Regulating CO2 gas

As the nearby chart shows, CO2 emissions growth in the U.S. far outpaced that of the 15 "old" members of the European Union from 1990-95 and especially from 1995-2000, when Mr. Climate Change himself, Al Gore, was the second-most powerful man in America. But, lo, the U.S. has outperformed the EU-15 since 2000, according to the latest U.N. data. America's rate of growth in CO2 emissions from 2000-04 was eight percentage points lower than from 1995-2000.

By comparison, the EU-15 saw an increase of 2.3 points. Only two EU states, Britain and Sweden, are on track to meet their Kyoto emissions commitments by 2010. Six more might meet their targets if they approve and implement new, as yet unspecified, policies to restrict carbon output, while seven of the 15 will miss their goals.

Cynics play down America's improvement, noting that its economy cooled from the earlier years to 2000-04. True, but the EU-15 also had lower economic growth in the latest period and still saw its emissions growth rate double. What's more, the U.S. economy expanded 38% faster than the EU-15 in 2000-04, and its population twice as fast. So the trend lines, for now, are reversing. That may frustrate the green lobby because so much of its fund raising depends on vilifying the U.S. But facts are facts, no matter how underreported they are.

Europe's dismal record is explained by its approach to reducing emissions. The centerpiece of the Continent's plan is a carbon-trading scheme in which companies in CO2-heavy industries receive tradable permits for a certain amount of emissions. If they emit more CO2, they must buy credits from firms that are under quota. The idea is to force companies to emit less CO2 by making it prohibitively expensive to keep the status quo.

All this scheme has done so far is provide further proof that government cannot replicate the wisdom of markets. A red-faced European Commission recently admitted that it allowed more permits than there were emissions in 2005-07, keeping permit prices low and undermining the entire system. When Brussels tried to make amends by ordering several member states to cut carbon permits by 7% more than expected for 2008-2012, industry and national capitals squealed. The market hadn't priced in such a dramatic reduction. With carbon permits trading relatively cheaply, firms have been able to get by with minimal changes to the way they do business. That has minimized Kyoto's economic impact.

From the WSJ. There is the hype that by not being a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol the US is un-enlightened compared to our EU counterpart. I guess this is just another example of being practical is superior to "being enlightened" or reality over ideal.


Court Gone Wild

From today's WSJ
In Robert Louis Stevenson's day, body snatchers dug up corpses in the dead of night. Modern body snatchers take tissue from the living, and they do it in daylight. This week in St. Louis, the Eighth Circuit heard an appeal in the case of William Catalona, a famous prostate-cancer surgeon and the man who developed the PSA test to screen for prostate cancer. Over the years Dr. Catalona collected thousands of tissue samples from his patients to help him research this dreaded disease. The tissues were all from individuals who had family histories of prostate cancer, indicating a genetic cause. When Dr. Catalona left Washington University for Northwestern, he wanted to take these tissues with him. Six thousand patients notified the university that they wished their tissues to go with him.

Ignoring the requests of patients, Washington University claimed the tissue collection as its own, and sued Dr. Catalona. In March of this year the district court ruled the collection belonged to the university. Judge Stephen Limbaugh found that the patients had given their tissues to WU as a gift, and therefore the university owned the tissues outright.

The decision surprised many. As a recipient of federal funds, Washington University was required to follow the federal regulations on informed consent for tissues received from patients. This included acknowledging in writing that the tissues would be used only for prostate research, that patients had the right to withdraw from the study at any time, and to have their tissue samples destroyed upon request.

However, Judge Limbaugh ruled that patients had no such rights. In his view, the right to withdraw merely meant the right not to contribute more tissues. The right to have the tissues destroyed meant only that the samples would be used anonymously. The guarantee that tissues would only be used for prostate research could be ignored, and WU was free to use the tissues for any purpose whatever.

This contradicted prior tissue cases in which courts have ruled that written documents do indeed afford patients ongoing rights to tissues after they had left their bodies. The fact that Judge Limbaugh's decision also abrogated federal guidelines left many observers uneasy. In addition there was the awkward legal matter that any donation with these restrictions could not be termed a gift. And the ethical issue was plain. Patients had donated their tissues with a written promise of control. Now that written promise was deemed worthless by a judge.

Research universities around the country greeted the ruling with unseemly enthusiasm, and hastily joined forces to prevent a successful legal appeal. Although the National Institutes of Health and other federal centers conduct research under the federal guidelines, universities now claim that these rules are impossibly onerous and impede research. Unless researchers are allowed to do whatever they want, they warn patients, the flow of life-saving miracles will dry up. This kind of high-handed attitude toward patients went out of style in the 1970s, after the first waves of malpractice litigation brought a bruising new reality to medicine.

Similarly harsh legal actions are likely to follow in the aftermath of the Catalona case. Patients have serious and legitimate interests -- practical, legal and religious -- in their tissues and how they are used in research. If the documents signed for WU are not sufficient to stand up in court, universities will soon face more restrictive language, this time drawn up by patients' rights groups. Major donors may be pressured to bypass universities that refuse to follow federal guidelines; alumni groups may be mobilized to protest university policies. Such tactics are known to be waiting in the wings, pending the Catalona appeal.

For universities, perhaps the most damaging outcome may be the loss of confidence that patients feel in major centers of research and healing. There was a time when physicians were ranked just below Supreme Court justices. Those days are long gone. Our university hospitals and major medical centers still command respect. But the perception that they are businesses like any other is growing stronger every day. Except, they're not -- they're non-profits, exempt from most of the rules and disclosures that are required of American businesses. In short, caveat patiens, keep copies of everything you sign, bring a lawyer to every medical appointment, and always, always watch your back.

This decision is very wrong and in the wrong run hurt biomedical research. If the patients do not have a right to withdraw consent and participation, then less will likely participate.


Flight Club

Very amusing and sadly disturbingly true.


the Iraq Civil War

This is a brilliantly insightful post at the Belmont Club regarding the "civil war" in Iraq. A must read in total but i will just quote the key analysis here:
The first and fatal miscalculation by the Sunnis was to think they could drive the US Armed Forces from Iraq, a gamble which they lost. Encouraged by the absence of a crushing campaign in northern Iraq, itself possibly caused by the absence of the 4ID from the OIF order of battle, and alienated by the American decision to "de-Baathize" Iraq, many former military Sunnis chose to continue resistance using guerilla tactics. By March, 2004 they were ready. The insurgent uprising of early 2004 that culminated in the abortive First Battle of Fallujah, which still saw the Shi'ites in as militarily inferiors. Moqtada al-Sadr's men were as yet limited to their bailiwicks and relatively weak. But doomed attempts to stand and fight against US forces eventually imposed crippling human and material losses on the Sunnis. The border with Syria was more closely patrolled. The US embarked on the what the Belmont Club called the River War to break up the logistical trail up and down the Euphrates. Sunni attempts to keep Mosul within the Sunni orbit also failed. But these were more than tactical defeats: they fatally undermined the strategic basis of Sunni power even as their ethnic rivals gained in strength.

The Sunni insurgency compounded its military failures by ruthlessly suppressing any attempts by their ethnic leaders to participate in political process sponsored by the Coalition and by murdering any Sunni who came forward to join the new Army and Police. The result was that Sunnis were underrepresented in both the Constitutional convention and in the elections of 2005. It was a double-whammy. Not only were Sunni military resources depleted, but they self-selected themselves out of the American sponsored Iraqi government. In my personal view, the Sunnis were encouraged along this path to disaster, not only by the mixed signals sent by the US, which alternately seemed to conciliate and confront them, but also by the coverage of the MSM which trumpeted the view that the Insurgency was growing more potent. Not only did the MSM penchant for listening to Sunni insurgent spokesmen undermine the US effort, it did even greater damage to the insurgents, who believed their own lies and reached for a brass ring fundamentally beyond their grasp.

What news stories missed until very recently was that the insurgent determination to fight increasingly sprang from despair rather than confidence in a Sunni restoration. The recent press release announcing the establishment of a rump Sunni "Caliphate" consisting largely of desert and absurd claims to oilfields beyond their grasp should have signalld how low their ambitions had fallen. But one person who understood how badly things stood for the Sunnis was Abu Musab Zarqawi. In the last months of his life, Zarqawi viewed with mounting alarm the American program to rebuild the Iraqi Army, largely from Kurds and Shi'ites -- since the Sunni insurgents did their level best to blow up any lines of Sunnis who applied for Iraqi Army or Police jobs -- and understood that unless he could drive America out of Iraq by other means all was lost. His solution was to unleash chaos upon everything. Whether or not Zarqawi was truly behind the attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra it suited his book. Zarqawi's only thought was to unleash Civil War to politically drive America from Iraq. It was the ultimate Scorched Earth tactic and one welcomed by neighboring countries eager to carve up what carcass would remain. What Zarqawi did not face, or could not face, is what would happen afterward.

