Friday, June 30, 2006

Sudoku Toilet Roll

Sudoku Toilet Roll
nuff said

The Friday Furo Questus

Warning: it's a long one.

Questus Furore - Dangerous Minds in Dangerous Times
What a weird and wild week.

Over the weekend, the New York Times revealed the existance of a top secret program to monitor financial transfers, with the intention of intercepting funds heading for terror groups and tracing their moneymasters. This was a program that worked, that the Congress (its leadership, at least) knew about, was legal, and so far had proven effective. The Times printed the story anyway, despite requests and pleas from the Administration to not publish, and rendered one of our key intelligence operations in the War on Terror inert. Such callous carelessness in times such as these is inexcusable; but it likely will also go unpunished.

On September 24, 2001, the Times was demanding that the Administration do something about terroist financing. How quickly memory fades.

And the real crimnials are the leakers - those who decided to talk, even though they had sworn an oath to keep quiet. But the penalty for oath-breaking is pretty mild today, at least in the civil service. Soldiers take a rather dimmer view of betrayal.

Then yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled against the United States government in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, stating that the President did not have the authority to try the prisoners captured by the United States on the battlefield to trial by military tribunal.

The usual critics came out and said this decision was a victory for truth, justice and democracy. (Since, according to them, Bush is against those things, and also puupies, kittens, rainbows, and sunlight.) I'm not convinced that the decision means as much as they think, given the sharp divide of the decision. (The decision was 5-3, with Scalia, Thomas, and Alito in the minority. Chief Justice Roberts abstained, as he had ruled on this case as an appeals court judge before - and upheld the government's position.)

While much remains to be written and said about the ultimate results of the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, and I'm not the legal scholar they are, I'll admit to being somewhat confused by this decision. In World War II, FDR ordered military tribunals to prosecute some German agents who were captured in a bungled attempt to start a sabotage campaign against American defense industries. This decision removes that precedent, and sends the government back to the drawing board and to Congress.

Why do I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach all of a sudden?

One point of concern is that the majority cites American law and the Geneva Convention in making concerns known over the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. There's one major problem with this approach.

Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups are not signatories to the Geneva Convention, and they are not part of any state's military. There are some, who claim that they are legitimate resistance fighters. If they were, they may be right, but there's a problem with that line of arguement. Al Qaeda is a stateless organization, whose stated goal is the creation of a caliphate, a totalitarian government flavored with extreme Islam. They're not resisting anything - they're seeking to overturn.

In my mind, they are analagous to pirates - stateless actors making war against all comers.

These two events, in and of themselves, are not catastrophic. They are pebbles in a much greater landslide. The latter is simply government, working as it was meant to; however I do believe the Supreme Court did not make the right decision.

The New York Times' blabbing is a greater concern, because it is illustrative of an all too common attitude.

Only those enlightened few, such as the New York Times, know the Truth. Only they. So there is no rule they do not feel justified in violating, no confidence they feel uncomfortable in divulging, no oath that is not worth breaking in service of that Truth. And they will not rest until every knee bows down to that Truth.

The problem is, their Truth is not what the rest of share. And it constantly shifts, never constant.

Peace, defined only as the absence of conflict, has become a virtue superior to all others - even at the expense of other virtues. Justice, tolerance and liberty have become buzzwords. We now not only hold all men equal, despite their works, but we hold all ideologies equal, even those diseased as the Islamist vision Bin Laden so gleefully advocates.

We fear to judge, for we have been told that judging is wrong. We refuse to differentiate, compare, and hold one thing better than another. In this modern view, the only differences between gold and dross are superficial.

We continue to become a nation incapable of rousing to its own defense.

Recommended Reading

Victor Davis Hanson, "Winning the Iraq Wars."

Michael Ledeen, "It's the Terrorism, Stupid."

