Final Hours of 2003
As I sit here near Washington, DC I contemplate the few remaining hours (90 minutes or so to be nearly exact) of 2003. This has been a contentious year in many ways and I am glad to be leaving quite a bit of it behind. It was the year my father died and that loss is still hurting. More on that issue later.
My 1st prediction for the New Year: I’ll be blogging just after midnight with more predictions! (Yeah, yeah… that was lame. Sue me.)
Large Explosion in Baghdad
A large explosion is reported in Baghdad during New Year’s celebrations in a downtown restaurant. Not much on the story yet but I felt I should pop a link up to it so far. More details as I get them.
Healing Iraq shows some Iraqi poll results
Since you’re never going to hear anything positive about the state of Iraq since Saddam’s ouster from American media sources, I would like to direct your attention to Zeyad and his Healing Iraq blog where he posts some figures from surveys taken there. The results from the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies’ surveys are quite interesting in that they are independently taken from Iraqis by Iraqis.
Of note: 1 in 5 respondants were women. The vast majority of the respondants were literate, educated folks. 2 out of 3 Iraqis reacted to Saddam’s capture with “overwhelming joy”, not the angry spite reported so frequently here.
One thing I found interesting and telling about their attitudes about Israel was noted toward the bottom. While a crushing 79% of those polled considered Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait a crime rather than a justified action, an equally crushing 82% considered his attacking Israel during that action a justifiable action. The Israelis showed great restraint during the 1991 Gulf War when Scuds were coming down on their heads. If anyone was hoping for a quick solution to that issue, keep dreaming.
Cyber Blackmailing Reported
As reported by Reuters, the incidence of “cyber-blackmailing” is going up and the targets aren’t just the upper echelons of the corporate world. Random employees get threatening e-mails demanding a relatively small payment or, the author says, the employee’s computer will get its files wiped. Sometimes the threat goes that the attacker will put pornographic images on the targeted employee’s computer, thereby threatening their jobs. People who don’t know any better actually pay up only to have more e-mails come in later demanding more money.
Information systems are my chosen field, so let me offer some professional advice: don’t pay. Ever. If you get these e-mails at the office or at your University, and most of them are hitting those 2 places, your files are likely backed up by the corporate LAN structure. The attacker still has to get at those files, in any case, and that means they have to penetrate the company’s security systems or introduce a virus. Not impossible, but not trivial anymore, either. As for the pornographic threat…
When you get an e-mail like this, stop what you are doing immediately and notify 1) Human Resources and 2) your IS/IT department. Both of them will likely want you to forward the e-mail to them but do not do so until they ask! The IS/IT department in particular will want to examine the electronic “paper trail” but they may want to start with your e-mail box as it was when you got the mail. If HR knows you got an e-mail like this and somehow porn shows up on your system a couple of days later, they’re not going to show you the door like they would if you hadn’t told them.
No, honest! That 6.5 gigs of porn wasn’t there last Friday! I got this e-mail, see, and they said they’d do this if I didn’t….
HR will be far less likely to buy that one but if they knew about it in advance, that’d be a different story. In the final analysis most of these threats are simply that: threats and bluffs. If you pay this time, they will be back and they’ll want more. Don’t give them the opening they want.
Remember this hue and cry from the Left side of the political aisle? There is no evidence – none! – that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the attacks on 9/11! Our friends in the press and the so-called “Liberal” think tanks were aghast that so many Americans had such a notion and were clearly convinced that anyone who held such a position was a dimwit and shouldn’t be allowed to breed. After all, there was (and remains) no evidence of such a connection and any suspicion that there was is merely a “Conservative” conspiracy to drum up support for the actions in Iraq. Such suspicion was merely wishful thinking and the sign of weak reasoning and mental capacity. If there’s no evidence of it, then believing it anyway is sheer idiocy.
Oh, but about that thing where Saddam Hussein wasn’t really captured as reported, but rather that he’d been in our custody for some time and, only when the President needed a quick hit in the polls, was suddenly “produced”, well that’s almost a certainty. Sure, there’s zero evidence of such a thing, but hey the suspicion is there and that means it’s not only plausible but it’s pretty likely.