Westhawk observes that American officers believe that "Iraq’s Sunni Arabs will continue to fight because they believe they face either extermination or banishment if they do not." With the Sunni military struggle essentially hopeless, efforts to redress the balance within the Iraqi political process arrived too late. The door had been barred by Shi'ite extremism fueled by Moqtada al-Sadr and separately, the agents of Iran. In a remarkable display of nonstatesmanship, the Shi'ite parties headed by Iraqi PM Maliki and goaded by al-Sadr proved less interested in building an Iraq than upon obtaining revenge upon their former masters. They failed to rein in their now powerful militias, increasingly able to harry the Sunnis at will. Then, having slammed two doors in their own faces: that of military victory and that of parliamentary viability, the Sunnis proceeded to bang yet another on their battered visage: the chance of protection under the Americans. After a sequence of failures, the gamble unleashed by Zarqawi ironically began to work all too well. The US electorate, disgusted by the internal slaughter, signalled in the mid-term elections of 2006 that it would consider withdrawal. And that, to the Sunnis spelled D-E-A-T-H. Without America to hold them back, the Shi'ite forces -- which the Sunni resistance and defeat ironically brought into ascendance -- would have no compunctions about slaughtering them. In the beginning the Shi'ite militias were only capable of attacking poor, isolated Sunnis. They are increasingly able to penetrate Sunni neighborhoods and to kidnap and kill former high-ranking Baathists.

Civil war or no civil war, whatever label is placed on the violence in Iraq is largely irrelevant. What is true is that the US presence is not making things worse but better. A US pull out will only escalate the violence to the point that neighboring power will be drawn in. Seeing that the regional powers constitute Saudi Arabia (global oil provider), Iran (wannabe nuclear power), and Syria (regional meddler also in Lebanon), a regional conflict in the heart of the Middle East will make the Iraq problem a global problem.

see also Crossroad Arabia on Saudi Arabia plans for Iraq.


Iraq Violence

As everyone knows, sectarian violence has been at an all time high in the past months. The latest in Bagdad today:
The radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose Mehdi Army is held responsible for much of the sectarian killings, threatens his party’s six ministers and 30 lawmakers will boycott the government if prime minister Nouri Maliki meets US president George W. Bush in Amman next week. At least 30 Sunnis were butchered - 6 burned alive - and four mosques torched in the Sunni Hurriyah district Friday by rampaging Shiites seeking vengeance for five massive bombings that left at least 240 dead in Sadr City Thursday, Nov. 23.

As grim as things are, I believe these are unfortunately necessary occurrences if Iraq is to make it. The people on both sides must come to a point when they come to tire of the killing and dying, that violence is an unacceptable mean to settle political differences. Then and only then can the Iraqi government exert it self and be welcomed to it.

We have seen this sort of process before, whether it be Kampuchea or Afghanistan. In IRaq itself the majority of the Sunni tribes having grown weary of Al Qaeda actions in Anbar, have banded together against Al Qaeda.
The Anbar tribes' turn against al-Qaeda has developed significantly since the end of the Anbar Campaign late last year, which swept al-Qaeda and the insurgency from the major towns and cities west of Ramadi. Over the past year, the majority of the tribes have denounced al-Qaeda and formed alliances with the Iraqi government and U.S. forces operating in the region. Numerous 'foreign fighters' have been killed or captured by the tribes. The tribes are working to restore order, and are providing recruits for the police and Army, despite horrific suicide attacks on recruiting centers. These attacks have not deterred the recruiting, but in fact have motivated the tribes to fight al-Qaeda.

More US troops can impose a peace, but it is the sort of imposed peace that only delays violence, as was the imposed peace in the Balkans by Tito.



the Fall of Civilization

This article is both disurbing and sad in unbearable ways: Jihadis and Whores
Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.

HT: Roger L Simon


the Iraq Solution

There is much talk from the newly victorious Democrats about the solution to the ongoing violence in Iraq. One premise is that as long as the US commitment is open ended, there is little urgency for the Iraqi to come to a political solution to resolve the violence. While superficially, the US presence may have prolonged the resolution of the current sectarian violence, our departure will not usher in a peaceful solution. Without the tempering presence of US troops, violence will likely escalate. The solution then will come when the majority Shia suppresses the minority Sunni by force, while the Kurds will likely withdraw under such "solution." The result is more violence and oppression by arms, not the “political” solution the cut and run crowd think or want to happen.

This was the "political" solution the North Vietnamese chose as well.

I wonder what the "(International Realist) Iraqi Study Group" will recommend.

The Americans Have Served Their Purpose, And It's Time For Them To Go
Rumsfeld and the Realist

Election 2006 v. 2004: The Losers

Hopefully, this will be my last post on the recent election result, but i do want to make a few observations.

1. I am glad that no one is proclaiming the need to migrate to Canada.
2. I am glad that there isn't any claim of stolen election.

I conclude that some are more mature than others when things don't go their way.


Veterans Day

Respectfully honoring the service of all veterans who have fought for freedom and justice.


Rumsfeld and the 06 Post Mortem

I am disappointed that Rumsfeld is the fall guy for the 2006 election losses for the Republicans. Clearly this was something discussed before last night as evidenced by the announcement within hours of electoral defeat and the immediate nomination of his replacement. I surmise that his resignation prior to today would have been seen as a political move to strengthen the Republican electoral chances, thereby weaken the morale of our troops and strengthened the nay saying hordes on the left. His resignation was an appeasement offering to the Republican Party who viewed that Bush's unpopularity as contributing to their electoral defeat. I do not believe he was forced out. I believed it was freely given, as it was before. Rumsfeld did what he could to transform the military, and I believe he served honorably and contributed significant improvement to our arms forces. His departure is our nations lost.

I am also disappointed because his resignation will not help the Republican cause. I am fairly certain the Republican defeat was in no way related to Bush. Bush's approval rating has consistently been higher than that of Republican controlled Congress. While the Iraq war may have been a factor, it was not the deciding factor. The deciding factor was the failure of the Republicans to deliver to the American people.

What have been wrought?
A drug prescription plan that was needed but birthed with unnecessary complicated rules for an elderly population that needed simplicity.
And little else comes to mind.
Where is the social security reform?
Where is the tax reform?
Where is the immigration reform?
Where is any meaningful legislation to make America better?
Note that G.W. Bush led the campaigns for all of these things, as well as the War on Terror.

Unfortunately, and fortunately, I do not foresee and significant programs or changes in the next two years either.

My advice to the Republican Party:
Start preparing now for 2006 by cleaning out all taint of corruptions now. And that may include forcing corrupt members to resign their seats. As there is no longer a Republican majority, their temporary absence would not be lost. Their replacement should be chosen with an eye toward 08. And on the way to 08, make it about an "ownership society" and about "personal responsibility."

Related on Rumsfeld's resignation:
Austin Bay
Former Spook
On the post mortem:
Former Spook
Roger L Simon

Election 2006: Outcome

As a firm supporter of the war on terror, including the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq, I am rather disappointed by yesterday's election result. I fear that just like when Congress cut fundings for South Vietnam 30+ years ago, they will do so again and abandon the all the millions of Iraqis interested in freedom and democracy. I sincerely hope that with the slew of moderate and conservative new Democrats, this will not happen.

I do believe that the move of the Democratic party toward the center is a good thing both for the Democratic party and the nation as a whole. This nation needs both political parties to be vibrant and reasonable.

I am intrigued by the situation in the Senate. There is an opportunity for the two independent senators, the most prominent being Joe Lieberman (who i liked for 2004), to make a difference as powerbroker between the Democrats and Republicans.


Election 2006

I voted.
I voted to keep the nuts from running this asylum.


2006 Election: National Referendum

The media is presenting this year's mid term election as a referendum on Bush and the Iraq war. Yet, if we believe the polls, the popular sentiment is much more one of displeasure of Congress than of the President. Approval to Disapproval polling for the President is 38%: 56% and for Congress is 27%: 65%. While national politics and issue always are considered, I believe that come Tuesday, the vote will remain a local issue driven election.


Iraq and Iran

What would happen if Iraq descends into chaos. How would the current players respond?

The US would likely retreat into Kurdistan and back into Kuwait.
The Shia and the Sunni will continue to duke it out in the remaining Iraq.

What would Iran do? Would Iran be drawn into Iraq? And could this then either ignite a regional war? If a regional war does not develop could Iran be drawn into an Iraq turmoil, now perpetuated by US and allies, and subsequently destabilize Iran itself?




While the world reacts to North Korea's recent nuclear test, and wait with baited breath as to what will happen next with Iran, I fear that the greatest nuclear danger will be overlooked. Pakistan, a nuclear state, is on the verge of becoming a failed state.

Firstly, Pakistan recently lost its western territory of Waziristan to the Taliban through a "peace" accord. Not only will this provide a haven for the Taliban to continue its activities in Afghanistan, it will allow the Islamofascists to continue to act against Pakistan. Already their influence in the Pakistan secret service continues to destabilize the region through support and planning of the terrorist attack in Mumbai on 711 against neighboring India, they are complicit in the recent bombing attack on Musharraf and the coup attempt against Pakistani president Musharraf. If the Islamofascist succeeds in winning control of Pakistan, they will have won in one stroke a nuclear Islamic state.