"An Outrage." The Editors of NRO comment on the Hamdan decision.
In deciding as it did, the Court also ignored its own venerable precedent — of over a half-century’s standing — that the Geneva Conventions, even when they do create binding obligations on governments, do not create judicially enforceable rights for individuals. Disputes over their application are, rather, to be worked out diplomatically, among the political representatives of sovereigns. Moreover, the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant to Hamdan’s case. He is a terrorist combatant who fails to meet the conventions’ definition of a prisoner of war; consequently, he is not entitled to the conventions’ POW protections. In order to get around this inconvenient fact, the Court had to invoke (and distort) “Common Article 3” of the conventions, which applies only to civil wars taking place within the territory of a single country, as opposed to international conflicts. The Court argued, absurdly, that because al Qaeda is not a nation, it cannot be in an international conflict: so the global War on Terror is not “international,” despite having been fought in the United States, Somalia, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, and Iraq. As for Article 3’s requirement that the conflicts to which it applies be confined to a single country, the Court’s majority found an easy way to get around it: by ignoring it.
Jed Babbin, "Into Hamastan."
Palestinians are the only people apparently incapable of acting in their own self-interest. For generations they have been willfully ignorant of the fact that their refusal to make peace with Israel serves only their enemies. Since Israel was created by UN mandate, the Palestinians have been rejected by Jordan (itself 60% Palestinian), Egypt and Syria. Saudi Arabia and Lebanon don't want them. But for decades under Arafat, the Palestinians did the bidding of the same countries that rejected them. Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others bought Arafat's regime for the price of terrorist campaigns against Israel. They fund and provide sanctuary for Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups for two reasons: first, to keep alive the Palestinians' hope of erasing Israel from the map; and second to absorb the casualties in the terror war against Israel that those nations don't wish to suffer. In the Middle East, the stability that we have helped nurture is the stability of terrorist states.
Nicole Gelinas, "Subverting The War On Terror."

Powerline - "That's The Storyline." Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And so my low opinion of reporters drops even lower.

Thought of the Week
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn."

George Washington

Churchill Quote of the Week
"I was only the servant of my country and had I, at any moment, failed to express her unflinching resolve to fight and conquer, I should at once have been rightly cast aside."

Winston Churchill

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Flag-Burning Amendment

The official Pacific Slope stance on the proposed flag-burning amendment is: I'm opposed to amending the Constitution for this.

I think flag-burning is uncultured, juvenile, and stupid; the rare occasions the media deigns to show a picture of protestors burning a flag, my opinions are reinforced.

But amending the Constitution to deal with this is wrong. here's my thoughts on why:

  • There seems to me no pressing need for this at this time.
  • This threatens to raise flag-burners to martyr status - and those hippies and whackos get too much attention as it is.
  • Most importantly, the Constitution is a document detailing the restrictions on government, not on citizenry. The only place for an anti-flag-burning law is in the civil code, and so such a law is not possible unless the Supreme Court makes a new ruling allowing such a law.

    [This is why Supreme Court justices matter, and why its important to know and understand their views on the application of the law. In this case, by ruling laws forbidding flag-burning as unconstitutional, the Court has placed these acts beyond regulation by society, short of amending the Constitution. Whether their decisions are right or wrong, this ability to place acts beyond the reach of local lawmakers places a lot of power in the hands of nine unelected (and thus difficult to hold accountable) individuals. And the Court is not made of infallible people - you need only look at the Dred Scott decision for evidence of their human failings.]

I personally think there is a much better way to deal with this situation. Reduce beating the snot out of someone burning a flag from a felony to a misdemeanor, with a fine not to exceed $25 and payable to the arresting officer.

But that's just me. Leave your own thoughts in the comments below.

[Crossposted to The Pacific Slope.]

Saturday, June 24, 2006

McCain vs. Romney: Michigan Battleground

An interesting article in the Weekly Standard: "High Noon in Michigan."

Basically, the Republican primaries leading up to '08 could get real interesting. With Romney out of Massachusetts, he stands a good chance of claiming the New Hampshire primary, while McCain will likely take Iowa. Suddenly, the Michigan primary becomes much more important - and Romney comes from a family of prominent Michigan politicians.

Also - there's an interesting blog devoted specifically to the religious issues surrounding Romney's campaign. Check out Article 6 Blog.

[To the
RomneyWatch '08 main page.]

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - Strange Priorities
I would have thought, considering the political and media furor over alleged murders of civilians by American troops, that an atrocity carried out against American troops would have at least merited similar outrage and attention.

