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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Reblogged:Media bias
   during 1968 Tet Offensive,
   and beyond

In the Spring 2005 issue of the Wilson Quarterly, Terry Eastland wrote an obituary for MSM in The Collapse of Big Media: Starting Over. Some responders objected to the examples of bias in MSM over the past 40 years, claiming,

the daily media pounding taken by Clinton, and the fabricated frenzy of the "Dean Scream",


blatant political prejudice masquerading as news by partian outlets such as Fox

proved that mainstream media was not biased.

I took him to task.

Seen on C-SPAN: The Feingold Spin Doc
     remixing that ol' Dem snake oil

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), in a very determined attempt to not appear stumping for the presidency, is riding Bush's coattails while salting them at the same time. Seems the Dems have learned that Bush is on to something.

It is called reality; but I fear they are still on Reality TV.

Gone is the Kerry rhetoric that the fight against terrorism should be a law enforcement issue; gone is the rhetoric that the Iraq War was one of a son's vengeance for his father. Feingold is all for battling terrorism face-to-face.


I don't think Feingold understands what the face looks like.

At a Townhall:Los Angeles (un)stump speech Aug 23, Feingold repeatedly criticized Bush for not engaging the real enemy. He resoundly disputed (trivialized) all rationale for going after Saddam, even alluding to the argument that we are fighting the terrorists on ground of our choosing (Iraq) and not theirs (America) as "the Roach Motel Argument". Feingold was fond of quoting the 9/11 Commission as he charged the President with losing his way in Iraq.

What the good Senator seems to not be hearing is that the blogs have been abuzz for some time about the 9/11 Commission's own failures in their analysis. In fact, the commission has increasing come off as making the same mistakes it accused the intelligence community of making, disregarding intel simply because it didn't fit into their conclusions.

The intel linking Iraqi security agents with al Qaeda by the Czechs has never been properly disputed or debunked, just ignored. Intel linking al Qaeda with Iran's most senior terrorist liaison in the spring of 2001, intel that the "muscle hijackers" were directly provided by Iran, intel that Iran allowed al Qaeda free passage across their borders sans passport stamp; all begs the question of where the Senator thinks we should fight al Qaeda.

It has long been an axiom, both before the current era and now, that international terrorism cannot be international without state sponsorship, globalization not withstanding. Afghanistan is down for the count, Iraq is no longer a secure rear base providing training and medical treatment and sanctuary, Sudan has been exposed.

I don't believe Feingold supports operations against Iran. But the not-so-good Senator has never really geographically identified where the enemy could be found.

The only time he sounded sincere was in response to an almost direct question about his 2008 presidential ambitions. Feingold said he wasn't sure he wanted to play underdog to Senator Clinton.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Real MSM biased reporting:
   sans Conspiracy Theories

I generally have a knee-jerk reaction against anyone who suggests that bias in MSM or Hollywood is depriving people, with a different political viewpoint or worldview, of news and entertainment they want to see. It smacks of paranoia over fascism and secret state police conspiracies.

That smear and taint affects any rational criticism of blatant bias, bias I was taught, as a fledging reporter, to avoid.

So, at the risk of being labeled a right-wing conspiracy nut case, let me highlight articles from three different national newspapers and let you decide. In the long run, the only defense from misrepresentation is to read the same story from several sources.

The articles are all about John Bolton’s first effort as UN Ambassador and amendments to a draft of UN reforms.

NYT paints the US (read, Bush) as a hypocrite (my word),

the United States ... sabotaging the effort to meet demands - many of them originating from Washington - that the institution reform itself to adjust to modern times and make its operations transparent and accountable.