Crap. Be paranoid about something like this and then look down their noses at people who think maybe there’s some connection between groups that would love to kill several thousand of us in our sleep? Stuff it. I’ve read all kinds of blogs on the subject and absolutely none of them can offer a single piece of evidence to support such a thing. Innuendo, baseless gossip, general dislike for the administration and wild accusations are all they propose and that doesn’t prove a thing. So I will simply think of them what they’ve thought of others who proceeded to believe other proofless items and call it a day.
What Republicans Believe?
A good friend of mine (who happens to be liberal and a “default Democrat”) sent me an e-mail today titled “Something funny”. It lists several items that you (allegedly) have to believe to be a Republican today. Needless to say it’s not flattering to Republicans as a whole, especially as it reflects only the most ultra-conservative, reactionary viewpoints and some of those listed are wild exaggerations. Is it funny? You bet! If you’re a Republican, you should read this with the sense of humor it’s offered with and don’t take it too personally. The people who wrote it obviously aren’t Republicans. If you’re not a Republican, you’ll find it even easier to find humor here.
However, being a Republican myself, I feel the need to address these points one at a time and tell you what a real, card-carrying member of the GOP thinks as regards these issues. Here we go:
Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:
Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you’re a conservative radio host. Then it’s an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
Ummmm, no. Being an addict isn’t a crime. Buying, selling and/or trafficking in drugs is a crime. Don’t like that? Write your congressman. Don’t expect me to feel bad about thinking that these things are and should be a crime. Is being an addict a moral failing? Personally, I don’t think so. Being an addict is a response to foreign chemical substances flowing through your veins. Becoming an addict at your own discretion could sure be construed as a moral failing, however. After all, you weren’t forced by the drugs to take the drugs the first time so it had to be something else. I don’t buy that people don’t know these things are harmful to their health, not with all the information out there today. So whether it was peer pressure or being bored or whatever, the individual allows themselves to introduce harmful substances into their bodies. They lacked the will to say no. Will power can be equated to “moral fiber” and the lack of the one can be interpreted as a lack of the other. Are there exceptions? Sure. There are exceptions to every rule but you don’t discount the rule because there are exceptions.
As for a certain radio host being a druggie, I think if the rotund offensive one bought, possessed, or sold drugs then he should be doing his little radio show from cell block B of the federal pen. It’s no more an illness than for anyone else and his hipocracy (and that of his supporters) stinks.
The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
First, our intentions in Iraq weren’t to uphold UN resolutions – it was because we (our government) perceived Iraq under Saddam Hussein to be a threat to the United States and her citizens. We tried it the UN way because that’s what everyone screaming that we shouldn’t touch Hussein wanted. We tried it. That august body proved impotently incapable of upholding their own resolutions. Our 2 long-time “allies” not only blocked our every move there, they provided intel and support to Hussein prior to the war. The one, France, came out and explicitly said they’ve veto any move we tried to make in the security council proving themselves completely disinterested in debating the topic. So we are handling things without them. The fact that our action upheld those resolutions against Iraq was coincidental, not causitive.
Should we get out of the UN? I don’t think so. Primarily because there’s no other medium like it to turn to. The UN isn’t very effective and lots of it is broken but it can be fixed. We should not move to isolate ourselves completely from it. Everyone just has to recall that we are as soverign as any other country and if the UN’s policies conflict with ours, we’re going to ignore them.
Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.
A gross simplification. Consider that there’s been an awful lot of regulation placed on a number of industries during this administration and you’ll see they’re not just slashing regs left and right. However, to the point – I do not believe that medical use of marijuana should be considered a crime in any way. It should be treated as any other controlled medicinal substance and provided by prescription. I would like to point out that this does not mean that people should be allowed to toke up a joint while driving around the Capital Beltway. People go to medical centers for their chemotherapy, perhaps they could do this for medical weed as well. Situational, and I think the exact application should be up to doctors, not lawyers. By the same token, people who make use of this should be prevented from harming the rest of us by driving under the influence, handling heavy machinery, loan documents, credit reports and other stuff where impaired awareness would be a problem.
“Standing Tall for America” means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.
Again, wrong. Republicans who think it would be so great to outsource everything overseas are idiots and their political affiliation is beside the point. I’m curious where this one comes from, however, since every single Republican I’ve spoken with is greatly concerned about the practice and would like to find some way to slow that down or stop it entirely.
