Thursday, June 29, 2006

An intriguing possibility

As I don't already have enough to do at work, I was reading Captain Ed's take on today's Supreme Court ruling in the Hamdan case. In short the Justices ruled 5-3 (Roberts recused himself) that military tribunals for terrorists would be illegal under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

Here's Cap'n Ed:
I haven't read the decision, but the reliance on the Geneva Convention seems strange. The convention binds nations when dealing with other signatories, not with those who have not agreed to reciprocity. The terrorists we have captured do not wear uniforms to distinguish themselves from civilians; in fact, they take great pains to hide themselves among civilians, deliberately target civilians, and use civilians as human shields. Applying Geneva Convention protections to these terrorists undermines the primary reason for these conventions: protection of civilians. They now will pay no penalty for their disregard for the rules of war, thanks to SCOTUS.


Ed concludes: "Congress needs to correct this issue immedately. The mischief that this enables will not only hamstring this war on terror, but any future war we may be forced to wage."

What would make for both high drama, and for great courage would be for the US governement to proceed with tribunals anyway. If we read the Geneva Convention thoroughly, then we have to conclude that there is no allowance for non-signatories who prey on civilians to be accorded protections under the Convention. Therefore, one must logically conclude, that in spite of the Court's decision, military tribunals are the only real option.

If Bush ordered military tribunals, the Left would howl and call for impeachment, but the Right and most moderates who favor a vigorous prosecution of the global war on terror (or radical Islam as were over Epinionated types like to say) would probably see the President as being correct with his interpretation. Would the House impeach? Not likely.

This could turn into a big, big winner for the Republicans, even though the decision went against them.

Ellison to Harvard: Drop Dead

News spread quickly of Larry Ellison's decision to not give Harvard a $115 million gift. If Mr. Ellison is interested, he could really put that money to good use. New college graduates emerge from the hallowed halls of academia every year with enormous loan burdens. What would it mean to those folks, or their parents to have a ten-thousand dollar gift to pay some of those loans. Mr. Ellison's un-pledged gift to Harvard would be $10,000 worth of help for 11,500 people. Now that might not seem like many people, but that's not the point.

The point is, small donations that mean more to individuals are unnoticed compared to massive donations, to behemoth institutions. Harvard's endowment is something like $26 billion (that's with a b). It's not chump change, but the profs at Harvard aint gonna go hungry because Mr. Ellison changed his mind.

But a ten-thousand dollar gift either to get one's education started, or to reward a student who graduates with a 3.0 GPA or who has made an appearance on the dean's list each and every semester, would reward excellence, encourage more diligent work and mean something to the recipient. In addition, the person who has earned this gift, no matter how comfortably well off they are as an individual would feel a tremendous pinch if the gift were revoked. Unlike Harvard.

This speaks to the liberal ethos. Rather than taking the time to individually help someone through personal efforts that actually reach people, liberals prefer that our money be taxed, given to the government so that they can divvy the money up best. We both want the same thing, for people can get the help that they need when they need it. But what means more to an individual, a personal gift that comes from a caring individual, or a government subsidy? And which of these is going to encourage a person to use the assistance to make sure they never need it again? Or work hard enough so that they can, inspired by the generosity shown to them, pass along that generosity to someone else? Isn't that really what community is about?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

NHS - Nanny High School

The dreaded words for students. You've got detention . Isn't there some voice that says to board members that the school does not have jurisdiction over students? Apparently not.

A school district in Illinois said that kids who post images of themselves engaged in lewd, inappropriate or illegal behavior - even off school grounds - are subject to disciplinary action. School officials say they are not trying to censor students but to protect them.


That's right, kids. Mom and Dad can punish you all they want, but they can't protect you like your friendly neighborhood school district. Consider the illogic of this. Michelle Vented about the unbalanced nature of some educators, and she didn't even touch on the teachers who are too busy sleeping with their students to bother with teaching their charges.

Like most ridiculous things out there, this probably had its roots in some well-intentioned idea that there are child predators out using the Internet and when young high school (and middle school) boys and girls get whacky and post pictures of themselves behaving lewdly, it is advertising to child predators. But as Augustine said,t eh road to hell is paved with good intentions. The responsibility to teach kids not to advertise their sexuality is the parents. When our society sends them mixed messages about appropriate sexual behavior, it really falls on parents to sort it all out. Not schools. Not the government. Parents.


HT: Glenn

An argument for Congressional Term Limits

Ed Morrissey deserves the accolades he gets. Today he chimes in with a piece on the recent moral failings of Congress Critters of all stripes. But the key to what Ed has to say involves the failings of leadership on the right.