WaPost has articles from two different reports, very different in tenor, proof that it isn’t just the editors. Two by Edith Lederer (here and here) are more or less neutral, the third by Colum Lynch is more like the NYT piece,

Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush Administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement

Finally, a commentary in the WaTimes casts a very different light on the issue and throws some of the innuendos of the NYT and WaPost into a tail spin,

It turns out that, during the months Mr. Bolton was being denied a Senate confirmation vote as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, Kofi Annan's folks and those from other countries who tend to dominate U.N. deliberations (generally, undemocratic and unfriendly sorts) were organizing what might be described as a surprise party for President Bush. The idea was, when he turned up for a special summit meeting from September 14-16, to oblige him to sign on to the most far-reaching -- and outrageous -- U.N. agenda in years. He wouldn't be able to refuse at the last minute, lest he reinforce the rap that he is a "unilateralist cowboy."

I’ve always felt, and practiced, that the best tactic is the one that no one believes you would dare take.

Never let your opponent define the argument.

And now, for something completely different....

Talk about dangerous nutcases....

wikipedia reference

see also Blackfive's Aug 27 reprint of a recent

Saturday, August 27, 2005

NYT:Union saves jobs:
   Automation loses

In the middle of yet another airline strike, one NYT
reporter bravely sacrifices credibility and comes
to the rescue to praise and laud the hard efforts
of people doing boring stupid jobs that machines
could do better and cheaper.

Ten years ago, the new Denver International Airport
marched boldly into the future with a computerized
baggage-handling system that immediately became
famous for its ability to mangle or misplace a good
portion of everything that wandered into its path.

"Automation always looks good on paper,"
said Veronica Stevenson, a lead baggage handler
for United Airlines and president of the union local
that represents United's 1,300 or so baggage
handlers in Denver.

"Sometimes you need real people."

That just burns my craw.

Gerrymandering districts:
   Final Solution

The Washington Post had an article to today
about gerrymandering Ohio districts,

Ohio lawmakers, like those in nearly every state, use
detailed voting information to bunch their supporters
in often oddly shaped districts that promote the
reelection of incumbents and defeat of the other
party's candidates.

A simple geometric solution to gerrymandering
is this, pass a law that restricts district boundary's
to a polygon with no more than 5 points and
no interior angle greater than 180 degrees
(no angle bends back on itself).

The only two problems I could foresee is that
this is both simple and rational.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Case for Choice in Public Education:
   NYT says yes to School Vouchers

The New York Times is shining the high beams on Gifford Miller, a New York City mayoral candidate, as this father of a 4 year old ponders whether to send his son to public or private school. The NYT lambasts the father for even thinking about shunning his local school district, PS 158, which is "one of the best schools in one of the top districts in the city".

Read between the newsprint, people.

The NYT is showing that it really is a bastion of conservative thought. If "one of the best schools" is not even able to compete against available private schooling, then is it not logical to assume that the NYT is saying there is something rotten with even the "best (public) schools"?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Honor our soldiers who stand the line

Please, everyone.

Go to Black Five and leave condolences for Coot at Tuesday's Gone.

   George Washington on Morality and Democracy. Disengaged

Over the past few days, I have been engage in a battle of wits with another guest commentator on one of my favorite blogs, Port McClellan. It is a great exposition of some of my thoughts and beliefs.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been a fair fight....

However, kudos, thanks and much appreciation to Mike McClellan for runnnig such a fine site and tolerating my lengthy commentary.

   Is Hollywood Biased? Dead Letter Bin

Ah, well. I guess I can't expect substance everywhere....

Final comments on Reblogged: Is Hollywood Biased?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

   Is Hollywood Biased? Part Deux

I really get wigged when people go off the deep end without a shred of logic.

Check out the new comments on
Reblogged: Is Hollywood Biased.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"I'm so sorry":
   Bush visits with grieving families

Newsweek article

Hat-tip to Flopping Aces

Must read.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Jamie Gorelick:
  9/11 Commish and co-Architect of the CIA/FBI Wall that lead to 9/11

(UPDATE 8/14 - check out this about Gorelick's Wall and Sandy Berger's theft from the Archives:

Flopping Aces


I know, I know.

Old news.

