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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Not Just Another Number


more to come


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Test Nonlethal Weapons On U.S. Citizens, Official Says"

So goes the headline from this Houston Chronicle story by Lolita C. Baldor of the AP. It's actually, I don't think anyway, that it's as bad as the headline makes it seem. But it's still...um...interesting, to say the least.

Here's an excerpt, the first three paragraphs actually.

WASHINGTON - Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, said Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne.



What President Bush Should've Said

I was reading Time this morning, and near the front of the September 11, 2006 edition of the mag is a piece by Joe Klein with the same title as this post. Klein wrote the article in response to President George W. Bush’s August 31 speech to the American Legion Convention.

If you’re not familiar with Bush’s words, you can find a transcript of the speech here.

Though I wouldn’t say I’m behind everything that Klein had to say, I thought it was a good piece and that it beared reprinting.

Klein wrote what he thought Bush should have said instead of the speech he actually gave. His column is below:

By Joe Klein

My fellow members of the American Legion, I have made some serious mistakes and miscalculations in our struggle against Islamic extremism over the past five years. Some of these were made out of anger and impatience in the months after we were so viciously attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Others were made out of my heartfelt belief that our American values—freedom, democracy, market economics—are the surest path away from the fury and despair that have plagued the nations at the heart of the Islamic world. I still believe deeply in those values.
I am still convinced that we are facing a long-term campaign against Islamic extremists who have the means to bring unimaginable horrors to our streets. But events in Lebanon and Iraq this summer have convinced me that our Freedom Agenda must be modified.
I was going to deliver a speech today in which I said, "The war we fight today is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century." But then I thought about a conversation I had recently with a young U.S. military officer, a combat veteran of the Iraq war who remains on active duty, committed to our mission. "Mr. President," he said. "If this struggle is so important, why is this the only war in American history where we haven't increased the size of the Army and raised taxes to pay for it? Why haven't you mobilized the nation?"
In the speech I planned to deliver, I would have spoken—too easily, too dismissively—about how previous Presidents pursued a mistaken policy of seeking "stability" in the Middle East, which resulted in the terrorist attacks against us. I would have implied that my aggressive promotion of democracy was the only alternative to the failed policies of the past. But that would have posed a false choice. Stability is, after all, our goal for the region. And we have learned, sadly, in recent years that the mere act of holding an election does not create a democracy. Indeed, in many countries of the region—in the Palestinian territories, Iran and, yes, Iraq—elections have brought the forces of instability to power.
Which brings me to Iraq. I want to tell you something I've never acknowledged: the U.N. inspection regime that was forced on Saddam Hussein in 2002 was working. We should have had more patience with it and supported it more fully. In the end, it would have revealed what we now know: that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. That revelation would have destroyed the dictator's credibility. His brutal regime might have toppled from within. At the very least, his power would have been severely compromised. But—impatient again—we rushed to war, without sufficient preparation and sufficient allies. Today we face a very difficult situation in Iraq. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is riddled with Islamic radicals. This week elements of the Iraqi army were attacked and defeated in Diwaniyah by a sectarian militia led by the radical Shi'ite Muqtada al-Sadr. This is the same al-Sadr who attacked U.S. forces in 2004, the same al-Sadr who controls 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament—and who is the linchpin of al-Maliki's governing coalition. I say this to Prime Minister al-Maliki: The U.S. cannot support a government that includes Muqtada al-Sadr. You must build a new coalition, one that includes the secular political parties and Sunnis and guarantees the Sunni minority the rights and the share of Iraqi oil revenues it deserves. We have not sacrificed 2,600 Americans to create a radical Shi'ite government in Iraq.
One of the many books I've read this summer was Fiasco, by Tom Ricks of the Washington Post. It is a careful summation of the military mistakes we've made in Iraq. It ends with a series of scenarios for what might happen if we withdraw now. All have terrible implications for the region and the world. So we must stay in Iraq, but we must stay smarter. To that end, I announce the following initiatives. I call on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to meet with me one on one to discuss the stabilization of Iraq. In time I hope we can also discuss other issues, like his government's nuclear program and support for Hizballah, and the resumption of normal diplomatic relations between our countries. But, President Ahmadinejad, as a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, you must appreciate the disastrous potential of the chaos on your western border. Surely you don't want to risk the possibility of a regional Sunni reaction that would bring fire to your oil fields and death, once again, to the streets of Tehran.
Here at home, I call on Democrats to join with me in building an alternative energy strategy to limit our dependence on foreign oil. Everything is on the table, including a tax on carbon-based fuels. Finally, to achieve stability in Baghdad during the creation of the new governing coalition, I am temporarily sending two divisions—30,000 more troops—to pacify that troubled city. If a stable, moderate, inclusive Iraqi government is not created, we may be forced to reassess our military posture in the region. These initiatives may not succeed. But the time for fancy words and grand theories about changing the world has passed. We need to take action now


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Breaking News: Attack On US Embassy In Damascus, Syria

About two and a half hours ago, gunmen opened fire on Syrian guards near the US Embassy in Damscus, Syria's capital city. There were also two suicide car bomb attempts. Firsthand accounts are sketchy at the moment, but it seems that one car did explode, and the other did not. Personell are presently trying disarm the explosives in the second car.

Several, if not all, of the attackers were killed, as were a small number of Syrian gaurds. No Americans were killed, and little or no damage was done to the embassy.