A nuclear North Korea can be contained and destabilized with China's help. Probably best done by opening up the border and allow North Koreans to leave. But actual military strike will be unacceptably risky for both South Korea and Japan; at least until an effective missile defense can be fielded.

A nuclear Iran is still a way off. Once there, a pre-empted strike will remain a viable option given the global failure of Diplomacy against North Korea. In addition, access to Iranians to destabilize the current regime in Tehran remains substantial.

But an Islamofascist control of Pakistan can happen over night. The only way this disaster can be averted is for Musharraf to stop appeasing the islamofascist elements of his government and clamp down and cleanse the radical elements, followed by a joint operation with NATO and Afghanistan and reclaim Waziristan.


Washington Scandals

By now we all have heard about the Mark Foley scandal. Nothing further needs to be mentioned here and in truth, it all seems just another example of inappropriate behavior from the politicians of Washington DC.

But I am struck by contrast between the host of allegations of wrong doing leveled against the Bush administration and the paucity of any actual and factual evidence of such. Lots of noise and blusters, very little substance. Sure there was the Plame affair but after all that time and effort, to say nothing of the money spent, the only finding was possible perjury by Scooter Libby. That is it.

This leads me to conclude that the source of allegations against Bush are predicated on political agendas rather than and legal or even moral substance. The Democratic party: lots of sounds and fury, signifying nothing.


Global War on Terror

This weekend saw the report that since 911, Islamic Terrorism has gotten worse globally. Aside from the poor reporting containing only hearsay which not much more need to be said of, if it was meant to be some sort of indictment of the GWoT I think they got it all wrong.

1. In a long war such as this war, if our actions do not anger those trying to destroy us, we are not doing enough.

2. If in being angered they reveal themselves as the Islamofascist that they are wanting to be, then even better and easier for us to kill them.

I do not understand why in waging a war so many still want us to play nice. Wars should be brutal enough to want to win rapidly lest any on either side think to drag it out longer than necessary, and enough so the peace afterward last a bit longer till the next war.

see also:
Roger L Simon's comment
In From the Cold additional snips from the same NIE analysis not reported by NYT or WaPo



Several activities are currently encircling what may or may not happen during interrogation of suspected terrorists.

The president is seeking clarification from the US congress on what is and what is not permissible. This is important to do to maintain legal support for our effort on the war on terror. Whatever is decided, it should not be less permissible than what we could do to arrested criminals.

Whatever policy we adopt will in no way increase or decrease the chances of our captured soldiers from being tortured. We cannot dictate the actions of our enemies. And we cannot hold them accountable. What Geneva Convention signatory nation have been fined or punished for torture? And what of non-signatories like terrorist organization? Will they care that we treat their prisoners nicely and thus not behead ours?

And what are the consequences of an overly strict policy regarding interrogation? Consider this perspective from the WSJ:
Opponents of interrogating al Qaeda detainees keep slandering the Bush Administration by equating all aggressive questioning techniques with "torture." What's more, they seem unable to draw the obvious lessons from our experience handling terror suspects thus far.

Take the case of Maher Arar, an apparently innocent Canadian citizen who was arrested at JFK airport in September 2002 and turned over to Syria -- a process known as "rendition" -- where he actually appears to have been tortured. According to some of our media colleagues, this shows that CIA officials can't be trusted with the authority they're seeking under the proposed new Detainee Act to use a number of "stress techniques" against high level al Qaeda detainees.

But Mr. Arar's case proves exactly the opposite. For starters, it was the Canadian government that supplied what appears to have been bad information about Mr. Arar's alleged al Qaeda ties. More to the point, the temptation to get vital information by "rendering" such suspects for interrogation by governments that have little respect for human rights will only increase if the CIA's own al Qaeda interrogation program is shut down. This may make some in Congress feel better about themselves, but it won't do much for the "rights" of those interrogated.

The White House has been negotiating over the issue with Senator John McCain so U.S. interrogators aren't left in legal limbo because Congress refuses to define our obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It's precisely such legal clarity that will limit potential abuses, rather than leaving Article 3 open to interpretation by individuals -- or by the likes of Syria, since as it stands every country in the world interprets Article 3 in its own way now.

Crucial to any compromise is that the new rules not only protect CIA interrogators under relevant U.S. law (the 1996 War Crimes Act), but also assert our understanding of our obligations under Geneva. This is not about "rewriting" Geneva, as Mr. McCain and others have previously suggested; it is about the necessity of fleshing out what vague Article 3 prohibitions against "humiliating" treatment and the like actually mean.

President Bush has been very strong on this issue so far. We trust he won't endorse anything now that falls short of the comprehensive legal clarity he's been right to demand.


911 Afterward

Our greatest mistake since 911 is that we as a nation have not unified for total war against our enemy.

In waging this war, we should show no mercy to those who have not have not shown mercy to the innocent.

And those who impede out effort should be treated as collaborators and facilitator of our enemies.


Vegetative thoughts

From the WSJ Science section:
In a startling new report in today's issue of the journal Science, however, scientists describe how the young accident victim in a vegetative state shows brain activity consistent with conscious awareness.

When the scientists spoke to her, advanced imaging showed, her brain registered activity in regions responsible for decoding language, just as the brains of normal volunteers do. When they used sentences with homonyms, which require more complicated semantic processing, the appropriate parts of her brain lit up, again just like healthy brains.

Either response might be dismissed as automatic and therefore unconscious. After all, some people in a vegetative state retain "islands" of preserved neural function, Nicholas Schiff of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and colleagues found in a 2002 study, but not in areas involved in higher mental function. Similarly, studies have shown that some people who are asleep, under general anesthesia or in a vegetative state show brain activity consistent with perceiving speech and responding to emotion-laden words and their name.

That's why simply responding to speech, admits neuroscientist Adrian Owens of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, who led the new study, is "not unequivocal evidence that [the woman] is consciously aware."

So they asked her to imagine playing tennis. Remarkably, this made neurons fire in the premotor cortex, a region that hums with activity when you mentally practice sophisticated movement, from a jump shot to a backhand. Then they asked her to imagine walking through each room of her house. This time her parahippocampal gyrus, which generates spatial maps, became active, again just as in healthy volunteers.

"We know from extensive research that brain responses of this type do not occur automatically," says Prof. Owens, but "require the willed, intentional action of the participant."

He cautions that the results apply only to this patient, and that others in a vegetative state aren't this responsive. Indeed, 60 previous patients in a vegetative state show no such brain activity, says Steven Laureys of the University of Liege, Belgium. "But she was different," he says. "Her brain activity shows a clear act of intention. The activity in her higher-order cognitive areas means, to me, that she was consciously aware of herself and her surroundings."

Lionel Naccache of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Orsay, France, calls the woman's response to the tennis and home tasks "quite spectacular" and evidence of "a rich mental life." But he notes that consciousness, according to neuroscience, requires engaging "in intentional actions or interactions" with the outside world. If she is conscious, why does she show no spontaneous intentional behavior, especially since there is no damage to parts of the brain that control moving or speaking?

Although the woman fits the diagnosis of being in a vegetative state, her brain activity raises the intriguing (or disturbing) possibility that there is a fully conscious being locked in that unresponsive body after all. The scientists doubt this, pointing out that there is nothing wrong with her motor function, so if there really were a conscious being in there she would purposefully move at least her eyes. Cornell's Dr. Schiff suspects that she may at least be moving into "a minimally conscious state."


Stifling Free Speech

It appears that elements of the US government is trying to pressure and influence a broadcast media company. It appears that leadership of the Democratic party is threatening ABC/Disney. Curious:
We write with serious concerns about the planned upcoming broadcast of The Path to 9/11 mini-series on September 10 and 11. Countless reports from experts on 9/11 who have viewed the program indicate numerous and serious inaccuracies that will undoubtedly serve to misinform the American people about the tragic events surrounding the terrible attacks of that day. Furthermore, the manner in which this program has been developed, funded, and advertised suggests a partisan bent unbecoming of a major company like Disney and a major and well respected news organization like ABC. We therefore urge you to cancel this broadcast to cease Disney’s plans to use it as a teaching tool in schools across America through Scholastic. Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events. [...]

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid

Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Senator Charles Schumer

Senator Byron Dorgan


Postwar Germany

Germany lost about 5 million soldiers in World War 2. Survivors were typically those that surrendered. These same survivors would return to rebuild the new Germany. I wonder if the same mindset that led soldiers to surrender has contributed to the current political mentality in Germany and perhaps all of continental Europe, the mindset of appeasement rather than risking one's life for a cause. Interesting.


Lebanon 5: France

Can France be any worse on the world's diplomatic stage? She fights the US for leadership to resolve the Lebanon crisis. She assumes authorship of the ceasefire resolution, UN SCR1701. She talks up leading the UN peacekeeping contingency. And once everything is agreed to upon, France backs out. Words such as fop and cowards spring to mind.