Congress already has enough problems with corruption and scandal without adding even more arrogance to top it. If the leadership wants to argue that their status as elected officials somehow gives them the ability to disregard subpoenas and court orders, then the American people may want to trade that leadership to ensure that Congress understands that it operates under the same laws as the rest of us. Hastert and Boehner do not argue against an imperial presidency, but rather they are arguing for an untouchable political elite, where our elected officials risk nothing by taking bribes and selling their votes to the highest bidder. After all, the evidence of those transactions will almost always reside in their offices -- and if they can ignore duly executed subpoenas and search warrants, then they can sell themselves at will.

and
In the strict constructionist view that the GOP supports, this should mean what it says: members cannot be arrested while in attendance of a session or while traveling to or from said session. They also cannot be prosecuted for their speech while in session. That's it. It's a very narrow immunity, and it has to be in order to preserve public accountability for elected officials.

I find it troubling and not just a little hypocritical that Hastert and Boehner now want to use a "living Constitution" model in order to defy valid court orders.


Imagine that, Congressional hypocrisy! Whodathunkit?

The Blogfather adds this nugget: if Hastert thinks the Democrats may take the House in November, this may be exactly the kind of precedent he wants to establish

Glenn's sarcasm is to be noted with a grain or two of salt, however, the broader point is that the spirit of Congressional license is infectious. Between the scandals on both sides of the aisle, I think we can reasonably conclude that the next swamp we might want to drain is in Washington.

UPDATE: Bryan over at Hot Air adds his thoughts on Speaker Hastert's remarkably obtuse interpretation of the Constitution.

The House, led by Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, has gone ballistic. Hastert’s screaming about Constitutional separation of powers (the FBI is under the executive branch), and even demanding that it return whatever it took from Jefferson’s office. The Democrats are right there with him, in a rare and ill-advised show of unity.
Link again in original

Ill-advised might be a little understated. What is necessary is for some of us int he blogosphere to get both pissed off and curious about this story.

UPDATE II: Over in the Corner Mark Kirkorian offers a weak defense of Hastert.
The Speaker of the House may well have committed a ridiculous mistake in giving cover to a criminal from the other team, but this kind of invective is out of place. Hastert sure seems to be an ineffective leader (a la Bill Frist, a great American who should stick to what he knows how to do, and get out of the Senate as soon as possible), but neither of them is an idiot.


By nature if one makes ridiculous mistakes, does that not qualify them to receive a modicum of invective? Hastert has erred. I may not call him an idiot, but he has earned a lot of criticism.

More on Google

Dan Riehl is spouting common sense today echoing my point. Why Google Will Eventually Stumble is the beginning note in what will prove to be a thundering creschendo. This point is the key:


I also wrote that if they were smart they would understand that in order for their newer products to take hold, they needed early adopters - precisely the kind of people they are consistently ticking off due to little if any real customer service.

Link in Original

What the folks at Google seem reluctant to grasp is that staggering stock profits and market share in an semi-profitable ethereal business, like search engine usage is a recipe for irrational exuberance. Google will stumble if people stop using their search engine.

Dan recommends: ASK.COM
Why not give them a try in June and see if Google notices the ripple in their beloved market share.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

G to the double O G to the L and an E

Make sure though when you talk to Google, you speak only out of the left side of your mouth.

Reports are quickly circulating the 'Net of a purge by the Almighty Google. A purge not of Hizballah's Al-Manar or Khilafah.com.

But instead Google News is purging conservative publications for the troubling reason of we don't have a reason, you're just gone. Noel and Marc Sheppard have collaborated on a piece that appears today at both the indispensable The American Thinker website and also at NewsBusters.

Charles over at LGF notes that the cold hand of the Grim Googler has tapped the shoulder of both Outside the Beltway and Dan Riehl as well.

What should conservative make of this?

First, we should note that Google's strange bedfellows make them unreliable as a Plain Dealer. (HT The aforementioned Thinker piece, but also Michelle Malkin, LGF and others) Secondly, what do conservatives do best when challenged, turn to the marketplace. We should not regulate or force Google to change their ways. If Google wishes to be the Internet clearinghouse for MoveOn propaganda and Jihadist hate speech, so be it. Let them. Conservatives with a penchant for writing code should band together in an open source way to build a better search engine, a better news aggregator. When the left took dominance of the classroom, we worked for vouchers and for transparency in public school. With the left firmly entrenched in Paleo-Media, we pioneered new media. So let's stop complaining about Google. Just like ABC, CBS, NBC, and company, Google's actions reveal them to be left leaning. That's fine, it's a free country. They are not a public trust. They are a publicly traded company. They are not as the Sheppards quote from a suit by Kinderstart.com an "essential facility." Neither Wal-Mart nor Itunes nor any other company providing a service is an "essential facility." They are a company. If they won't play fair, you divest. You find competitors to support with both your business and your investment dollars.

