The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Suppression Of Dissent?

The Department of Justice is prosecuting Greenpeace in Miami, relating to the boarding of a ship allegedly carrying illegally cut mahogany (via SF Chronicle; see also Washington Post, MSNBC, Greenpeace):

On April 12, 2002, two Greenpeace activists boarded the APL-Jade as it entered the Port of Miami-Dade, believing it was carrying 70 tons of mahogany illegally imported from the Amazon. The activists were arrested before they could unfurl a banner that read, "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging." Greenpeace alleges that the mahogany was eventually delivered to a South Carolina port. Federal officials had no comment.

Fifteen months later, a Miami federal grand jury indicted Greenpeace on one count of illegally boarding the ship and another of conspiracy to commit that act.

What most frightens activists on both sides of the political spectrum are the penalties that could be invoked, ranging from stripping the organization of its tax-exempt status to allowing federal officials to view its records -- including everything from membership rolls to internal communications.

(You can read the statute here)

It's an interesting case - the SF Chronicle points out that the last time this statute was used was in 1890. Greenpeace is claiming that the government is engaging in selective prosecution, targeting the organization for its exercise of free speech.

I have no opinion about the selective prosecution claim, but do think that Greenpeace's interpretation of the statute is a little curious. Greenpeace's motion to dismiss states:

The statute thus applies, by its terms, when a boarding occurs while the vessel is in the process of being moored, but has not yet completed the process.

That seems to be a pretty narrow window of time. What's puzzling is that this interpretation appears to ignore the "before her actual arrival" language in the statute, which Greenpeace did not address. It would seem to me that a vessel in the process of being moored has actually arrived at its destination.

Then again, perhaps I'm just being nitpicky?

Posted 9:02 PM by Tony


"Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn."
- Charles De Mar, Better Off Dead

Sorry about the lack of blogging - was skiing in Park City for the last several days. The weather was horrible - single digit temperatures on the mountain, wind, almost constant snowing.

The skiing, however, was simply fantastic. I can see why Park City was the venue for several of the events at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Although this was my first time in Park City, I'm certain that things were better this year, than previously. After all, the shady characters had left town long before.

Unfortunately, kamikaze skiing really isn't an option any more, and I banged myself up pretty well. Nothing broken, but soreness all around.

Let me conclude with this haiku, which I thought up while making an up close and personal acquaintance with powder:

Mogul face plant chill
Winter solitude shatter'd
"Single!" lift line call

Posted 7:33 PM by Tony

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Bizarre City Ordinances, Take Two

I previously mentioned a rather curious San Francisco ordinance.

San Francisco Health Code section 73(a) provides:

The Director of Public Health, or his duly authorized deputy, is hereby authorized and directed to quarantine and/or examine any person of either sex whom he has reasonable grounds to believe is afflicted with a venereal disease and is likely to expose others thereto.

When's the last time this particular ordinance has been enforced, with respect to quarantines? More to the point, one wonders if this section will ever be invoked, given that SF is now Number 1 in per capita syphilis rates in the United States.

My money's on "not."

Posted 4:42 PM by Tony

Not So Much A "Ho Ho Ho" . . .

. . . as it is a "Heh, Heh, Heh."

1-22 Infantry has a nice Christmas theme for this year (via Yahoo; see also Reuters):

Perhaps 1-22 can send one to Cardinal Martino?

This year, Saddam Claus not only gave, he received (via News24):

Asked who received the best Christmas present, Sgt Gilbert Nail from Fort Hood, Texas chuckled: "Of course, Saddam. He received free food and boarding for the rest of his life."

"I received only greeting cards," Nail said.

Update: For more photo fun, see Sasha's post.

Posted 12:08 PM by Tony

Helicopter Hazards

From the National Post, there's this:

Canada's $800-million rescue helicopter fleet has suffered a litany of problems since its 1998 purchase, including radios and computers that regularly break down, a flawed de-icing system, a chronic shortage of spare parts, a search light so bright it temporarily blinds rescuers, airframe cracking and bearings that prematurely loosen.

At one point, Human Resources Development Canada threatened to padlock a hangar at Canadian Forces Base Comox on Vancouver Island over a worker safety issue.