True no one was happy with the ceasefire resolution, but then why craft a resolution that you yourself are unhappy with enough not to want to participate in it? And despite its flaws, there were actual opportunity for France to shine.

I guess if you try to shine France to get a luster, all you get are crumbs.


Lebanon 4: the Players and the Ceasefire

After two days, the ceasefire in southern Lebanon appears to be holding. Here is my break down of how the various players fared.

Hezbollah has claimed a strategic victory over Israel in this latest conflict. This victory claim is partly true. Unlike all the previous Arab opponent of Israel, Hezbollah did not fold and this in itself is a feat, at least in Middle Eastern Arab context. But I suspect this strategic victory will be hollow. Firstly, they did not get widespread Arab state support that they had hoped for beyond their backers in Syria and Iran. As most Arab states are Sunni oriented, they and their Iranian handlers will now be seen as a greater threat to the region rather than an asset. How much of a threat will determine how much the Arab governments will take to counter them regionally. Secondly, their ability to manipulate western media has been degraded to some degree. An organization like Hezbollah requires sympathy from Western "progressive" to limit and minimize actions from Western "neocons." Losing both widespread Arab support and Western sympathy would be catastrophic. Thirdly, if the ceasefire does hold, Southern Lebanon remains devastated. If Hezbollah cannot deliver on its public service arena with humanitarian relief, they will be held accountable for the failure to rebuild as well as at fault for starting the war. Fourthly, surviving a military invasion that was limited in scale is not true military victory, and it could lead to hubris overconfidence. Already Hezbollah supporters and their family are streaming back into Southern Lebanon. I suspect this is partly to clog the roads south and delay deployment of the Lebanese army and UN "peace keepers" until they have replenished personnel losses in the south and partly to present a tougher resistance to any attempts at disarmament. However, if the ceasefire does not hold, this will only place more Hezbollah in vulnerable positions for elimination by Israel. Finally, there is no doubt Hezbollah as a military power has been significantly degraded. And unlike Israel, their military re-armament will be even tougher than before. Their claim to victory thus rest solely on survival, a survival that remain significantly threatened in peace ever more than before.

How Israel fared depends on what its true intention was in going into Lebanon and this remains unclear. I believe it is unlikely that Israel entered Lebanon in order to destroy Hezbollah, as this was simply not possible without an invasion of all of Lebanon and likely Syria as well. By the limited expressed goals and limited commitment of military resources, Israel was intentionally limiting its response to minimize the chances of a regional war. I believe Israel's true intent was to surprise Hezbollah with a disproportionate military response to degrade Hezbollah military capability, goad Hezbollah into revealing its missile capability and subsequently destroy them, and uncover international and Middle Eastern governments involvement and response. Certainly Hezbollah was caught off guard by the extent of Israel's response and though they survived it, they will certainly have to consider whether the capture of 2 IDF soldiers and claims of victory based on survival will be worth the price paid. Though thousands of missiles were launched into northern Israel, actual damage was minimal and thus their launch was essentially useless. The longer ranged missiles capable of greater damage were also exposed and likely more were destroyed than launch. Their destruction was likely, as they require a larger launch platform, and thus easier to spot for destruction. Unclear is how much Hezbollah was goaded into using their longer range missile rather than hiding them, but the surprise of Israel's disproportionate response would certainly lead Hezbollah to do as much as they can to strike back. In addition, two useful bits of information was also obtained by Israel, that Hezbollah did possess guided ordnances in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles but not possess weapons of mass destruction. On the international front, I believe Israel had to feel pleasantly surprised by the tepid support from regional Arab governments at the outset of the war. This support waned only when Israel failed to deliver a decisive blow quick enough. But Israel's limited military commitment was a calculated act as evidenced by gradual escalation and commitment of forces, especially the intentional call up of reservists as a ceasefire was being negotiated. Certainly Israel must feel some confidence that should Hezbollah violate the ceasefire, they have room to act decisively against Hezbollah. Over all, Israel did not lose with the current ceasefire. In essence, Israel's incursion into Lebanon was essentially a reconnaissance in force. Victory remains within Israel's reach should the Hezbollah violate the ceasefire.

The Lebanese government continues to be paralyzed. While the ceasefire affords them the opportunity to retake southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has not been sufficiently degraded to be disarmed by the Lebanese army. The paralysis comes from both the lack of capability and ability to confront and disarm Hezbollah, as well as continued lack of political will to do so. Hezbollah continues to hold too much political influence within the Lebanese government. Despite what claims of victory Hezbollah claim, now that the ceasefire has taken effect, the general Lebanese ill will toward Hezbollah for reckless adventurism will once again reasserts itself as the devastation will be compared to no gain whatsoever beyond boasting. In addition, any violation of the ceasefire by Hezbollah will be widely perceived even more so as HezbollahÂ’s problem with adventurism. It is also interesting to note that Hezbollah may realize this and thus have proclaimed victory for Lebanon instead of victory for Hezbollah alone. Objectively Lebanon lost, its southern infrastructures devastated, Hezbollah remains armed, and the ceasefire will end sooner or later.

The clear winner thus far is Syria. Firstly, it retains considerable influence in Lebanese politics and continues to perpetuatepoliticall division in Lebanon. This influence for division is the surest way to crush the Cedar revolution and keep Lebanon dependent on Syria. Secondly, as Hezbollah will need to be re-armed by Iran, Syria will continue to profit economically in the transfer ofmaterialss to Hezbollah, paid by Iran, as well as entrench its role as facilitator for Iran. Likely, we can expect greater muscle flexing by Syria in Iraq as well. Thirdly, even with the UN forces in Lebanon, Syria can be certain that in any direct conflict with Israel that a fair amount of Israel's military resources will be pinned toward Lebanon.

There is mixed result for Iran. In the short term, Iran has demonstrated that it can wield military power beyond its border in the form of Hezbollah. In addition, it can take some credit in Hezbollah's performance against Israel. However, substantial resources in arming Hezbollah has been squandered by Israel's disproportionate response. Years went into supplying Hezbollah and Iran certainly would have preferred to deploy them at a time of its own choosing. In addition, Iran's hand has been revealed to all and this will have consequences. At the United Nations, a tougher response can be expected to Iran's nuclear ambition. In addition, of the powers at work in the Middle East -- Arabs, Persian, Turks, Western, and Islamofascists -- to the Arabs, Iran has just declared itself as the biggest threat. The Turks have been dormant and will likely remain so in the next decade or two, the Western powers have been engaged as partners while kept at arms length, and the Islamofascists are already being hunted down andexterminatedd throughout Arab states. Iran has little to gain from being in such a position.

Another winner from this conflict is France. France has demonstrated its international power and influence by authoring the ceasefire resolution. Her stature has been elevated from her low of not being able to prevent the invasion of Iraq. France will also have direct influence in Lebanon when her troops are deployed as part of the UN force. The last time France was in Lebanon, her paratroopers were killed en masse by Hezbollah's suicide bombing along with the US marine barracks. While the risk of a repeat incidence exists, France's likely reaction wouldn't be withdrawal as before. Whether France can stomach military action in Lebanon against Hezbollah, or Israel, will depends on whether France thinks she can wrestle control of Lebanon from Syria.

I suspect the main reason why the United States supported the ceasefire was because of Iran, the perceived greatest threat to US interests in the region. By endorsing the ceasefire resolution in Lebanon, the US can maintain public and diplomatic scrutiny on Iran. Certainly the US can appease its ally Israel by resuppling Israel forces, assist with some reconstruction, and still be reassured that Israel will survive and be in a better state for the next (or re-newed) actions in Lebanon. For the US, the ceasefire was a regional delay action, as well as provide basis for more aggressive action, possibly including direct military action or via Israel, against Iran. Whether the US come out as the winner or the loser will depend on what happens with Iran. Only then can the ceasefire be deemed worthwhile for the US. However, I believe Iran is beyond negotiating with and the Western allies will lack the resolve to act.

Like France, the United Nations appears to have won. Diplomacy has worked again to keep the peace. But there can be no peace until one side is defeated. There were no defeats in the latest Lebanon war. Hezbollah's declaration of victory is not the same as Israel's declaration of defeat, and there was no such belief in Israel. In fact, Israel's grumbling is that more was not done in the war. This is a recipe for re-newed violence.

Also worth reading:
Counterterrorism blog's analysis of winners and losers.
Willisms' comment on victory and defeat.
Debka for current behind the scene machinations.


Fake but Real 2

Or how the MSM lap up staged propaganda pieces and present it as news. Here we see the "behind the scene" directing and display of object deaths:


From the Middle East to the World

HT to Crossoads Arabia.