Glenn's right, we are An Army of Davids Google is Goliath. Have at him!

The Inside Job

When I first heard this story last night, the first thing that occurred to me was that the story was mistold.

The AP says this:
Personal data, including Social Security numbers, of 26.5 million US veterans, were stolen from a Veterans Affairs employee this month after he took the information home without authorization, the department said yesterday.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said there is no evidence the burglars who struck the employee's home have used the personal data -- or even know they have it. The employee, a data analyst whom Nicholson would not identify, has been placed on leave pending a review.

Computer disks might be interesting to burglers. Anything that might be of value would prompt an interest from thieves looking to make a score. But depending on what else was stolen, if anything, from this Data analyst's home, the investigation needs to focus on the analyst.

Common sense dictates that if a person violates one law, other laws will be less likely to be obeyed. So if the analyst is willing to violate the privacy of veterans, why not sell the information. Regardless, we have a presumption of innocence in the USA. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs would be perfectly within bounds to dismiss this employee for taking the information home without authorization.

We'll keep digging and try to find the real story. It just smells like an inside job.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Bottom story of Forever

Friday, March 10, 2006

Another reason to like the WBC



This story just came across the wires at Over Epinionated World Headquarters. And we have to say we are pleased.


Puerto Rican police quickly intervened and took the Cuban official -- Angel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports -- to a nearby police station where they lectured him about free speech.

"We explained to him that here the constitutional right to free expression exists and that it is not a crime," police Col. Adalberto Mercado was quoted as saying in El Nuevo Dia, a San Juan daily.

The brouhaha gathered steam Friday when Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma, called the sign-waving "a cowardly incident." Cuba's Revolutionary Sports Movement exhorted Cubans to demonstrate in Havana late Friday, saying U.S. and Puerto Rican authorities were involved in "the cynical counterrevolutionary provocations."


Now if we can just get the folks int eh box seats of the next Cuban game at the WBC to wear these:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

USA! USA! USA!


I wasn't really interested in the World Baseball Classic. And I am mildly disgruntled that our neighbors to the north are now beating us at their sport as well as ours. But seeing 'Tek in that Uni made me smile. And cheer. Go USA!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We are all Tar Heels



Not much mention has been made of the terrorist attack on the campus of UNC-CH last week. I'm a Tar Heel Grad from '96. And like everyone else, I was shocked to learn about the terrorist attack on my old school. The Carolina Review, a wonderful publication, asks what is gained by calling this a terrorist act. First, You gain moral clarity by calling it terrorism. One of the bloggers for the Carolina Review's blog wrote this.
And so, even if this is an act of terrorism, which it very well may be, some greater good is served by NOT calling it terrorism. In a post-9/11 world, the very word terrorism has connotations that spark panic, fear, and irrational hatred.
In fairness to David, he wrote about how it is a terrorist act. His thoughtful post is worth a read in its entirety so you can judge for yourself. I commented on the post. This is a reprint of what I wrote.


I respond: To not call something what it is, you are sending the message you are afraid to face reality because it has consequences. To quote Albus Dumbledore fromt he Harry Potter novels, "Fear of a name, increases fear of the thing itself." Let's not be afraid to say that this is what it is. When we stop saying that what happened last week is terrorism, we enable two things. First we allow the perpetrators of terror to see we bury our heads in the sand at the first mild sign of provocation. Perhaps Mr. Taheri-azar is unconnected to a cell. That's fine, but the minute he attacks innocents to support a politcal agenda, he declares his allegiance with our enemies in the global war on terror.

Secondly, the purveyors of irrational hatred are responsible for their actions, as clearly as Mr. Taheri-azar is for his. We do ourselves no favors by shying away from declaring an act of terrorism an act of terrorism, just because someone else might use that declaration to support a cause we oppose. In fact if our motivation for pulling punches is because we may give the racists in our world a weapon, then we sacrifice some of our moral high ground. We were wronged. And we must respond with clarity of thought and of purpose.

I was a student at UNC ten years ago when the Mother's Day fire at Phi Gamma Delta took five lives in the hours before graduation. Those fires were a tragic accident, and the Carolina campus rallied together to mourn our fallen friends and also to make sure the same fate did not befall others, by promoting solutions that ensured better fire safety in buildings in Chapel Hill. This vicious, and I daresay evil attack, gives us Tar Heels another chance to show our mettle. And the conservatives on campus need to be there as leaders. Buck up.

Now is not the time to go wobbly.