In documents obtained by CanWest News Service, one Comox officer, Major Ryan LaPalm, described the Cormorant program as dysfunctional and warned of an "FS Molotov" -- a flight-safety Molotov cocktail.

What's with the Canadian Forces and helicopters? First the Sea Kings (see also Globe and Mail), and now this.

It's yet another datum point pointing toward an unfortunate conclusion.

Posted 8:50 AM by Tony

Fact Checkers Needed At The NYT

The New York Times has an article today on Linus Torvalds, creater of the Linux operating system, in the context of SCO's allegations that Linux is an infringement of SCO's copyright on the Unix operating system.

So far, so good. Then there's the last paragraph:

The dispute over the Unix and Linux heritage became even more tangled yesterday when Novell, a software company, announced it had filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for copyright on some of the same Unix code for which SCO claims the rights.


The Patent and Trademark Office, as one might expect by the name, does not handle copyright applications; the Copyright Office does.

(For more on the Novell angle, see LinuxWorld, Novell's press release.)

Posted 7:56 AM by Tony

Monday, December 22, 2003
Drafting Difficulties

I was reading the Second Circuit's opinion in Padilla v. Rumsfeld, 03-2235 (PDF here), and came across the following language:

As this Court sits only a short distance from where the World Trade Center once stood, we are as keenly aware as anyone of the threat al Qaeda poses to our country and of the responsibilities the President and law enforcement officials bear for protecting the nation.

Guess what the next sentence starts out with? That's right: "But..."

Such weak phrasing suggests that whatever comes next is going smack of lame self-justification. I'm not attacking the merits of the court's decision; I'll leave that to the likes of Professor Volokh.

I'm simply pointing out that the above language undermines the court's conclusion and hardly reflects a court confident in its own opinion.

Posted 4:34 PM by Tony

Up The Gravity Well

Vman notes the first powered flight of SpaceShip One, one of the contenders in the X Prize.

More background (via

To reach space, SpaceShipOne is to fly nearly straight up at a speed of about 2,400 mph, more than three times the speed of sound.

The craft is one of the contenders for the X Prize, a $20 million prize offered by a St. Louis-based foundation to the builder of the first privately developed spaceship to carry three people to 62.5 miles up, then do it again within two weeks.

SpaceShipOne was built in secret and financed without government help at an undisclosed price by Rutan, whose most famous aircraft was the Voyager, which circled the globe in 1986 on one tank of gas. Rutan unveiled SpaceShipOne in April at Scaled's Mojave plant.

The possibility of privately-operated transportation to space seems a little less farfetched now. The very thought raises goosebumps.

Posted 11:09 AM by Tony

The Future Of Gaming?

The New York Times has a feature on the future of video games and the video gaming industry, using Bruno Bonnell CEO of Atari, as the centerpiece. I'm not sure I agree with everything in the article, but it is enlightening, and does provide an interesting factual overview:

Globally, the industry earned $28 billion in 2002, and in the United States, it's growing at around 20 percent a year. According to Fortune magazine, Americans will spend more time playing video games this year -- about 75 hours on average -- than watching rented videos and DVD's. A nationwide survey found that the percentage of last year's college students who had ever played video games was 100. Two games from the industry leader Electronic Arts, Madden NFL Football and FIFA Soccer, have each earned in excess of a billion dollars. (This year's Madden edition made more than $200 million alone.) For new and established musicians alike, games are the new radio; landing a spot on a video-game soundtrack is arguably more prestigious than landing a similar spot in a movie, a function not just of sales figures but also of the fact that the average Madden NFL 2004 buyer, for instance, will spend 100 hours in front of the game. Each statistic is more mind-boggling than the last, and together they certainly pose a challenge to conventional wisdom about which of these media is the tail and which is the dog.