Firstly, an arab background article on Hezbolla and Iran. No wonder then that most Sunni arab governments less than ardent support for Hezbolla against Israel. Once again, this only serve to remind us that the whole War on Terror is really a regional Middle East war between moderate and radical muslims, secular and islamist, as well as between Shia and Sunni, for domination in the Middle East. The west was caught in the crossfire for inadvertantly supporting the status quo of the region trying to evolve.
During the student uprising in July 1999 and the violent confrontations that followed between Arab residents of the Iranian city of Ahvaz and the security services, many student leaders and Arab officials in the city spoke about the presence of hundreds of Arab troops within the ranks of the Iranian security forces and the Revolutionary Guards units quelled the protests.

At the time, it was thought these Arab troops were members of the Badr Brigade, the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq . Yet, many who encountered these foreign soldiers commented on their Lebanese and Syrian accents.

The issue remained a mystery until this week, when Ali Akbar Mohatashemi, the former Iranian ambassador to Syria and the founding father of Hezbollah, revealed that members of the Party of God participated in the Iran-Iraq war side by side with the Revolutionary Guards. He described the relationship between Hezbollah and the Iranian regime as much more than the one linking a revolutionary regime with a foreign organization. Hezbollah, he indicated, is one of the institutions of the ruling regime in Tehran and a main element of its military.

Secondly is this piece on how the Muslims, like their secular "neocons" polars in the west, have come to see the uselessness of the UN.
Last week Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi spoke of growing Muslim contempt for the UN because of its failure to condemn Israel for the attack on Qana or the killing of UN observers at Khiam. At that time, little did he or anyone else realize how fast that contempt would spread. The way the UN draft resolution on Lebanon has been handled has all but finished the UN in the eyes of Arabs, Muslims and many other fair-minded individuals who belong to neither of those two groups. There should have been — could have been — a UN cease-fire resolution at least a week ago. There still isn’t one. Hundreds of Lebanese have died, victims as much of UN dithering as of Israeli bombs or Hezbollah missiles.

* * *

The UN’s political impotence has tainted it in Arab eyes. For 58 years it has been unable to protect the Palestinians; it failed the Iraqis and now it has failed the Lebanese. US vetoes to protect Israel along with the Jewish state’s unpunished refusals to comply with resolutions as well as Washington’s unpunished illegal invasion of Iraq have robbed the Arabs of any enthusiasm for, or faith in, the world body. This belated and crafty resolution — good only in that it may stop the killing — changes nothing.


Fake but real

This is an amazing expose by LittleGreenFootballs:

What was published by Reuters for July 26:

What was published by Reuters for August 5:

Note the Reuters modification of the lower left corner, and how miraculously new duplicate buildings have sprung up in the past 2 weeks, not to mention the fake photoshoped smoke.

I for one am glad that there are blogs like LGF that watch the MSM.
Funny and sad that one of the old role of the MSM was to watch the original watchmen, the government.

Background of the MSM gullibility if not culpability in broadcasting propaganda:


The Opposition

The essential problem of the left is moral and cultural relativism. Thus they seek equality for the sake of equality without consideration for morality or justice. Those that have only have because they took from those who do not have. The haves must be made to give back to those who don't have. This is the crux of the left domestic policy. Those that are strong must be oppressing those that are weak. The strong must be made weak. This is the crux of the left foreign policy.

Note that the ideology is to bring down the system rather than to actually help those who need help. Take from the rich rather than to make the poor richer. Weaken the strong rather than strengthen the weak. Currently the West (and the Israeli as pertains to the Middle East) are both prosperous and strong, thus they must be opposed with each breath.

Moral and cultural relativism is a rotten core belief yet it can perpetuate as long as there are those who have more and those who are stronger.


Lebanon 3

A few days old but still relevant as we all track the military actions in South Lebanon. Varifrank reminds us that:
I’ve been watching the war from afar. I haven’t been able to comment daily as I’ve been really busy with real revenue generating work instead of blogging. But I have come to one conclusion based on what I’ve seen and what we’ve heard.

It’s all crap.

It’s not the usual bias that I’m complaining about. It's not the usual “reporting news the way they want things to be” as news instead of commentary that is going on.

It’s that I don’t think what is happening – or what is being reported as happening is necessarily what is happening.

Relax for a just second loyal readers, I’m not the "black helicopter" type, that’s not what I’m saying.

Here’s what I’m talking about. When you see news coming from Israel, its censored. That’s a good thing. I support that, its saving lives. When you see news from Beirut, its also censored. It’s also mostly propaganda. It’s a fact. I think were all over the age of 5 here, so I don’t think anyone who reads this blog is going to slap themselves in the head and shout “ Oh say it isn’t so!”

The hardest thing when fighting insurgents/terrorists is actually getting them to fight on your terms. When you set the conditions for the confrontation, you choose conditions that are favorable to victory. This applies to all enemies in general but against conventional forces, they fight on similar terms and their effectiveness is similar, though hopefully inferior, to yours. When you are fighting insurgents, if they were smart, they would recognize their inferior capability in a stand-up fight and thus would retreat when facing a conventional force. But when dealing with Islamofascist insurgents, who think that God is with them and will bring them victory based on their faith alone, their ego can be used to draw them out to fight, and thus be killed.

If Hezbollah thinks they have a fighting chance against Israel, then so much the better. If they don't think they have a chance but can get away, they will run. If they do not think they can get away due to the overwhelming number of Israeli forces, they may just hole up, which makes getting them out harder. Unless Israel is willing to bypass these bunkers and just level them flat. Which is what I believe is happening at Hexbollah strongholds. The willingness of Israel to flatten these areas is also suggested by their pre-attack warnings for civilians to evacuate and their disinterest in taking and holding territory.

With what is going on in Southern Lebanon currently, the fat lady hasn't even come on stage yet.


Lebanon 2

Over at The Belmont Club Wretchard has an excellent post regarding what may be Israel's strategic plan against Hezbollah. Read it all!
Reduced to its essentials, the IDF strategy may be ridiculously simple: fix the Hezbollah force in Southern Lebanon while detaching its command structure from the field by simultaneously striking Beirut. One of the great mysteries, upon which newpaper accounts shed no light, is why the IDF should so furiously pulverize Hezbollah's enclaves in southern Beirut, blockade the port and disable the airport. The object isn't to shut down Lebanon. It is to momentarily disorient the Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut, so that in a moment of absentmindedness, the Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon will do what comes most naturally: commit themselves against the IDF.

I also believe that in order for Israel to destroy Hezbollah now and future, they will need to do more than just "disarm" Hezbollah. Part of Hezbollah power, both practically and public relation wise, are the social services Hezbollah provides in Southern Lebanon. Practically, they are the de facto government in Southern Lebanon because the central government of Lebanon cannot "keep the trains running on time" sort to speak. And this translates to political power that grants them legitimacy regionally. And this also has endeared them to Europe, granting them international legitimacy in the eyes of some as well.

Thus this war presents a second opportunity for the central Lebanese government to reassert itself in Southern Lebanon. With international assistance, primarily US but also EU, the central government should do all it can (without Hezbollah) to rebuild and provide for Southern Lebanon after the ceasefire and while Hezbollah seek to rebuild itself and its paramilitary infrastructure.

This is how Hezbollah can be destroyed. Degrade its military forces in war; marginalize its social services in peace. Have to win both.



Meanwhile on the Gaza front

All groups in Gaza, including Hamas, would now accept a cease-fire deal with Israel which would include releasing Gilad Shalit, according to the Palestinian Agriculture Minister, who also heads the coordinating committee of Palestinian organizations there.

Ibrahim Al-Naja said the factions were ready to stop the Qassam rocket fire if Israel's ceased all military moves against the Palestinian factions in Gaza. They are also ready to release Shalit in exchange for guaranteeing the future release of Palestinian prisoners.

Very interesting if true, that the Palestinians and Hamas have more sense than the Lebanese/Hezbollah. I laud this as the first wise strategic move from the Palestinians to move away from suicidal use of violence for nationhood.

At the same time, it kind of undermine the cause celebre of Hezbollah a bit doesn't it. Just demonstrating that Hezbollah's action is for Hezbollah/Syria/Iran rather than for Palestine, or for Lebanon.



What the government of Lebanon needs to do is to reassert is sovereignty. If they do not view Hezbollah actions against Israel as a threat to its sovereignty, then they in effect are accepting Hezbollah actions as legitimate actions of Lebanon. Under these condition Israel is making war against all of Lebanon and the Lebanese army needs to repel Israel. The Lebanese government must be able to militarily evict Israel, and or muster international support, military and or diplomatic, to do so. However, other than Iran, no other Middle Eastern nation are likely to do so. Syria will not risk injury and damage for the sake of Hezbollah, not to mention Lebanon.

However, if the Lebanese government view Hezbollah as a threat to itself as much as Israel's incursion, then there is an opportunity to address both.
Firstly, allow Israel to militarily degrade Hezbollah while responding to the humanitarian crisis and mustering the Lebanese army.
Secondly, broker a deal with Israel with international powers for the Lebanese army to occupy southern Lebanon and assume control from both Israel and Hezbollah. Thus avoiding foreign military forces in southern Lebanon.
Thirdly, disarm a weakened Hezbollah.

