Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Are You a Democrat, Republican, or Southern Republican?

Here is a little test that will help you decide...


You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes on you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges. You are carrying a Glock .40, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Democrat's Answer:

"Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!"

"Does the man look poor or oppressed?"

"Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?"

"Could we run away?"

"What does my wife think?"

"What about the kids?"

"Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?"

"What does the law say about this situation?"

"Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?"

"Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?"

"Is it possible he would be happy with just killing me?"

"Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?"

"If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?"

"Should I call 9-1-1?"

"Why is this street so deserted? We need to raise taxes, have a paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior."

"This is all so confusing! ! I need to debate this with some friends for few days and try to come to a consensus."

Republican's Answer:


Southern Republican's Answer:


click.....(sounds of reloading).




"Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips?"

Inside the Sheehan Camp: A Conservative's View

The RadioEqualizer has an interesting post by Curtis Loftis, a conservative activist. He managed to infiltrate the Cindy Sheehan camp in Crawford, Texas, and while incognito, saw the inner workings of this very professional public relations operation.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Costs of the Iraq War

David Francis pens a great article in today's Christian Science Monitor regarding the costs of the war in Iraq. It is stacking up as the third most costly war in 2005 dollars, going back trough all the wars since World War 1.

The last two paragraphs I found particularly interesting:
"From one standpoint, the US economy should find it easier to absorb the present war. Today's defense budget is about 4 percent of gross domestic product, the nation's output of goods and services. That compares with 6.2 percent in the 1980s, 9.4 percent in 1960 (Vietnam), 14.2 percent in 1953 (Korea), and 38 percent in 1944 (World War II).

In that respect, today's war "is much cheaper," says Kosiak."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Able Danger: A Third Source Corroborates Initial Claims

Fox News is reporting today that JD Smith (no relation), a defence contractor who was part of the Able Danger team, has come forward to confirm that at least some of the 9-11 hijackers were identified well before 9-11, but were not allowed to report the information to the FBI.

The most troubling thing about the Able Danger story is that the infamous "wall" between intellgence and law enforcement, created by Jamie Gorelick while in the Clinton Administration, and later a member of the 9-11 Commission, prevented this information flow, and the specter of a cover-up by Commission staff to protect those responsible hangs over the whole affair.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Interesting Stuff I Noticed Today

Michelle Malkin links to more lies from the Left (aka Mainstream Media).

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal has a great article on the continuing and irrational obsession of some on the Left claiming stolen elections in 2000 and 2004. (Hat tip American Thinker)

Patterico shares with us his letter to the New York Times regarding their columnist Paul Krugman's article on the election of 2000 in Florida.

A scientist quits an important panel studying global warming over charges that his co-panelists don't want to consider possibities other than established dogma.

The debate over whether global warming is increasing the severity and frequency of hurricanes rages on, though my money is on the guys who actually study hurricanes. (They don't think so.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

California Academic Performance Index (API)

The California 2004 API scores came out this week. The API is a measure of student performance in English, math, science, and related subjects. The scores are reported by county, district, and school, and even includes charter schools. The scores run between 200 and 1,000, with 800 being the target.

The API has become the primary yardstick for school performance since passage of the Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999. Each summer parents, teachers, and administrators wait anxiously for the scores to come out as so much is riding on the results. There are people who have sold their homes in one lower-performing district an bought another in a district with better API scores. New people moving in to an area often base their buying decisions on API scores. I suspect that teachers and administrators have been promoted or demoted based on their school or district's API rise or fall.

The scores are very easy reading, and most people assume that a school with low scores has bad teachers and/or administrators. But looking more deeply into the API report one can see that there is far more than meets the eye, and many schools and school employees have no doubt been unfairly judged as a result of not looking beyond the obvious. Digging just a little deeper into the report, results are listed by race. Reviewing the data by race suggests that something other than schools, teachers, and curriculum may be to blame for poor performance. By no means am I suggesting that one race is inherently smarter; I believe the source of the difference by race is the type of support that many kids at home.