Here is a link to the most up-to-date reporting at this time.

This is a link to a constantly updated list of reports of the event on GoogleNews.

The Day That Changed America Forever
Or Did It?

I know you all remember where you were That Morning when It happened. I was asleep when the first plane hit. My mother called me shortly before the second plane hit and told me to turn on the news and see what was happening. I, like millions of others, watched the second plane hit the South Tower. In the following days, weeks, and months, everyone from politicians to members of the media to pop stars told us that America had changed. America had changed, and life in America had changed. There was no turning back. This had been forced upon us. And things would never be the same again.

Fast-forward five years.

I still sleep in the same bed in which I woke up to the horror of people jumping from The Towers. I work in the family business much the same as before, though now we have a larger work load and more contracts. All my friends are pretty much either doing the same thing they were doing Then, or they are doing now what they had planned on doing five years after The Event.

The truth is, no, nothing has really changed. Yes, we’re in wars. Yes, gas prices are higher. But those are tangential changes. The core of America, of its people, and of its government basically operates the same now as then. We, for the most part, have the same values, the same desires, the same needs, the same pastimes. Simply put, it is not the “Different World” that we were told we would live in.

I don’t live in fear of terrorists, nor does anyone I know. Terrorism is way down our lists of concerns. We may be worried about our friends, brothers, sisters, fathers, daughters, mothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles getting shot at in the desert, the high plains, and the mountains, but we are not worried of being suicide-bombed on the way to Wal-Mart.

Frankly, I really don’t know whether this is good or bad that we’ve not taken up the yoke that had been so self-assuredly prophesied. I leave that question to you, my friends.

Also, if you feel that I’m wrong here, if you feel that America and/or the world has changed, I’d love to hear your opinion.

May God be with the familes of all those who lost their lives or their health five years ago. And may God be with our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who are living in danger everyday. And may they soon be brought home safely. Amen

Thank you for your time.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Steve, You Will Be Missed

I must admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Steve Irwin’s TV antics. At first, years ago when he first appeared on our airwaves, I did enjoy. But after a while, he kind of got annoying.

But his television work was, by far, not his only work. Nor was it his most important work. Mr. Irwin was a diehard conservationist. He cared about animals, cared about taking care of them, cared about making sure they had a habitat, cared about removing them from endangering humans or humans endangering them. And he didn’t do this in some New Age, crystal-collecting, PETA type fashion. He was simply a classic conservationist, no more, and definitely no less. That was his greatest work, caring for nature and sharing his love for the flora and fauna of our planet with basically the entire world. That will be his legacy, I believe, not going “Crickey, she’s an huge buggah!”

His beliefs, his actions, his passions are all things to which, as a southern boy, I can relate. Regardless of the stereotypes put upon us, most of us rednecks are staunch conservationists. No, we don’t work for PETA or GreenPeace, and yes, we eat meat. But we were also taught that we do not own this planet, this land, these animals. We are but tenants who must keep watch over, and take care of, this fragile planet and its varied species.

Those are the things I believe in, and those are the things Mr. Irwin believed in. That is why I respect him, and not because he became a multi-million dollar brand.

Mr. Irwin died on September 4, 2006 after a stingray barb punctured his chest cavity and went into his heart (as an aside, the video footage of the attack, which is most likely to be destroyed, also shows Mr. Irwin personally pulling the barb out of his chest and heart.)

Rest in peace, Mr. Irwin. You will be missed.

Steve Irwin
February 22, 1962 - September 4, 2006


To Whom It May Concern

Please shut your frickin pie whole about idiot Tom Cruise and his idiot little wife and his little baby bastard child. I don't care. I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.I don't care.

It is not news, not even close. So please, do us all a favor and SHUT UP.


The World Series?

Ok, before I get to my point, I want to be upfront here. I don’t enjoy baseball, and I make no bones about it. I respect the talent, athleticism, and skill involved. But I find watching baseball to be mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly boring.

So, the World Series. I guess I have an outdated globe, but on it the world appears to consist of more than the USA and Canada. Maybe they could just call it “The Great North American Series” or something like that. Are we as a country so egocentric that we really think all the baseball teams in the world exist only in America and Canada?

Just a thought.

Shocking New Scientific Study Finds...

...that celebrities are more narcissistic than the average person.

Amazing, I never would've figured that out by myself. I wonder how many millions of dollars were spent working on this "study". Brilliant, those science guys.


Apparently It Isn’t Only Muslims That Get Kicked Off Of Airline Flights

An Orhodox Jewish man was kicked off of an Air Canada Flight last week. Why? Well, because he was praying of course. Doesn’t that make perfect sense to you? No?

Me neither.

Here's a link to the story.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Anniversary Everybody!

One year ago, ok, and a couple days, we were all sitting around picking up houses and sleeping with the bugs. You know, if the night temps had been thenwhat they’ve been recently, it would’ve have been half as bad. Well, at least not for the people in this house which, thank God, is still in perfect condition.

For those thousands and thousands of you who had worse luck, I wish you peace, happiness, and the ability find your home again. God bless you all.

And to those of you who didn't make it through the storm, peace be with you.



Friday, September 01, 2006

I Have Just One Word For You


Yes, I stole it from the Repor(t). I couldn't help it. It's a great word.


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