Update: From Debka regarding the behind the scene maneuvering in Lebanon with Rice's visit.
Speaking privately to PM Fouad Siniora Monday, July 24, the secretary of state said, according to DEBKAfile’s exclusive Middle East sources: You don’t want to be like the Palestinian Authority which stands by and watches its people go to ruin.

Before taking off for Jerusalem, she also met Nabih Berri, the pro-Syrian Shiite parliamentary speaker. He said later their talks had failed but, according to DEBKAfile, they did arrive at some tactic understandings. Before moving against his Shiite rival Hassan Nasrallah and the Hizballah, Berri preferred to wait for the first cracks to appear in their standing.

The US secretary also interviewed anti-Syrian coalition leaders, known as the “March 14 Camp.” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt remarked that Nasrallah was behaving like Yasser Arafat in the 1982 siege of Beirut. “He is willing to let the Lebanese capital burn while he haggles over terms of surrender.”

The Christian leader Samir Geagea said: The situation is terrible but the calamity has created an opportunity which we must not miss.”

Rice stressed to all her Lebanese interlocutors that the United States had never planned to use Lebanon to fight Iran. Americans, she said, would never forget that Hizballah is a terrorist organization which has murdered Americans and other nationals. Hizballah has a problem not just with the US president but with both houses of congress.

She rejected pro-Syrian leaders’ demand for a ceasefire without first establishing its components. Washington is willing to consider a multinational force, or even a NATO presence, but would insist on the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, namely the disarming of Hizballah. This could take place in stages but, first of all, Hizballah must give up its rockets, missiles and heavy weapons.

Condoleezza Rice informed Siniora that she was representing the position President Bush had put before Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal at the White House Sunday, July 23, implying that there was no point in the Lebanese running to the Saudis for help. They would have to cope with the crisis themselves


Pentagon Flight 77

When I moved to Arlington Virginia in December of 2001, the ruins of the Pentagon structures were still very much evident as it was a part of my daily commute. This video is incredible in deconstructing the event of that September morning.


Geneva Convention and PoW

This is the natural consequence of events surrounding the detainees at Guantanamo as played out in the left driven media and recent court decision. I support this stance whole heartedly.
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.

Killing terrorists during a conflict isn't barbaric or immoral - or even illegal. We've imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven't been stymied by others, but by ourselves.

The oft-cited, seldom-read Geneva and Hague Conventions define legal combatants as those who visibly identify themselves by wearing uniforms or distinguishing insignia (the latter provision covers honorable partisans - but no badges or armbands, no protection). Those who wear civilian clothes to ambush soldiers or collect intelligence are assassins and spies - beyond the pale of law.

Traditionally, those who masquerade as civilians in order to kill legal combatants have been executed promptly, without trial. Severity, not sloppy leftist pandering, kept warfare within some decent bounds at least part of the time. But we have reached a point at which the rules apply only to us, while our enemies are permitted unrestricted freedom.

The present situation encourages our enemies to behave wantonly, while crippling our attempts to deal with terror.

Consider today's norm: A terrorist in civilian clothes can explode an IED, killing and maiming American troops or innocent civilians, then demand humane treatment if captured - and the media will step in as his champion. A disguised insurgent can shoot his rockets, throw his grenades, empty his magazines, kill and wound our troops, then, out of ammo, raise his hands and demand three hots and a cot while he invents tales of abuse.

Conferring unprecedented legal status upon these murderous transnational outlaws is unnecessary, unwise and ultimately suicidal. It exalts monsters. And it provides the anti-American pack with living vermin to anoint as victims, if not heroes.

Isn't it time we gave our critics what they're asking for? Let's solve the "unjust" imprisonment problem, once and for all. No more Guantanamos! Every terrorist mission should be a suicide mission. With our help.

The Geneva Convention had two intentions in mind. The first and foremost intention is the protection of innocent civilians in areas of conflict. This intention is achieved by differentiating combatants from civilians based on dress code and uniform. An enemy combatant masquerading as a civilian would put the lives of all nearby civilians at risks, thus is not protected by the Geneva Convention. The terrorists clearly fall outside of the Geneva Convention based on this criteria alone.

Secondly, the Geneva Convention seeks to protect legal combatants taken as prisoners of war. This is achieved primarily based on good faith, that "I will take care of your captured legal combatants and you will do similar with mine." The terrorists' regular execution of captured, both civilians and legal combatants, have demonstrated that there can be no good faith in this regard. If our captured are to be executed, we should consider the same.

Of note is that there is no room to put on trial enemy combatants captured. If they are illegal combatants, they could be executed without trials. If they are captured as prisoner of war and good faith is maintained, then there is no room for a "show trial" of any sort. If there is no good faith, then the Geneva Convention does not apply and a trial is not necessary.

HT Powerline
Also at WILLisms


Academic Independence

Happy Independence America!

On the topic of Independence, consider this item on the Academic Independence:
DENVER -- Three years ago, David Horowitz came to Colorado to promote his newly inked Academic Bill of Rights, a plan the radical-turned-conservative activist said was needed to liberate students from an oppressive atmosphere of liberal groupthink at the nation's universities.
Critics had scoffed at the assertion by Mr. Horowitz -- who in the 1960s had been a prominent left-wing student activist -- that freedom on 21st-century campuses was being crushed by a tyrannical regime of political correctness.
But as then-state Senate Majority Leader John Andrews listened to Mr. Horowitz over breakfast at the Brown Palace Hotel, he agreed the time was ripe for an intellectual revolution.
"We were finishing each other's sentences, because this has been a concern for conservatives for such a long time," Mr. Andrews recalled. "I started working on and researching legislation right away."
A few months later, the Colorado legislature became the first to broker a deal with state universities on policies to protect students from political discrimination.
Since then, the Academic Bill of Rights, which says students should be graded and faculty should be hired and promoted without regard to their political or religious beliefs, has inspired the introduction of legislation in 18 states. Ohio and Tennessee struck deals with their universities on protecting academic freedom in lieu of legislation.
Meanwhile, Students for Academic Freedom, the campus watchdog group founded by Mr. Horowitz, has established chapters on more than 150 campuses

What are the items in particular?
1. Faculty members shall be hired and fired based on their competence and expertise, not their political or religious beliefs.

2. No faculty member shall be excluded from hiring, firing or tenure committees based on political or religious beliefs.

3. Students will be graded solely on their knowledge of a subject matter, not political or religious beliefs.

4. Reading lists should reflect a broad range of knowledge within a discipline.

5. Faculty will expose students to a wide range of viewpoints, not use their courses "for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.

6. Campus speakers should reflect a broad range of viewpoints.

7. Efforts to censor viewpoints by obstructing invited speakers or destroying literature will not be tolerated.

8. Academic institutions and professional societies should maintain a position of organizational neutrality on scholarly disputes over resea

The Full Bill of Rights
HT Powerline


Inconvenient Truth: Kyoto

Want to know the consequences of the US not signing the Kyoto Protoco? From The Business Online:
THE United States has frozen its carbon dioxide emissions at a time when signatories of the Kyoto Protocol are conceding that they cannot meet their own targets, according to official figures released last week.

While the American economy grew by 3.5% last year, more than twice the European average, its fossil fuel emissions were up by only 0.1% – with no growth in road pollution and a drop in aircraft emissions.

Its progress came as several members of the European Union (EU) missed the deadline to submit new targets to reduce their carbon footprint with Germany demanding an opt-out for its power stations and Spain and Portugal preparing to abandon their target.

The US Energy Department said last week that rising fuel prices had a profound effect on its economy, encouraging the shift to more efficient technology and seeing a decline in carbon usage, which many European countries would find enviable.
The oil price rises hit the US proportionately harder as its petrol is taxed at a lower rate. Pump prices in the United States jumped 19% to 61cents (35.2p) a litre while UK prices rose by just 3.6% to 89.4p a litre with similar rises across Europe.

Road pollution increases were halted across the US and aircraft CO2 emissions declined. American industry reduced its carbon emissions overall by 3.3% – a trend reflecting the economic shift from manufacturing

Since 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was first signed, the US has now made more progress in reducing its per capita fossil fuel emissions than the UK, France, Spain, Finland, Sweden and Japan – even before its economic growth is considered.
The US is frequently criticised for having the highest CO2 emissions in the world – 19.5 tons per person. This is more than twice the level of Britain, at 9.5 tons a head, which itself is sharply ahead of nuclear-driven France at 6.8 tons a head.
The Bush administration has said this is because the US generates more wealth than any country in the world, and it has instead said carbon emissions should be judged as a function of economic wealth created, not per capita.

Although President George Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, after a bipartisan vote in Congress, America has made substantially more progress than its European counterparts, which are still signed up to reach its targets.

The EU has moved to a new flagship environment policy called the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and all 25 member states were due by the end of last week to have submitted their carbon reduction targets for the period from 2008 to 2012.