Take San Diego County schools, since that is where I live and have the most familiarity. When an individual school is picked at random from the list linked above, a breakdown by race is shown. The Encinitas school district is in a fairly affluent coastal city of northern San Diego County. Capri Elementary has about an even mix of White and Latino students, but their scores are quite different. Whites scored 855 whereas Latinos scored 649. At a similar school in the same district, Park Dale Lane Elementary, whites outnumber Latinos by more than 3.5:1, and score 865 to Latinos 694. [Note: "Socioeconomically Disadvantaged" is defined as children of parents who both have not finished highschool, and/or participate in the school lunch program. Race is not a factor.]

So given the mix of students, Capri's overall API is a respectable yet below target 759, whereas Park Dale Lane scores an above-target 833. Most people who follow the API scores would rather send their kids to Park Dale Lane, of course, because it scored better. However, given the fact that the White students at Capri scored nearly identical to the White students at Park Dale Lane, a successful argument cannot be made that the school, the administrators, and the teachers are not adequately teaching their students. Click around some of the other schools, and you will find similar results almost everywhere. It is also interesting to note that when the racial breakdown is studied by district, where the samples are large enough, that is, Asian children seem to easily score the best. In the Encinitas district, Asian's cored 950, to White's 891, to Latino's 676.

Why though? What is the reason for the better scores of the White students? I don't for a second think that Latinos are in any way 'not as smart' as Whites. I work with many Latinos, I have many Latino friends, I married a Latina, my children are Latino, as are, of course, my in-laws. Latinos are smart, caring, hard working, happy people, and I am proud to have become part of the Latino culture. So if 'smarts' is not the answer, what is it? Why don't Latinos score higher as a group?

I believe that the reason is their parents. Many of them are first or second generation immigrants, and language is a big problem for them. They have not fully assimilated into American society, and often live each day speaking only Spanish. They watch Spanish TV, listen to Spanish radio, and read Spanish newspapers, and then when their kids come home they can't help them with their homework. Because of the schools, fortunately, the kids speak perfect English, but at home they must speak Spanish. This is not alway the case, of course, but seems to be the rule more often than not.

There also is the feeling among some parents, and this cuts across all races, is that educating children is the job of the schools, and parents don't think they have to do their part. But lets face it, education at the primary and secondary level is like a three-legged stool, where schools, students, and parents are each one leg. If one of the legs doesn't hold up its weight, the stool will fall over.

Can schools and teachers do a better job? I'm sure they would be the first to say "yes", and I believe they try to do so everyday. But we as parents MUST do a better job of helping our childen learn by helping, challenging, and nurturing their intellectual development.

This post also appears on Blogger News Network.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Able Danger Getting Uglier by the Day

Even the MSM smells blood in the water.

The New York Times has several new articles on the Able Danger scandal that put the 9-11 Commission, 9-11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, and the Clinton administration's "wall" between intelligence and the FBI in a very, very bad light. Could 9-11 have been prevented if information that can flow freely now have been in effect then?

Here are the articles:

"State Department Says..."

"Officer Says Military..."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Able Danger: Were the 9/11 Hijackers Known to the US Government As Early As 1999? ***UPDATE***

Saw this interesting article today that the 9/11 Commission will investigate claims by Congressman Curt Weldman (R-Penn), vice-chair of the Homeland Security and House Armed Services committees that "U.S. defense intelligence officials identified ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as a likely part of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the hijackings but didn't forward the information to law enforcement."


As I suspected this story has started to reverberate throughout the blogosphere, and even the MSM is starting to take notice (unlike the [Hot]AirAmerica scandal). Michelle Malkin has agreat round-up on the subject with lots of links.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

UAL Flight 934 Diverted to Boston

I received a copy of an email circulating in the airline/flight community detailing the events that took place aboard United Airlines Flight 934 late last month causing it to be diverted to Boston. This was written by one of the airline employees who was on the flight, and details what happened and why the flight crew was concerned about these passengers.

The email (slightly edited for clarity and privacy concerns) is below:
"Many of you may have seen CNN and other news reports or read in the papers about the LAX/[London] flight that diverted to Boston to remove three suspicious passengers. Well, guess who was lucky enough to be on the flight? Thanks to those of you who have called or written with their concern. I am fine and other than a million reports I have to write, all is well.