A woman can’t be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all Mankind without regulation.
Approaching this one in reverse, I can’t say I understand what they’re referencing with the “corporations” comment, so I can’t really speak to the point. I’ve already mentioned that there are several new regs put in place since this administration took office, so “without regulation” is an exaggeration. As to the first part: I’ve said this explicitly before and I say it again here. I am 100% Pro-Choice and always have been. I trust my fellow citizens to follow the edicts of their consciences and that includes the women. I am a member of the Republican Party Coalition for Choice and am making efforts to have the GOP remove completely the “Pro-Life” plank from their platform. I am not alone and my colleagues in the RPCC definitely consider themselves Republican.
Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
No, no, I can’t agree with this one. Jesus does not hate homosexuals.
The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans’ benefits and combat pay.
Clearly not. The hue and cry over the proposed cuts to veterans benefits has been loud and long at my county committee’s meetings. Same with the combat pay. However, has a bill been formally introduced to do either of those things? Anyone?
Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.
We’ve already covered drug use. I have no issues with Group sex excepting the part where I’m not getting any of it.
If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won’t have sex.
Yeah, right. The only Republicans who actually believe this one are a couple of cans shy of a six-pack anyway.
A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
Good try. The belittling came as a result of our long-time allies’ reaction to our fighting terrorism, not as a method of actually fighting it. And we haven’t demanded they do anything or give any money. We’ve asked that they chip in for the rebuilding effort. We’ve asked that they not hold accountable a people who have suffered under the heel of a tyrant for 3 decades for the debt charged up by said tyrant. If they were truly only interested in the good of the Iraqi people, it seems a pretty short leap to get there. Seems they partially agree based on their latest moves.
HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.
See the answer to the condoms in schools question above.
Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
It is socialism. That doesn’t make it a bad idea, necessarily, but it’s not something you can provide in a vacuum. So far the only proposals I’ve seen for paying for such a program has been to tax anyone making over $100K per year at 55% or disbanding the military and selling the Pentagon on eBay. Come up with a proposal that doesn’t treat this like the only thing we’re going to be concerned about and I’ll consider it.
Global warming and tobacco’s link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
The tobacco issue is an extemely old comment. No one is seriously holding to that viewpoint today, not even the tobacco companies. What they’re not doing is openly admitting it since any such admission would make everyone and their brother file a lawsuit with a slam-dunk victory. As a resident of a state that had a long history of tobacco farming, I can also say that there were plenty of southern Democrats scoffing at the notion that smoking causes cancer, too. It was not and is not a uniquely Republican problem. Several of those same Democrats are taking the “global warming is bull” stance, too, when things like the Kyoto Accord are discussed because of the damage it would to do Union workers. Anyone who has given the articles on the subject a serious read knows that the issue isn’t junk.
Should creationism be taught in schools? Sure – as part of a comparative religions course. Basic precepts, creation story, important religious observances and the like could be taught in a class that touches on several of the world’s major religions. The point here, folks, is that you can actually talk about religion without endorsing it. To say that you can’t even mention the word “God” or “Allah” or “Yayweh” without oppressing someone is simply ridiculous. Personally I think the course should be mandatory during high school, perhaps the junior year. If all of us had a bit more understanding of the other religions in the world, we might find we have more in common than not. And while some might fear that having their kids know more about other religions might harm them spiritually, it could just as easily strengthen their moral characters.
Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush’s daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a “we can’t find Bin Laden” diversion.
Saddam was never a good guy. Read the history and you’ll see that. And where did anyone get the idea that “Reagan armed him”? Here’s the facts: the Iraqi army drove Soviet-era T55, T62, T72 and T80 tanks. There’s not 1 American-made tank or vehicle in the bunch. All of it came from the former Soviet Union. The Iraqi airforce flew French Dassault Mirage’s and Soviet Mig’s and Sukhoi’s. The helicopters were Soviet Mil’s and French Allouette’s. None of their aircraft were made by or sold by American companies. The small arms were all French, German, and Soviet makes, not American. Ammunition, too. And their artillery wasn’t of the Howitzer brand, either. So just where did “Reagan” arm him? We provided intel and training, all very true. We provided some of their anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles but no where near the majority. If anyone “armed” Saddam, then the title goes to Europe, not America.