Those countries that went public with their plans had low ambitions. The German government said last week it would be able to reduce its carbon emissions by only 1% by 2012 and has said this will not apply to its new power plants.

David Miliband, UK Environment Secretary, acknowledged last week that the government is “off track” in meeting its own target of reducing emissions by 20% under the 1990 baseline set by Kyoto. It has met the 10% target.

Spanish carbon emissions were 48% above the 1990 base in 2004, more then treble the 15% limit of its Kyoto target. Portugal, Greece and Ireland – also Kyoto signatories – all have emissions at least 20% higher

Of the 30 industrialised countries which signed Kyoto, 17 were exceeding their targets at the time the last count was taken, in 2004. Japan pledged itself to a 6% drop in its 1990 emissions levels, yet has so far experienced a 7% rise.

The main US increase was registered from air conditioning, reflecting an economic boom in America’s hotter states. Arizona’s economy grew by an extraordinary 8.7% over the year and Nevada’s by 8.2% – both on a par with the growth rates in India.

Well wishes and intention are not enough to change the world. Legislation without basis in practical reality won't either.

HT: No Parasan


Guantanamo Trials

The US Supreme Court has ruled against military tribunal trials for detainees at Guantanamo.
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court, in major defeat for President George W. Bush's administration, blocked the U.S. military's current terrorism tribunal system, ruling 5-3 the commission's "structure and procedures" violate both military rules and the Geneva Conventions.

Justice John Paul Stevens, in a decision that drew five votes on significant points, said the military must revamp the system. "We conclude that the military commission convened to try Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions," Justice Stevens wrote.

In hearing the case of detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the high court was reviewing several matters, including the ability of the U.S. military to try terrorism suspects held in Guantanamo Bay outside prisoner-of-war procedures and the legality of a 2005 congressional act restricting Supreme Court review of those cases.

The as per the Geneva Convention, PoW cannot be put on trial by their captors. This stands to reason as there can only be one outcome of any such trials: Guilty! We should treat the Guantanamo detainees the same way. As we cannot and should not put the detainees on trial, and we should not and must not release them to commit more acts of terrorism, they should be detained until the War on Terror is won, or until their State of origin requests their return.

From the WSJ
The Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, invalidating for now the use of military commissions to try al Qaeda and associated detainees, may be a setback for U.S. policy in the war on terror. But it is a setback with a sterling silver lining. All eight of the justices participating in this case agreed that military commissions are a legitimate part of the American legal tradition that can, in appropriate circumstances, be used to try and punish individuals captured in the war on terror. Moreover, nothing in the decision suggests that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay must, or should, be closed.

Indeed, none of the justices questioned the government's right to detain Salim Ahmed Hamdan (once Osama bin Laden's driver), or other Guantanamo prisoners, while hostilities continue. Nor did any of them suggest that Mr. Hamdan, or any other Guantanamo detainee, must be treated as civilians and accorded a speedy trial in the civilian courts. Precisely because opponents of the Bush administration's detention policies have advanced these, or substantially similar claims, Hamdan has dealt them a decisive defeat. Together with the Supreme Court's 2004 decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld -- directly affirming the government's right to capture and detain, without criminal charge or trial, al Qaeda and allied operatives until hostilities are concluded -- Hamdan vindicates the basic legal architecture relied upon by the administration in prosecuting this war.

As I suggested, we should just keep them as detainees without trials, military or civilian.


Inconvenient Truth behind the "Inconvenient Truth"

What exactly is the truth and science behind global warming? Is it really an Inconvenient Truth?
Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"

HT Roger Simon


the Left

George W Bush went to Iraq today, and returned safely. But I wonder what the news would have been like had he been killed. Would there be glee from the left that an American President has been killed?


Memorial day

Honor those who served, still missing in action, interred in rest, and living victorious. From the WSJ.
Here's a Memorial Day quiz:

1. Who is Jessica Lynch?

Correct. She's the Army private captured, and later rescued, in the early days of the war.

2. Who is Leigh Ann Hester?

Come on. The Kentucky National Guard vehicle commander was awarded a Silver Star last year for fighting off an insurgent attack on a convoy in Iraq. The first woman to receive a Silver Star since World War II, and the first woman ever to receive one for close combat.

If you don't recognize Sergeant Hester's name, that's not surprising. While Private Lynch's ordeal appears in some 12,992 newspaper and broadcast reports on the Factiva news service, Sergeant Hester and her decoration for extraordinary valor show up in only 162.

One difference: Sergeant Hester is a victor, while Private Lynch can be seen as a victim. And when it comes to media reports about the military these days, victimology is all the rage. For every story about someone who served out of conviction and resolutely went on with his civilian life, there are many more articles about a soldier's failure or a veteran's floundering.

It's a sign of some progress that the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are not spit upon and shunned as Vietnam vets were. Yet there may be something more pernicious about mouthing "Support Our Troops" while also asserting that many of them are poor, uneducated dupes who were cannon fodder overseas and have come home as basket cases, plagued by a range of mental, emotional and financial problems.

The vast majority of vets don't fit that description. Many, like one returned Army guardsman we talked to, chalk up this portrayal to the media's fascination with bad news in general. As for his combat in Iraq, both "going to war and coming home is very overwhelming," he says. "But you make choices in life . . . and through inner strength and support, I am making a choice that I want to be healthy."

In some cases, the depiction of military personnel as damaged goods serves the antiwar agenda. Yet retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Tom Linn sees more basic impulses at work. "I honestly believe it is guilt" and even resentment, he says. The military type as misfit "is a stereotype that a lot of people from the Vietnam era have held on to." Then, as now, "they saw men and women who did more than they did . . . and they'd compensate by casting those folks in an inferior status."

This Memorial Day, most of us will remember the Americans who have served their country since the Revolutionary War not with pity but with admiration. For those who want to show their gratitude, Major John Morris has some recommendations. He's deputy chaplain for Minnesota's Army National Guard and a founder of a state program called Reintegration: Beyond Reunion. Its broad goal, he explains, is to help returning guardsmen and reservists frame their "experience, to draw from it everything that they can to grow into productive citizens."

How can we help? For one thing, he says, don't assume that all struggling vets are sick, since what looks like abnormal behavior may be culture shock. But do give vets and their families the tools to adjust. Major Morris explains: "Schools, look out for these military kids. Neighbors, cut their grass and shovel their snow, babysit and do chores around the house. Employers, make sure those jobs are still there." It's the least we can do, he says: "Since there are so few of us fighting the war, it's easy for the rest of us to try."


Immigration 2: Legal Residency Instead of Citizenship

Previously I considered allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to become citizens. I now think a better idea would be to allow them legal resident status but do not grant them citizenship. As legal residents they would be protected by the law and be eligible for medicare and medicaid, but not be eligible for social security or voting rights. As any comprehensive immigration policy must include boder security, I would expect the total numbers of illegal immigrants to decline with time, as well as a proportionate decline in the number of illegal immigrants who become legal residents.


Victory in Iraq 2

Interesting report from Powerline and Ed Morrisey

1. It has been proven that the Shiites have a power and influence in Baghdad that cannot be taken lightly, particularly when the power of the Ministries of Interior and Defense is given to them, compared with the power of the mujahidin in Baghdad. During a military confrontation, they will be in a better position because they represent the power of the state along with the power of the popular militias. Most of the mujahidin power lies in surprise attacks (hit and run) or setting up explosive charges and booby traps. This is a different matter than a battle with organized forces that possess machinery and suitable communications networks. Thus, what is fixed in the minds of the Shiite and Sunni population is that the Shiites are stronger in Baghdad and closer to controlling it while the mujahidin (who represent the backbone of the Sunni people) are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the Shiite government. The only power the mujahidin have is what they have already demonstrated in hunting down drifted patrols and taking sniper shots at those patrol members who stray far from their patrols, or planting booby traps among the citizens and hiding among them in the hope that the explosions will injure an American or members of the government. In other words, these activities could be understood as hitting the scared and the hiding ones, which is an image that requires a concerted effort to change, as well as Allah’s wisdom.

2. The strength of the brothers in Baghdad is built mainly on booby trapped cars, and most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin without any organized military capabilities.

3. There is a clear absence of organization among the groups of the brothers in Baghdad, whether at the leadership level in Baghdad, the brigade leaders, or their groups therein. Coordination among them is very difficult, which appears clearly when the group undertake a join operations

4. The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction.

This direction has large positive effects; however, being preoccupied with it alone delays more important operations such as taking control of some areas, preserving it and assuming power in Baghdad (for example, taking control of a university, a hospital, or a Sunni religious site).

At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin’s control and influence over Baghdad.

5. The role that the Islamic party and the Islamic Scholars Committee play in numbing the Sunni people through the media is a dangerous role. It has been proven from the course of the events that the American investment in the Party and the Committee were not in vain. In spite of the gravity of the events, they were able to calm down the Sunni people, justify the enemy deeds, and give the enemy the opportunity to do more work without any recourse and supervision. This situation stemmed from two matters:

First, their media power is presented by their special radio and TV stations as the sole Sunni information source, coupled with our weak media which is confined mainly to the Internet, without a flyer or newspaper to present these events.