Especially since the American soldiers involved were not just executed, but mutilated and desecrated.

I was wrong. No politician has said more than a passing comment, and the story has already fallen off the front page.

I'm not saying the alleged murders by American troops are not news. They are. And the parties involved are being investigated, and if guilty will be held responsible.

I'm just saying a little equal time, a reminder of the type of people our troops are trying to defeat, is appropriate as well.

Maybe I'm naive. But that makes me angry. If such misplaced priorities are what it takes to be sophisticated, I'd rather be a naive fool.

Recommended Reading
Did you hear about the terror arrests last night? The seven (five of them American) who were plotting to take down the Sears Tower? You should.

Victor Davis Hanson, "Despair and Hope."

Jonah Goldberg two-fer: "The Curse of Wilson" and "Winning Is Not An Option."

North Korea:
Rich Lowry, "Shot Down."

Pacific Slope: "Missile Defense Becoming a Reality."

Regarding the events this week in Iraq:
Andrew McCarthy, "Geneva and Savagery."

John Donovan of Argghhh!, "The Grave of the Hundred Head."

And from the "simply cool" file:

Milblogs: "13+ Acres of Soverign American Territory." (And check out the battle in the comments.)

Thought of the Week
"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?"
James Madison (Federalist No. 51, 8 February 1788)

Churchill Quote of the Week
When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.
Sir Winston Churchill

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Missile Defense Becoming a Reality

Great article in TCS Daily by Alan Dowd on the current state of missile defense, as the U.S. stands up its missile interceptors in reaction to North Korea's latest bout of stupidity. (And pointed out by Instapundit, naturally.)

The technology is farther along than you realize. Granted, we are still in the initial phases of developing a missile defense doctrine, but the technologies are moving along into advanced stages of testing. In addition to the interceptors at Fort Greeley and Vandenburg Air Force Base, sea-based interceptors were successfully tested earlier this year, the airborne laser project is moving along well and will enter the main round of testing next year, and new land-based and space-based missile interceptors are in development.

One thing that surprised me - especially considering all the debating points that by adopting missile defense, America would isolate itself from the world - is the level of international involvement. Britain and Denmark have agreed to upgrade radars in Britain and Greenland for missile defense purposes; Poland overtly and the Czech Republic quietly have been intently exploring missile defense, with each volunteering to host a European missile interceptor base. Australia is on board, Canada is reconsidering its stance, and India is talking about it to the U.S. But more seriously than anyone else, Japan is working with America on all aspects of missile defense:
But no member of this amorphous IMD coalition seems more serious about the threat than Japan. With Kim Jong-Il just next door, that's understandable. According to the MDA, the Japanese system already includes a network of new ground-based radars; SM-3 interceptors, which attack incoming missiles at their highest point; missile-tracking Aegis warships, which patrol near rogue countries; and Patriot PAC-3s, which serve as a last line of defense. Last month, Japan agreed to deploy a new X-band radar near Misawa to support US and Japanese anti-missile assets. The two allies also agreed to establish a joint air and missile defense base at Yakota Air Base by 2010.

Plus, as the Claremont Institute's project on missile defense reported last month, the US and Japan have agreed to deploy new batteries of PAC-3 interceptor missiles at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. "Japan also plans to deploy PAC-3 batteries at bases in the Saitama and Shizuoka prefectures near Tokyo," according to Claremont. The two nations are also committed to co-developing a newer version of the SM-3.
There is a reason though: more than any other nation, Japan feels threatened by ballistic missiles from North Korea, and it's a good reason. In 1998, North Korea tested a medium-range ballistic missile, firing the missile well into the Pacific Ocean - and right over Japan, without any warning. It was a blunt message to Japan: we can hit any target in your country, from Honshu to Okinawa.

So the threat is there. And we're doing something about it.

[Crossposted to The Pacific Slope.]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Computers Are About To Get Faster

Researchers at I.B.M. and the Georgia Institute of Technology are set to announce today that they have broken the speed record for silicon-based chips with a semiconductor that operates 250 times faster than chips commonly used today.

The achievement is a major step in the evolution of computer semiconductor technology that could eventually lead to faster networks and more powerful electronics at lower prices, said Bernard Meyerson, vice president and chief technologist in I.B.M.'s systems and technology group. He said developments like this one typically found their way into commercial products in 12 to 24 months.