All this was hashed and rehashed in April 2004. The new twist is the revelations that an Army intel group code named Able Danger had IDed the 9/11 point man, Atta, a year before 9/11 but was not allowed to share that info with the FBI. At first, the Dems started accusing the Bush Administration of not fully disclosing this info to the 9/11 Commission. But it has been acknowledged they had, but “staffers” on the 9/11 Commission had omitted that info from the Commission.

The Dems are still leading the charge to point fingers at the Bush Administration, but going over old Gorelick info on the web, it makes you wonder why the Dems don’t understand why the American public doesn’t trust them any more, as evidenced by the 2000, 2002 and 2004 national elections.

Here is a list of Gorelick links from the first page of a Google search on Gorelick:

(only one even attempts to cast Gorelick in a positive light, and the best that could be presented was it was all Reno - ie, I was just following orders...)







This is a Washington Post article by Gorelick in her defense:


Cindy Sheehan
   and the loss of her soldier son

I served in the US military in the 80s. When the First Gulf War started, my sister, an ardent Democrat who grows more leftist every year, made this comment. "I am glad you are out of that idiocy. If you were still in the military, I'd march on Washington to protest".

After a second or two of thought, I answered simply, "Good thing I am not in the military. I'd have to disown you then".

She was aghast when I told her I had already talked to the local Air Guard recruiter about signing up and getting back into the service.

Mrs. Sheehan has a right to speak her mind. And as sympathetic as I may be for her loss, I can only say it is a pity that her son can't stand up and speak for himself.

I guess we will just have to let his service and loyalty to his country speak for himself.

   Is Hollywood Biased?

(updated with comments 8/16 - proof that extremism exists on both sides)

Duh! But many blogs are gloating over poor financial performance at the Hollywood Box Office and making the claim it is a conservative backlash.

Given that most movie goers are teens and young adults (and that movies are geared to that not-so-mature point of view), I say hoo-ey. The majority of young people are chronically apolitical and make their entertainment purchasing decisions on, dare I say it, entertainment value....

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Real New World Order:
   or how can the UN lose its irrelevant status?

Pakistan just test-fired its first cruise missile. India is not
pleased. But what do the Pakistanis and Indians really want? Realistically? To
rule over the entire subcontinent, from Islamabad to Dhaka? From the
Kashmir to Sri Lanka?

No. It is all about the Kashmir. India has it; Pakistan wants it.

Here's a simplistic solution to an insoluble problem. Since the two
countries can't play nice together in the sandbox, take away the sandbox.

The devil is in the details and the UN can play the devil. Unilaterally
declare the issue to be unresolvable, take possession of the Kashmir,
and run it as a UN Protectorate. In perpetuity. Or until such time the
problem ceases to be a problem.

Bosnia and Kosovo should be used as a model on how to do this, and more
importantly, how not to do it. Here's how it should go.

The UN community declares the Kashmir to be bankrupt in terms of
sovereignty and orders all combatants out of the area. The UN sends in
sufficient troops to permanently occupy and control the region. A
nation-building team is sent in to establish democratic rule compatible with the
local population. If either or both of the contesting nations disputes
this with a show of force, it should be considered a de facto
declaration of war on the world.

If the Pakistanis want to launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles at a UN
Protectorate, then there will be an unambiguous response from the world
community as a whole. If the Kashmirs, who are 70% Muslim, should
decide through proper elections to be annexed by the Pakistanis, the Indians
would be under the same constraints.

Look, the long and short of it all is that when two eight-year old boys
start a fight in the sandbox, the grownups separate them.

Of course, the UN had its opportunity with Iraq and European and
Russian and Chinese parochial interests sabotaged that.

Maybe we should just stick with "US" instead of "UN".

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Welcome Home, Discovery.
   Where's the gold?

This morning NPR broadcast live the chatter from Mission Control as Discovery cruised over the Pacific on its way to Edwards for landing. It has been a long time since NASA got this kind of live publicity. Reminiscent of the total lack of enthusiasm for Apollo 13, until it became a real possibility they weren't coming back.

Ah, the heyday of space travel.

