By now I’m sure that most of the blogosphere is aware of Ward Churchill and his bile about the victims of 9/11 being just like “little Eichmanns.” (Again with the Nazi references, notice. I notice that the less substance the argument has, the more the author tends to rely on emotively-charged language and ad hominem attacks.) For a guy who’s part of a group that gets so censored, suppressed and oppressed, he certainly has no issue being heard. I and others in the right half of the political spectrum have wondered to each other how a conservative academic would fare in such a circumstance, assuming such an animal could be found.
Well, thanks to John Moser at No Left Turns, we need wonder no more.
|::::::::||Back in 1997 Luis Chavez, a history professor at Pikes Peak Community College, satirized th[e] proliferation of ethnic studies programs by submitting a mock proposal for a “Gringo American Studies” program. He was suspended.
But wait, there’s more! Chavez appealed the decision, and it was overturned, but when his department chair, Katherine Sturdevant, testified on his behalf at the appeals hearing, “the administration stripped her of her chairmanship of the history department, took away her office on the college’s new campus, reassigned her to the older campus, removed her from various college committees, denied her merit raises, and gave her a negative evaluation after twelve years of positive performance reviews.”
After 4 years pursuing a lawsuit over her treatment in this case, Sturdevant won reinstatement to her job, $75,000 in damages, and a raise. She remains at Pikes Peak today. I compare the treatment here with outrage the left is exhibiting over the fact that people object to Churchill’s characterization of the 9/11 victims and I see a double-standard they wouldn’t tolerate in reverse.
The internet surveillance software known as “Carnivore” has been shut down. The move by the FBI to turn off the controversial software has an interesting motivation: according to the story, they can get just as good from stuff you can buy over the counter.
|::::::::||The FBI has effectively abandoned its custom-built Internet surveillance technology, once known as Carnivore (search), designed to read e-mails and other online communications among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies, according to bureau oversight reports submitted to Congress.
Instead, the FBI (search) said it has switched to unspecified commercial software to eavesdrop on computer traffic during such investigations and has increasingly asked Internet providers to conduct wiretaps on targeted customers on the government’s behalf, reimbursing companies for their costs.
Civil rights activists have been up in arms about Carnivore since its existence had been confirmed and it has been the punch line for many a geek joke out there. But what does it say that there are commercial firms producing software with capabilities of a type and strength that the Bureau would consider dropping Carnivore and using “brand x” instead? Markets for products don’t generally form for a single customer and there sure aren’t multiple commercial vendors that produce different tools doing the same job for that single customer when only one is going to get bought. So who else is buying that software and where would they possibly use it?
As I said: interesting.
SAIC is a huge government contractor out here and is involved in some of the more sensitive areas of classified information. They recently reported that a break-in had occured in one of their San Diego offices where thieves made off with computer equipment housing the personal data of some or all of the 45,000 member workforce even obliquely managed by that office. That list contains a huge number of people with government clearances at all levels of classification and those people have been advised that they need to “take precautions” as a result of the theft.
|::::::::|| Some of the nation’s most influential former military and intelligence officials have been informed in recent days that they are at risk of identity theft after a break-in at a major government contractor netted computers containing the Social Security numbers and other personal information about tens of thousands of past and present company employees.
The contractor, employee-owned Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, handles sensitive government contracts, including many in information security. It has a reputation for hiring Washington’s most powerful figures when they leave the government, and its payroll has been studded with former secretaries of defense, CIA directors and White House counterterrorism advisers.
Well, that’s just great. A firm that claims such expertise in security should never have allowed this data to be housed anywhere near an “administration” building that didn’t have full classified-level security measures in place. SAIC’s spokeman, Ben Haddad, said:
|::::::::||“We’re taking this extremely seriously,” Haddad said. “It’s certainly not something that would reflect well on any company, let alone a company that’s involved in information security. But what can I say? We’re doing everything we can to get to the bottom of it.”||::::::::|
He also said they weren’t sure if the thieves specifically targeted those computers – which would indicate the data was the real goal – or if they just snagged something to sell for quick cash. Immaterial. Even if it’s the latter, just who do you think they’re going to sell the gear to? Some all-night pawn shop? Whoever buys that equipment is going to damn sure be able to see what’s on it. San Diego PD flatly says there are no leads in the case.