The researchers, using a cryogenic test station, achieved the speed milestone by "freezing" the chip to 451 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, using liquid helium. That temperature, normally found only in outer space, is just nine degrees above absolute zero, or the temperature at which all movement is thought to cease.

At 500 gigahertz, the technology is 250 times faster than chips in today's cellphones, which operate at 2 gigahertz. At room temperature, the chips operate at 350 gigahertz, far faster than other chips in commercial use today.

New York Times, June 20, 2006

As the article goes on to mention, this development means that there is still potential left in existing silicon-based chip technology.

There has been talk that the limits if silicon chips had been reached, that the barriers left were not our ability to make the microcircuits, but to cram any more circuits into a given space on a silicon chip.

Looks like the talk was wrong.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - Paved With Good Intentions

Campaign finance reform. Everybody's favorite bad idea.

As the editors at NRO relate today in "Free Kirby Wilbur," well-intentioned campaign finance law ends up colliding with the First Amendment provision for free speech.

And don't expect it to stop with talk radio hosts who have an opinion and decide to do something about it. There have been calls to enforce the provisions of McCain-Feingold on the Internet, as well. And no one really knows how that could play out.

Here's Tyler's position on campaign finance regulation: none. No limits, no restrictions on who can say what when. The only regulation I would support is one that demands the complete and accurate reporting of funds donated to a candidate, and that those reports be made public. That way, it's clear who's supporting who.

If a company dumps a bunch of money into a campaign, the press would be free to notice and report it. And if a newspaper editor starts unfairly going after a candidate, that candidate would be free to raise funds and purchase advertising to counter the claims.

Money cannot be removed from politics - McCain-Feingold proved that. The money just found new loopholes to work through. The only way to get private money out is to replace it with public money - and don't you think that will invite worse corruption? Not to mention favoring incumbents over challengers even more.

Money cannot be removed from politics - so make it easier to trace, and then get out of the way. And let the system work.

Recommended Reading

The Editors of National Review Online, "Free Kirby Wilbur."

VDH, "Betting on Defeat?"

Jonah Goldberg, "Winning Is Not An Option."

Michael Ledeen, "Nonsense."

And check this out: the Saddam Dossier, detailing Saddam's links to terror organizations.

Thought of the Week
“Creating smoking holes gives our lives meaning and enhances our manliness.”
Lt. Colonel at a counter-terrorism conference
The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

Churchill Quote of the Week
"It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar."
Winston Churchill

And he did.



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thought Of The Day

“Creating smoking holes gives our lives meaning and enhances our manliness.”
Lt. Colonel at a counter-terrorism conference

The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Wonders in Yellowstone

Made it back from Yellowstone, and had a good time. Got a couple of good pictures:

Yellowstone Rush Hour
Rush hour traffic in Yellowstone.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 2
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone.

Old Faithful 1
Old Faithful, mid-eruption.

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - A Good Day For The Good Guys
The "Emir of Iraq," Zarqawi, is no longer with us. A real shame, that.

Of course, the usual suspects are pooh-poohing the accomplishment, and trying to nit-pick.

Let's get something straight - deep down, we all know this is not the automatic end of the Iraqi troubles. No one really can say just how big a blow to them this was; there's just not enough information yet to make any kind of reasonable predicton.

But it was good to see that murdering scumbag finally eliminated as a problem.

Recommended Reading
VDH two-fer: "Vietnam, After All?" and "The American Way of War."

Jonah Goldberg, "The Price of Nice."

Michael Ledeen, "Iran Connects the Dots."

This is a little scary - a meteorite hit a remote region of Norway, exploding with the force of an atomic bomb.

Thought of the Week
"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence
in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the
Thomas Jefferson

Churchill Quote of the Week
"Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement."
Winston Churchill

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

To Make A Better World



It's worth taking a moment to remember. And John does his usual excellent job of remembering over at

Friday, June 02, 2006

Good idea?

The other day I passed a motorcycle with a special "Handicapped" license plate. Is that really such a good idea? Do we really need handicapped people cruising around on motorcycles?