The three Pakistani passengers, two in BC [business class] seats (8A and 14D) and one in economy, got our attention before takeoff with self upgrading, moving about the plane, changing seats several times and asking the crew about our layover, where we stayed, etc. We basically ignored them and wrote them off as bothersome. During the bar service, two of the guys kept drinking a lot, and asking for refills before we got two rows away. Now we wrote them off as obnoxious, as well as annoying. We cut down the drinks to the guy in who wanted more scotch and wine with dinner. After the meal service, the guy in 8A, who hadn't said a word, got up and went to 14D and spoke with him for 10 minutes. We didn't even know they knew each other as they had no prior contact. The F/A's [flight attendants] in economy were concerned over the behavior of the economy passenger and asked for a name check. The cockpit got back to us to let us know all had gone through secondary clearance in LAX and were all ticketed to Islamabad, Pakistan. All the guys kept going to the bathroom and now we were checking the loos every time they came out. After 8A spoke with 14D, he (14D) went to economy and went straight to the overhead in 32CDE, took out a briefcase and brought it back to his BC seat. 32E was where the economy passenger was originally seated, but he had moved to 31G on the aisle. All the F/A's were keeping an eye on these three and every time we would casually look at them, they were staring at us, watching everything we were doing. The economy guy went to the back galley and kept the duty free sellers busy by asking to see everything and having them open several items to the point where one of them wrote on a piece of paper to another F/A, "He's distracting us, see what's happening in the cabin"....

I was communicating all this information to the cockpit, as well as our concerns. I don't think they took it as seriously as we did. That was until the economy guy went to the F/A's in the back and asked them if we had been up in the air for 3 1/2 hours yet. He kept asking when 3 1/2 hours would be. At the same time, the 14D guy went up to the BC F/A's and asked if we'd been flying 3, 3 1/2 or 4 hours yet. Now most passengers ask how much longer we have to go and not if we've been flying a specific time, and we figured with all their drinking, they didn't want to know the time so they could face Mecca for their prayers.

UAL and the pilots decided we needed to divert before we got over the Atlantic (we were about 3 1/2 hours out from LAX, over the Hudson Bay) so we did a slow turn and descent to Boston for 1:50 hours. We also pulled the circuit breaker on the airshow [stopped the in-flight entertainment]. About 5 minutes before landing, the Captain made announcement we had a navigational problem that needed to be looked at before we crossed the ocean. We were all watching the guys when they were told we were landing, and none reacted abnormally. We moved a very muscular passenger to seat 1E on the aisle and an SA to seat 1A and told them we had security issues and if anyone not in uniform came up the aisle towards the cockpit, they were to try and do anything to stop them. We also moved one of the F/A's sitting up front (she is 5 foot and weighs about 100 pounds) to another jumpseat and moved another male F/A up front so there were three guys in the jumpseats by the cockpit. Having done that, we realized [that she,] the F/A we moved, was so pissed off at these guys, she could have beat the [heck] out of all of them. The one nervous Nellie F/A who walked around with the ice mallet for the last two hours of the flight, we kept in the back where if anything did happen, he could scream and hit himself with the mallet. The Captain informed me just about everyone would meet the airplane.

The landing was normal, and very quiet on the plane since it was 0300 and most passengers were asleep when we woke them. [We] pulled to the gate, but the jetway didn't come toward us for two minutes. I looked out and saw about 30 swat team guys in flak jackets and machine guns. Well, I guess everyone figured out at this point it was not a navigational problem. As I went to door 2, the guy in 8A was staring out the window at our welcoming party. The guy in 14D was on his mobile phone and he was later observed hiding the phone in the pillow when the armed guys came on board. 20 swat team guys boarded the plane, ten down each aisle with guns ready. Most of the passengers were pretty freaked by this. The police took the three guys off. We had to help them find all their carry on. Most of the passengers were very helpful in trying to ID their hand carry on as we really had no idea of what was theirs.