Second, in the course of their control of the majority of the speakers at mosques who convert right into wrong and wrong into right, and present Islam in a sinful manner and sins in a Muslim manner. At the same time we did not have any positive impact or benefits from our operations.

6. The mujahidin do not have any stored weapons and ammunition in their possession in Baghdad, particularly rockets, such as C5K Katyosha or bomber or mortars which we realized their importance and shortage in Baghdad. That was due to lack of check and balance, and proper follow-ups.

7. The National Guard status is frequently raised and whether they belong to the Sunnis or Shiites. Too much talk is around whether we belong to them or not, or should we strike and kill their men or not?

It is believed that this matter serves the Americans very well. I believe that the Committee and the Party are pushing this issue because they want to have an influence, similar to the Mujahidin’s. When and if a Sunni units from the National Guard are formed, and begin to compete with the mujahidin and squeeze them, we will have a problem; we either let them go beyond the limits or fight them and risk inciting the Sunnis against us through the Party’s and the Committee’s channels.

I believe that we should not allow this situation to exist at all, and we should bury it before it surfaces and reject any suggestion to that effect.

Again, observe how Al Qaeda strategy involves playing our media. And amazingly, our media appear to be all willing accomplists.


Islamism and Terrorism 2

There are two problems at hand here. One is with with Islam itself. The other is the adoption of Sharia as legal precendence (i.e. the lack of separation between church and state). Efforts to reform Islam such as this one by Malek Chebel are being proposed:
In his Manifesto for an Enlightened Islam (Manifeste pour un islam des lumières), Chebel puts forth 27 proposals for extensively reforming Islam. He turns to the values of the 18th-century European Enlightenment for guidance, when rationalism and secularism guided the drive towards cultural, social and political progress. Chebel's first two propositions set the principles of reform: a new interpretation of the Koran, and the preeminence of reason over creed. However, he dismisses atheism, noting that "nothing very important is achieved outside the framework of religion." [1]

Chebel calls for putting an end to violence in the name of Islam; for renouncing Jihad, which is, in his eyes, immoral; for abolishing all fatwas calling for death; and for abolishing Islamic corporal punishment. Chebel stands against female genital mutilation and for banning slavery and trafficking in human beings in the Arab world; for strict punishment of the perpetrators of honor crimes and for promoting the status of women.

Most of Chebel's propositions deal with politics: He advocates an independent judiciary, the preeminence of the individual over the Islamic nation, and the struggle against political assassinations in an effort to promote democracy in the Arab world. He also advocates fundamental cultural changes, such as turning freedom of thought into a Muslim value, renouncing the cult of personality, respecting the other, and fighting corruption.

His other propositions address technology, bioethics, ecology, and the media. The last one reaffirms the preeminence of human beings over religion. Chebel's propositions aim at providing keys to a modern, reformed, enlightened Islam.

With regards to separation of church and state, the state will only reform when it sees a threat. That threat has now been recognized in the form of terrorism. Saudi Arabia is moving toward reforms to minimize the terrorism threat.
Country Terrorism Report: Saudi Arabia
Saudi Effort Draws on Radical Clerics to Combat Lure of Al-Qaeda
Saudis to Clean Up Libraries

In addition, effective reform must also come from the people.
Learning to Think and Tolerate Differences in Saudi Society
Saudi Human Rights Organization

Why must we fight?
Part of me died when I saw this cruel killing.
*Update* Atwar Bahjat Beheading Video a Hoax
United 93

Islamism and Terrorism 1
"Allahu Akbar" Indeed at All Things Beautiful


Bigot Crossings

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Which party has more bigots -- Republicans or Democrats?

Conventional wisdom says the GOP. After all, the vast majority of African-Americans vote Democratic, and the establishment media frequently imply the GOP harbors hostility to minorities (as in the comment by a network correspondent that a GOP effort to project an "image of tolerance and diversity [is] starkly at odds with reality").

A recent analysis by Yale's Ebonya Washington in the Quarterly Journal of Economics sheds a different light on the question. It examines the phenomenon of crossover voting -- specifically, the percentage of voters from either party who pull the lever for the other party's candidate.

In the several elections between 1982 and 2000 that Ms. Washington studied, when the Republican congressional candidate was black and the Democratic candidate was not, Republican crossover voting increased 25 percent. In gubernatorial contests with the same racial dynamic, GOP crossover voting increased 18 percent.

Now flip the script. When the Democratic candidates were black and the Republican candidates were not, Democratic crossover votes increased 38 percent in congressional contests and 20 percent in gubernatorial contests.

In short, Democrats flee from black candidates more often than Republicans do.

Interesting how what popular impression is different once analyzed.


Taxes: Cuts and Income

As this WSJ article suggests, we should focus on total revenue rather than sticking it to the tax payers.
With the House and Senate preparing to vote on extending George W. Bush's investment tax cuts, it's no surprise the cries against "tax giveaways to the rich" grow increasingly shrill. Just yesterday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid charged that the Bush tax plan "offers next to nothing to average Americans while giving away the store to multi-millionaires" and then fumed that it will "do much more for ExxonMobil board members than it will do for ExxonMobil customers."

Oh really. New IRS data released last month tell a very different story: In the aftermath of the Bush investment tax cuts, the federal income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the backs of the wealthy. Between 2002 and 2004, tax payments by those with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of more than $200,000 a year, which is roughly 3% of taxpayers, increased by 19.4% -- more than double the 9.3% increase for all other taxpayers.

Between 2001 and 2004 (the most recent data), the percentage of federal income taxes paid by those with $200,000 incomes and above has risen to 46.6% from 40.5%. In other words, out of every 100 Americans, the wealthiest three are now paying close to the same amount in taxes as the other 97 combined. The richest income group pays a larger share of the tax burden than at anytime in the last 30 years with the exception of the late 1990s -- right before the artificially inflated high tech bubble burst.

Millionaires paid more, too. The tax share paid by Americans with an income above $1 million a year rose to 17.8% in 2003 from 16.9% in 2002, the year before the capital gains and dividend tax cuts.

The most astounding result from the IRS data is the deluge of revenues from the very taxes that were cut in 2003: capital gains and dividends. As shown in the nearby chart, capital gains receipts from 2002-04 have climbed by 79% after the reduction in the tax rate from 20% to 15%. Dividend tax receipts are up 35% from 2002 to 2004, even though the taxable rate fell from 39.6% to 15%. This is as clear evidence of a Laffer Curve effect as one will find: Lower rates produced increased revenues.

What explains this surge in tax revenues, especially at the high end of the income scale? The main factor at play here is the robust economic expansion, which has led to real income gains for most tax filers. Higher incomes mean higher tax payments. Between 2001 and 2004, the percentage of Americans with an income of more than $200,000 rose from 12.0% to 14.2%. The percentage of Americans earning more than $50,000 a year rose from 40.8% to 44.2% -- and that's just in two years. While these statistics are not inflation-adjusted by the IRS, price rises were relatively modest during these years, so adjusting wouldn't alter much.

We can already hear the left objecting that the rich are paying more taxes simply because they have hoarded all the income gains, while the middle class and poor wallow in economic quicksand. But, again, the IRS data tell a more upbeat story of widespread financial gains for American families. The slice of the total income pie captured by the richest 1%, 5% and 10% of Americans is lower today than in the last years of the Clinton administration.

So how can the media contort these statistics to conclude that the Bush tax cuts only benefited the affluent? The New York Times claims that the richest 0.1% got 5,000 times the tax benefit than those with less than $50,000 of income. That figure can only be true if one assumes that there were no economic benefits from the tax cuts whatsoever; and that lower taxes on income, capital gains and dividends resulted in no changes in the real economy -- not the value of stocks, not business spending, not employment, not capital flows into the U.S., not corporate dividend payments, not venture capital funding -- nothing. The underlying assumption of this static analysis is that tax cuts don't work and that incentives don't matter.

Of course, in the real world, financial incentives through tax policy changes matter a great deal in altering economic behavior. And we now have the evidence to confirm that the latest round of tax cuts worked -- five million new jobs, a 25% increase in business spending, 4% real economic growth for three years and a $4 trillion gain in net wealth. So now the very class-warfare groups who, three years ago, swore that the tax cuts would tank the economy rather than revive it, pretend that this robust expansion would have happened without the investment tax cuts. Many Democrats on Capitol Hill recite this fairy tale over and over.

One final footnote to this story: Just last week, the Department of the Treasury released its tax receipt data for March 2006. Tax collections for the past 12 months have exploded by 14.4%. We are now on course for a two-year increase in tax revenues of at least $500 billion, the largest two-year increase in tax revenue collections after adjusting for inflation ever recorded. So why are the leftists complaining so much? George Bush's tax rate cuts have been among the most successful policies to soak the rich in American history.

Mr. Moore is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.