The reason Saddam was even noticed by Reagan and America as a whole was because he was the sworn enemy of what was largely considered to be the real threat in the region: Iran. No one else had the position and the staying power to hold up against them so we did what countries have done since the concept of statemanship was formed, we backed someone who could. You may not like it but that’s how it works. As happens in the world, he who was once considered an ally turned on us and stepped over a line we couldn’t tolerate intrusion upon. Saddam invaded Kuwait. Our obligations to our ally Kuwait demanded that we respond and we gathered together a coalition of forces who were of the same mind. The mission was to remove Saddam’s forces from Kuwait and we were successful. So he was the bad guy when former President Bush and the other members of the Coalition made war on him. To say that it was a case of “Bush’s daddy” making war is revisionist history and we sure wouldn’t want non-Republicans doing that, now would we?
So companies Cheney was involved with did business with Saddam. (No, I don’t have the details as I write this so I don’t even know that it’s true. I’m willing to go with it anyway.) Pertinent question: so what? If Saddam was the nice guy foreign sovereign leader that the implication alleges, then there shouldn’t be any problem doing business with him, now should there? If he wasn’t, then still I ask, So what? If someone has evidence that any of that business was in violation of US law, then speak up. Do I approve? Hell, no. I’d have loved to have seen Saddam get no business from anyone, but we all know who would have suffered the most in that case. The Iraqi people already suffered with what trade restrictions existed and we are all now well aware of what happened the UN’s vaunted oil-for-food program. But just because I find something personally repugnant doesn’t make it illegal. Until someone comes up with what Cheney (and more specifically the companies working with him) did that was illegal, then Saddam’s status of good guy/bad guy is a non-issue.
I’ve already touched on why we attacked Iraq. Needing a diversion from bin Laden and Al Qaeda wasn’t one of the reasons and I have seen nothing to suggest seriously that it was.
A president lying about an extramarital affair is an Impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
We can see written, documented proof that Bill Clinton lied (definition: knowingly telling an untruth) to a Grand Jury. His intention in telling that lie was obvious. He knew that what he was saying wasn’t true, beyond a shadow of a doubt. No one seriously believes he didn’t lie because even he says he did. Note that the content of the lie isn’t my issue here and, according to the law, is immaterial. That fact that he lied to a grand jury is the key. That’s illegal – black letter law illegal. Committing that crime is an impeachable offense, regardless of whether it was for an extramarital affair or over the color of someone’s car. Now, pay attention here because this is the part the “Republican belief” above wants to slip past you.
Provide confirmable proof that George W. Bush has lied about anything. Oh, sure, he might – maybe – have repeated things given to him by intel sources that those sources knew weren’t true. That’s not a lie. You have to know what you’re saying isn’t true to be lying. The immediate retort to that is usually “well, he should have known.” That’s an opinion, but even if I concede that point, it’s still not lying. With that concession, the best you’ve got is negligence and that’s not an impeachable offense. And no, I’m not conceding that point, in any case. I’m still not sorry Saddam Hussein’s been removed from power, especially with the hundreds of thousands that died under his regime and anyone who is is just on the wrong side of the fence.
Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
The Constitution names neither of those things, as anyone even remotely familiar with the document will know. The powers named in the Constitution, however, specifically ban the use of race, religion, sex, politics, etc, etc, etc to discriminate against people in the use of publicly-funded facilities, but that sure doesn’t stop Congress from allowing publicly-funded colleges from discriminating against white students. I don’t hear the non-Republican crowd screaming too loudly about that, now do I? So if it’s good enough to allow Congress to do that, quit whining about other people wanting Congress to allow or disallow things they prefer to see or not see happen.
Gay marriage: I believe that adults in this country should be allowed to marry whomever they fall in love with, gender be damned. So there. Here’s a Republican who doesn’t buy that particular shtick and you’re going to find lots more just like me. They should be allowed all the privileges and be subject to all the responsibilities that I am as a married hetero. Just don’t get in my face about it and we’ll be fine. Have your wedding like anyone else – don’t make a political statement out of it.