Back when there really was a Space Race, it felt like 1492 all over again. A New Age of Exploration, opening vast uncharted frontiers. The excitement at the port waiting for news was thicker than a London fog.

The climactic moment of Apollo 11 was eclipsed only by the anticlimax of waning public interest and NASA's wild attempts to keep a public interested in *yawn* more moon rocks and international *yawn* cooperation with *yawn* Skylab.

The problem was that while NASA was very good at technomagic, self-absorbed in its engineering utopia, it didn't understand public relations and motivation. "Spinoff" technologies spun right down the ol' PR drain.

What we needed was not a Christopher Kraft* at the helm, but a Christopher Columbus.

Columbus pried loose the financing he needed from Spain's monarchs with promises of wealth and power, coined in spices. He played on their greed and avarice as mercilessly as a top-notch Madison Avenue con man and when he failed to deliver after the first two voyages, he kept interest up with grandiose claims of fabulous gold. Feeding the slave trade didn't hurt either.

But Isabel and Fernando were accountable to no one. Hock the jewels, if necessary. As a democracy, we have a hard time sustaining momentum on intangibles. Bread, butter and guns have a physicality that pipe dreams in space just can't measure up to. Theoretical strategic concerns like the High Ground, the Holy Grail of command and control, are just too esoteric and theoretical for mass consumption. What we need is to bring back some gold.

And gold there is. And just about everything else you can imagine, from rare earth minerals hundreds of times more valuable than gold to more iron and nickel (steel) than we could use in a thousand years. And energy resources the size of planets. Enough to herald the Second Coming and One Thousand Years of Peace and Prosperity for all.

And it is all on a first come, first serve basis.

In the wake of the successful failure of Discovery, the shuttle program has again been grounded. And it may not ever take off again. Rep. Barney Frank, that rapscallion, is trumpeting the same tired old songs and dances that were so effective in shutting down Apollo.

Let's not spend another tens of billions of dollars ... at the expense of health care, social security and numerous other social programs on Earth.

Anyway, NASA is pushing to have a replacement for the shuttle by 2010, and President Bush has previously voiced support for a return to the moon by 2020.

Meanwhile, China is not so quietly planning a round-the-moon jaunt in 2006.

China recognizes the strategic value of the high ground, at least in the context of regaining Taiwan. China cannot risk an amphibious assault across the Straits of Taiwan, 90 miles of open water separating the two Chinas, without dealing with the eyes in the sky and our US Naval carriers out in the deep blue.

It would be a blessed turkey shoot.

But once China gets a toehold in space, once it can blind our surveillance satellites at will and drop missles, rocks, garbage, whatever on our carrier groups from 100 miles straight up, it won’t stop with Taiwan. Why should it?. It is expensive just getting up there and the value of the high ground is immense, much more than control over just the skies and seas of the Straits. Once there, any place on Earth is just a puddle jump. Or as the Swiss were always fond of doing, shoving rocks from the top of the mountains.

And China isn't fettered by public opinion.

Japan woke the sleeping dragon to its peril in 1941; the Soviet Union did the same in 1958 with Sputnik. Let's hope Chinese hubris allows it to make the same mistake; before the door slams shut on us.

*Mr. Kraft did a remarkable job during the Space Race, from 1958 to 1982. The name just flows well with the point I am making. Werner von Braun doesn't. Apologies to Mr. Kraft.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Intelligent Design vs. Evolution

This is in response to a posting on the Port McClellan blog, On Intelligent Design, Aug 3, 2005:

First, to suggest that one scientific theory (the Big Bang) disproves another (Evolution) in some sort of 'gotcha' is ludicrous (I am starting to abuse that word). Claiming that "this implies that someone or something brought the universe into existence." is, well, ludicrous. The Big Bang says nothing of the sort. Our math merely fails when we try to divide by zero and the physics fail because of the extreme quantifications of energy, matter and space.

In the same way, Newtonian physics failed utterly when science tried to explain phenomenon of the late 19th century, only to be epiphanied by Einstein's two theories of relativity.

