hard they were to kill, not particularly. I suppose some would, but by this time in the game it was obvious to me that it was necessary to save the world from tyranny. My commanding officer and I were the only ones in the world who knew the whole truth about the conflict raging around the world, and the rogue general wanted that truth buried.

Having the entire world against you tends to make the game more suspenseful, but does so rather cheaply. The story struck me as too convoluted to make sense, as if it had been written to paste scenes together that had been dreamed up at design meetings at the maker Infinity Ward’s studios. The importance of a well crafted story is a relatively new one in video game design, but as the games become more complex and movie-like, the importance grows. Unfortunately I think that the story is the greatest failing of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Besides. It was just a game – and a damn good one.

Finally, I think that Penn & Teller put the nails in the coffin of video game violence. See this video.

Note that my son did the same thing the first time he shot a semi-automatic at the gun range.

I grew up with video games starting with Pong, through the Atari 2600, Intellivision, Nintendo and still play them on the PC, and Playstation 3 today. Video games have been the bane of Lefties and some Right Wingers over that time. It’s been almost 40 years since Pong came out, yet American civilization has not fallen nor has society been overrun by Nintendo-addicts as was once feared. More importantly there has been no proof offered to justify the banning of video games.

I have a message for those on the Right: There are real things to freak out about. I’m pretty pissed about Obamacare and the apparent political correctness infecting our military and law enforcement in their handling of real terrorists like Nidal Malik Hasan. There is no need to get all bent out of shape over a video game, especially one as finely crafted as the Call of Duty series.

Parting Shots Part 2: Buh-Bye John Mohammed

As John Mohammed eats his final meal it’s worth remembering the heroic effort by former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose that led to his capture.

I wrote at the time of their capture seven years ago that it was only a matter of time before the DC sniper was caught – but that should not take away from former Police Chief Moose’s achievement.

Suburban Perspective on Rural America

We’ve been living in rural North Carolina now for just over 2 months, and as one might expect things are a bit different here that need some adjusting to. Some things like a big sky unhindered by buildings and skirted by mountains are easy; other things like drivers who refuse to go 1 mph over the posted speed limit on rural roads are going to take some time to get used to. And still more things no longer seem odd – like the sound of gunfire and the sight of men carrying guns with deer season starting next weekend.

We came here expecting to see poverty, and we haven’t been disappointed. The rural cities and towns we’ve seen so far are drying up. This particular part of the state was once famous for furniture manufacturing; today the factories are crumbling as furniture making has gone overseas. As those jobs left, so did the businesses that supported their workers, providing them with everything from homes, to cars, to services like plumbing and HVAC.

This area has always had a backbone of agriculture. We live at the dividing line between tobacco and cotton. Unfortunately the former is a dying business although an elderly friend has hopes that the medicinal properties of tobacco will help save the business, while the latter must compete with Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern crops that are often heavily subsidized by their governments.
Some corn, soybean, and chicken farms still operate in the area, but given the state of the tractors, homes and cars owned by these farmers, I don’t begrudge their agricultural subsidies they receive from the government as much as I have in the past.

The area receives a number of elderly people returning from the cities to live out their days where they were raised. The few young people that are born here disappear as soon as possible to the Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham or beyond. Will they come back they way their grandparents have? Perhaps, but does it even matter to the overall health of this slice of rural America?

The younger generations flee in search of jobs, and the retirees return as consumers of health care and pensions. Therefore you have a loss of people just as they enter the productive period of their lives. Wouldn’t the area benefit by keeping these people?

The problem comes back to jobs. Beyond Wal-mart and the dollar stores there aren’t many here. As it has become more efficient, even farming does not employ as many people as it once did, and the majority of those jobs are taken by the vast and growing community of immigrants from Mexico.

I’ve been looking around the area thinking hard about ways to bring jobs to the area and employ people. There are whole swathes of towns with abandoned factories and empty strip malls, but what can you make or sell that cannot be made or sold more cheaply by China and Wal-mart? Congress and the Obama Administration has made a lot of noise about rural broadband. Broadband was supposed to transform the American workplace a decade ago – and it did; it wiped out America’s lead in high tech because IT jobs could be done in China and India for a fraction of the cost in America.

Rural America offers natural beauty that urban dwellers can only read about or see on TV. My son had never really seen or understood how the Milky Way got its name before we moved here, and you don’t really know what fresh air feels like until you smell it in the mountains. But how do we bottle and export that?

We have so much land that I no longer wake up to the sound of my neighbor’s kids crying, or grit my teeth over the neighbor’s dog barking throughout the night. How do I sell that?

Perhaps rural America would die if it became prosperous. I hear that the mountains around Asheville are being stripped of timber and flattened to make room for McMansions as that city becomes trendy. Would prosperity doom the solitude and beauty I find in this part of Appalachia?

AMA in Revolt Over Obamacare

This isn’t surprising since all the doctors I’ve met are so mad they are withholding their dues. The Wife has not renewed this year over the issue, ending 7 years of membership. What I find particularly nasty is the gutting of Medicaid payments to doctors to help pay for it. Doctors are already refusing to take Medicare/Medicaid patients (it’s illegal for them to stop treating them without finding them another doctor) due to the pittance they receive for their services (discussed at length here).

My gut tells me that the AMA’s trustees will suppress the revolt and continue backing the plan, but they’ve created a rift in the ranks that will not easily heal.

The Council Has Spoken: November 6, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: The Glittering Eye - What’s A Foreseeable Rate of Taxation?

Noncouncil: Black & Right - Comment of the Day

Full voting here.

Hero Cop Stops Psycho Psychiatrist

Officer Kimberly Munley is credited with taking down psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

Munley, who had been trained in active-response tactics, rushed into the building and confronted the shooter as he was turning a corner, Cone said.

“It was an amazing and an aggressive performance by this police officer,” Cone said.

Munley was only a few feet from Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan when she opened fire.

Wounded in the exchange of bullets, the 34-year-old Munley was reported in stable condition at a local hospital.

In a posting on her Twitter page before the shooting, she wrote: “I live a good life….a hard one, but I go to sleep peacefully @ night knowing that I may have made a difference in someone’s life.”

Thanks to her wits and guts people are alive today that would otherwise be in the morgue.

NY Daily Post Photo of Sgt. Kimberly Munley