Anyone who thinks a construct like the Internet can be censored clearly does not understand how it’s built. There’s plenty of people on both sides of the aisle on that one. I want Republicans who think it’s a good idea to lay off people who want to read things they want to. I want Democrats who only want conservative sites and sites with so-called “hate-speech” nuked from the Net to learn the true meaning of Freedom of Speech and likewise lay off. Both of ya learn more about how the Net works so you quit making fools of yourselves.
The public has a right to know about Hillary’s cattle trades, but George Bush’s driving record is none of our business.
Did Hillary’s cattle trades break the law? If so, they deserve to know about it just like any other public record of a crime. I keep hearing about Bush’s driving record. I’m in a connection-less house over the holidays so I can’t go searching for it but I’m going to take that up when I get home and see if I can find them. If I can, I’ll be e-mailing that to as many of those folks as I can who have brought this up as proof of a conspiracy.
You support states’ rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.
Ashcroft’s an idiot and an asshat and should be forced out of office as quickly as possible. Happy?
What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the ’80s is irrelevant.
I honestly have no idea what this one’s talking about so it’s hard to respond.
Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
I’ve never bought the trade blockade on Cuba, especially after all this time. Clearly, the sanctions aren’t producing the effect that was wanted when they were enacted. I have a better idea. Open up the trade big-time. Get all of our electonics and medicines and cars and everything else in there as fast as we can. A few Britney Spears concerts and some people who can read up on news while listening to MP3′s as their microwave pizza nukes and I think we’ll see some serious change over there. And if we don’t, so what? Is Cuba really that big of a deal any more?
So this little “you have to believe” list is either exaggerated beyond recognition or simply wrong. But coming up with straw man arguments sure beats having to come up with rational, defensible positions of your own, so I am looking forward to seeing lots more of these as this next year progresses.
Happy Holidays to you all.
Two for Two
The jury has convicted DC sniper Malvo of all 3 counts against him making him eligible for the death penalty. Good. Now so long as we get the jury to make the recommendation. Malvo and fellow sniper John Mohammad went on a terror spree a year ago shooting 13 people and killing 10. These two felt no more compunction in killing these people than they would have plinking a couple of tin cans. They should reap the consequences of their actions and the rest of us should be made completely safe against any chance either of these 2 might do it again.
This cowardly snake’s only insanity (the “defense” his lawyers put forth) was in thinking any of us would believe he wasn’t in full control of his actions when he did his killing. Justice has prevailed here today.
100 Years in Flight
100 years ago today, Wilbur and Orville Wright managed what many said would never be accomplished: they flew a heavier-than-air vehicle in sustained, controlled flight. The flights weren’t very long but they gave proof that it could, in fact, be done. The feat is often cited as evidence that anything is possible. So today, in memory of those boys from the bike shop, I tip my cyber-hat and say “Congrats!”
Fitting also that this week they opened the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. The Center is the long-awaited annex for the National Air & Space Museum and contains a huge number of aircraft and spacecraft. The space shuttle Enterprise is there along with the B-29 Enola Gay, the only known remaining WWII German jet bomber the Arado AR 234 “Blitz”, a WWI bomber known as the “Cauldron G.4“, and the SR-71 Blackbird.
Orson Scott Card on the War on Terror, Patriotism, and the state of Politics in general.
As a writer, you’d expect Orson Scott Card to be well-spoken on issues he chooses to write about. His opinion in the Wall Street Journal is no exception and has good material for anyone’s thought processes, regardless of your stand on the issues. It’s a good read.
Again the News Media does it
In yet another example of the biased reporting going on these days, this report was filed detailing how a “Pro-Saddam rally” turned violent. 750 Iraqi’s in Ramadi turned out to support the captured
rat bastard former President and – wonder of wonders – clashed with US Troops and Iraqi Police. Again, I ask, why the immediate reporting of such a relatively small demonstration and complete silence when well over 10 times that many marched in opposition to this man, his friends, and what they represent? And again the prime difference between the 2 stories is that 1 is negative to the Coalition and the other was not. The negative one gets shoved into the faces of the American people while the other gets quietly ignored. Anything to make our efforts over there look like the wrong move and those who have ordered it look like idiots. I’m convinced.