Oh, and did I mention that the database all this stuff is in is a collection of information about past and present stock shareholders? SAIC is employee-owned, so every employee’s data is in there. Of course, there’s plenty of data in there from non-employees who just so happened to have had stock in the company. Nice return on the investment, eh? In case you’re thinking the name SAIC is familiar, you’ve seen it in the news lately. Their San Antonio division is under investigation for allegedly padding cost estimates on an Air Force contract. More recently, they’re the company that has been responsible for creating the FBI’s Virtual Case File that has been rather widely denounced as a $170 million failure.
SAIC’s head doesn’t appear to be in “the game” of security lately, and that’s a serious matter for concern.
The counting is done and we’ve got the results:
|::::::::||The list of candidates representing Iraq’s majority Shiite Muslims (search) won the most votes in the nation’s Jan. 30 election, followed by the Kurds and then Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s (search) list, Iraqi election officials said Sunday.
The Shiite-dominated ticket received 4.075 million votes. A Kurdish alliance was second with 2.175 million votes and Allawi’s list was third with about 1.168 million.
Of Iraq’s 14 million eligible voters, 8,456,266 cast ballots, the commission said. That represents a turnout of about 60 percent.
Assuming that the number of eligible voters is exactly 14 million (unlikely, but that’s what I’ve got to work with) then the turnout was 60.4%. Our was reported at 60.7% and we generally didn’t have the interesting diversion of death threats issued to us all if we went to the polls. As has been stated often, this was a wonderous day for the Iraqis and I’m extremely happy to have been witness to it. As to the Iraqi results, well that’s pretty interesting, too. Rendered into percentages, the 3 top parties came in like this: The Shiite ticket, for whom I cannot seem to locate a name, took 48.2%, the Kurdish Alliance took 25.7%, and Allawi’s ticket got 13.8%. First, take note that the party containing interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi came in third. A distant third. In spite of all the prognostications over the past 8 months about how it was obvious that Allawi’s party would take the lead since he was backed by the US, the Iraqis had their own ideas and were pretty loud about speaking their minds. Good for them.
Second, and most importantly, note that even the top winner in this election didn’t get the 60% of the National Assembly seats necessary for them to dictate terms. They need 12% more of the vote and that means they need to form, (drumroll, please), a coalition within the Assembly. Coalitions mean compromise, and that’s going to mean nobody’s going to just get everything they want. It does mean, however, that most of Iraq should get what they need. That they’ve had a hand in the formation of their government has been a great first step.
Update: The guys over at Iraq the Model have their take on the results and, finally, a name for the “Shiite Ticket” referred to in all the news reports. They call themselves the “United Coalition.”
US News columnist Michael Barone highlights the differences between the left and the right sides of the blogosphere. I think he hits it pretty good:
|::::::::||The Democratic Internet constituency was and is motivated by one thing more than anything else: hatred of George W. Bush. To see that you only have to take a look at dailykos.com, run by Democratic consultant Markos Moulitsas, which gets 400,000 page views a day–far more than any other political weblog–and which received funding from the Dean campaign (which Moulitsas disclosed). It seethes with hatred of Bush, constantly attacks Republicans, and excoriates Democrats who don’t oppose Bush root and branch. When four American contractors were killed in Iraq in April 2004, dailykos.com wrote, “I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.” This repulsive comment produced no drop-off in page views. This was what the left blogosphere wanted. Kos was an early enthusiast for Dean’s campaign for Democratic chairman and disparaged other candidates.
But the right blogosphere was different from the left. There was no one dominant website and no one orthodoxy. Glenn Reynolds, the University of Tennessee law professor whose instapundit.com gets 200,000 page hits a day, supports Bush on Iraq but disagrees with him on abortion, stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage. The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats but what these bloggers call Mainstream Media, or MSM. They argue, correctly in my view, that the New York Times, CBS News, and others distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004.
So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans’ adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans.
I’m definitely of the “Instapundit” persuasion in terms of my politics and therein lies the primary difference as I see it. The left side of the sphere, with very few exceptions, has little to say except offering up “anything but Bush” commentary, sprinkled with references to Nazism as often as possible. My colleagues on the center-right have no such vision of the left as evil, merely as wrong on certain points. I personally agree with the left on a number of issues, but actual discussion seems to be nearly impossible the second most of them learn I’m a Republican. One hopes that will change in the next couple of years.
Hat tip: Power Line