The FBI, TSA, Joint Terrorism Task Force Rep, Boston Police, Airport Police and Massachusetts State Troopers interviewed the Captain, the two F/A's who had the most contact with them and me for two hours. The FBI also interviewed the passengers sitting around the guys. The FBI asked the Captain when he realized the severity of the situation, and he replied, "When he saw the fear in the eyes of his crew..."

By the time we got back to the plane, UAL Ops had shown up and arranged for the passengers to go to hotels for an 1100 departure to continue to London with a new crew. Of course, we then had to wait for immigration to show up since all the non-US and greencard holders were now reentering the US and had to fill out I-94 forms as new visitors and be fingerprinted and photographed again.

When we finally got to the hotel around 0730, we were already on the news, and several hours later, we heard the passengers were interviewed, cleared and released. The FBI told me they felt they were on a test run surveillance flight, observing and watching our routine and looking for weaknesses in our security. All the authorities reassured us we did the right thing and that was backed up by the passengers who thanked us and said that they were so glad we watching out for their well being. I think as F/A's, we sense when something just isn't right, and this flight had too many small incidents that didn't add up, and thankfully, we acted on our feelings."
We should all be on guard for similar circumstances.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Gitmo Detainees: Is their Detention Legal And Moral?

I had an email exchange with a reader this week regarding the detainment of so-called "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo), Cuba. My correspondent cited the judge's statement (PDF) at sentencing of Ahmed Ressam, the "Millenium Bomber", who was apprehended while he attempted to cross from Canada into the United States at a remote border crossing in the state of Washington. He was planning to bomb the Los Angeles International airport on New Year's Eve in 1999 at the "millenium". Mr. Ressam was found guilty, and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Here is what I consider the key passage of US federal Judge John Coughenor's statement at Mr. Ressam's sentencing:

"...I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.'

I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.'

Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens."

I agree completely. I don't support the indefinite detention of "enemy combatants", though Mr. Ressam doesn't fit the criteria for that status anyway. I do understand the reasoning behind the detentions, though I think that indefinite detention for these people is the wrong approach.

The Third Geneva Conventions clearly spell out how prisoners of war shall be treated, and Part 1, Article 4, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the III Geneva Conventions defines precisely who is a "prisoner of war":

"(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.'

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."
Given the specific conditions of part (2), it seems unlikely that many of those detained at Gitmo could be considered POW's under the Geneva Convention. In fact, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (July15, 2005) that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to al Qaeda, and that the Geneva Conventions themselves cannot be enforced in US courts.

But ruling in the Rasul v. Bush case in June of 2004, the US Supreme Court held that Gitmo detainees are entitled to challenge their incarceration in federal court, arguing essentially that since the US government holds legal authority over Gitmo and its facilities, that federal courts also hold jurisdiction over the detainees, hence their right to habeas corpus.

In discussions with my email correspondent, I argued erroneously that,
"...there is some contradictory logic here, in my opinion.'

"On the one hand, the government argues that since these people were not in uniform as "citizen" soldiers, that the Geneva Conventions don't apply. If that is true, then why can they [US Administration] at the same time detain them as "enemy combatants" under the same Geneva Convention?"
The flaw in my argument cited above is that the administration does NOT argue that that the detainment of these people, since they are not covered by the Geneva Conventions, is in any way governed by those very Conventions. In fact, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the appellate court held that the president had and has the authority, as Commander-in-Chief, and under the the Joint Resolution passed by Congress in 2001 giving the president the authority to use "all necessary and appropriate use of force", and, specifically the Presidential Military Order of November 13th, 2001. which outlines in detail the how "enemy combatants" are defined and treated.

Based on this more in-depth view of the circumstances surrounding the detainees at Gitmo, I believe that their detentions have so far been, and will continue to be lawful and moral, yet politically unwise. The American justice system and our unusual (by global standards) attention to the rights of the accused renders these long-term detentions inappropriate. Being who we are, the United States should, in my opinion, anyway, stand for justice even for those people that we find despicable.

This post also appears on Blogger News Network.