Besides, the Big Bang theory is in trouble. Recent work in physics suggest that the Big Bang was not a universal moment of creation, with nothing outside of it, but instead perhaps a climatic moment of collision between two three-dimensional membranes in an eleven dimension universe.

What that means is that there was existence, natural existence, before, during and after the 'brane collision. No need to, yet again, resort to supernatural forces to explain.

Second, the 'universe' seems to be "finely tuned" only because we live in it. If it wasn't finely tuned for our existence, we wouldn't be hear to report on it. I believe logicians and philosophers call that a tautology. Or as I like to put it, and your point is...?

The 'brane theory of physics suggests there are other three dimensional membranes, all with their own particular physics and existence. We really need to, as a species, drop this heliocentric or geocentric or solarcentric arrogance of ours. We just are not that special, in the context of the universe as a whole. Again, no need for supernatural or numerological forces to be magically invoked to explain.

Third, I am sure those who created life in spark chambers are flustered and flattered to be called ingenious. The fact is their ingenious devices did produce life in simulated primordial environments (sarcasm definitely intended).

Fourth, yes, genetics is a code of life and it is complex. To assert that life is simply too complex to have just happened, completely and deliberately ignores evolution theory. As the Samuri crab explanation shows, when you throw out the rejects and keep only that one in a million chance, after four billion years, that’s a lot of successful long shots. Again, no need for supernatural explanations. In fact, I wish I had that kind of mechanism as I play the stock market...

Fifth, the embarrassment of the fossil record is an embarrassment only in the minds of evolution-detractors. As I indicated earlier, anti-evolutionists "expect scientific theories to explain everything." The statement that because we haven’t found everything, then we know nothing is, well, ludicrous. New fossils are being dug up all the time. Name one fossil that disproves evolution. Show me da mon'y! That is like saying there is no intelligent life anywhere in the universe because we haven’t found them.

Ok, let's suppose that there is a vast, qualitative difference between micro and macroevolution (the jury is still out on that, even among the scientific community). So, Samuri Crabs and the species of the Galapagos Islands are evidence of microevolution.

What is evolution? Speciation driven by natural selection and genetic mutation.

Microevolution is the occurrence of small-scale changes in gene frequencies in a population over a few generations.

Macroevolution is the concept that evolution of species and higher taxa is the result of large-scale changes in gene-frequencies over time.

Macroevolution seems to be the bone of contention. According to ID, natural selection and genetic mutations aren't sufficiently powerful enough to create sudden shifts in speciation.

Why not? There is ample evidence, for everyone who accepts the Earth existed before 4004 B.C., that there were many massive climatic (read, environmental) changes in the past several hundreds of million years, killing off millions of species. Those that survived needed to change quickly to continue to survive. The theory of punctuated evolution asserts that there are relatively short key sequences in genetics that are critically important. Genetic engineering, for example, is critically dependent upon that being true.

When the environment changes that drastically, the dominant life forms (like the dinosaurs) die out. It has been shown that long standing dominant forms develop a homogenous genetic code to reinforce their advantage. They lose the ability, as a species, to rapidly change when the environment does a hard left. Those species that have been living on the fringe, often in isolation, retain rapid adaptability just to survive. When the environmental conditions change, they move in and the resulting population explosion is, explosive.

So, why haven’t we found the missing link? Maybe there wasn’t one. Maybe we come from a very small group of primates that left little if any fossilized record.

Somebody said it better than me:

The missing link is a popular and not a scientific concept. Scientists studying the fossil record have long known that not every species that lived was 'lucky' enough to leave behind a fossil. More importantly, populations are constantly changing and species are statistical constructs and not ideal-types; therefore, there is not scientific meaning to the notion of a "transitional form."

Having said that, as possible proof, let me refer you to the recent works in mitochondrial genetics that suggest Eve really existed some 100,000-200,000 years ago. We appear to have all come from the same womb. That would certainly suggest a very small isolated population living on the fringes until something happened that gave our genetic code a comparative advantage that even the Chinese today would envy in global economics.