[ . . . ]

Bonnell naturally agrees [with an earlier complimentary assessment of Atari]. ''If you look at the structure of our business today,'' he says, ''you have Electronic Arts running the pack, like 20 percent market share, and then you have a pack of five companies -- Activision, Atari, Take-Two, THQ, Konami -- which are all fighting in the range of 5 to 7 percent market share. At the end of the day, you'll end up with probably four to five players each controlling something between 15 and 20 percent market share, and probably a significant number of smaller players around. To be there, to be in this league, is critical. Because I believe that the big will be bigger and then the small will be smaller. And mechanically, if you're not in the right league -- it's like winning the Tour de France, right? You have to be in the first pack to have a chance. If you are too far behind, you can't really come back.''

Posted 9:05 AM by Tony

By The Numbers

I've disliked the government of Korean president Roh Moo-hyun from the beginning, and a year after his election, it seems that Korean voters are starting to feel the same way (via The Straits Times/Reuters:

South Koreans elected human rights lawyer Roh Moo Hyun as President exactly a year ago yesterday, but opinion polls indicated that many regretted their choice.

Analysts said his decline in popularity was striking even in a country that is famously unforgiving of its leaders.

An election funding scandal that has rocked Mr Roh's term in office has attracted criticism even from a usually sympathetic newspaper and from the country's most senior Catholic leader.

A poll in the Korea Times showed that 56 per cent of those who picked Mr Roh a year ago would vote differently today.

Six out of 10 of the 1,000 voters surveyed gave him the thumbs-down.

Posted 8:03 AM by Tony

True Allies

Ralph Peters has a column in the today's New York Post, which raises a good question about the United States' policy towards it allies:

In the words of an American officer who works closely with them, "Poland has taken to the Iraq mission for idealistic and principled purposes: Its leadership and military truly believe that freedom and justice are universal values worth fighting for."

To how many other nations would those words apply?

Poland has deployed 2,500 of its best soldiers to Iraq. It sent $64 million worth of its newest equipment - which operations in Iraq will ruin. Warsaw selected its finest officers to command and staff the Multinational Division Center South. A Polish major general commands a total of 12,000 troops from 22 nations with responsibility for a sector previously held by twice as many U.S. Marines. The Polish performance has been flawless.

Their reward? Surely America must recognize such a great contribution from an economically struggling ally - at a time when Polish troops also support peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and the Balkans?

Sorry. Turkey, which stabbed us as deeply in the back as it could on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, will receive a minimum of $2 billion from Washington - and the same elements in the Rumsfeld cabal who failed to plan for the occupation of Iraq hope to increase our aid to Ankara to $5 billion.

Pakistan, which refuses to press home the fight against al Qaeda, will get billions from Washington. The repressive Egyptian regime will get a few billion, too, as it does every year. Even Yemen will get a welfare check from Uncle Sugar.

And Poland? Like the Czech Republic, which sent a few medics to the Persian Gulf then withdrew them in panic, Poland will get a standard package of $12 million for NATO-related programs. Other than some logistical support in Iraq, that's it. Strategic peanuts for our most enthusiastic ally on the European continent.

Poland did have one request - a humble one, in the great scheme of things. Warsaw asked for $47 million to modernize six used, American-built C-130 transport aircraft and to purchase American-built HMMWV all-terrain vehicles so elite Polish units could better integrate operations with American forces. Much of the money would go right back to U.S. factories and workers.

Our response? We stiffed them.

Considering that Poland was a leading voice in support of the United States before and during the war, this really seems inexplicable.

Posted 7:31 AM by Tony

Friday, December 19, 2003

There's an article by Judge Kozinski and Professor Volokh on the use of Yiddish in legal opinions.

It seems to be spreading (via Jerusalem Post):

Countries that opposed the US decision to invade Iraq have no right to protest US initiatives restricting reconstruction contracts to allies, the Saudi ambassador to the US said Friday.

"It's amazing how people who were doing everything possible to derail the success" of the Iraq war now "feel they have the right" to reconstruction contracts, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan said. "It just takes so much chutzpah."

[emphasis added]

A Saudi. Using Yiddish.


Posted 3:54 PM by Tony

Who Needs Planning?

I've pointed out this "political freedom is a luxury" statement by Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun concerning North Koreans.

From the Chosun Ilbo, yet another pearl of wisdom from Jeong Se-hyun:

In response to questions as to how Pyeongyang's nuclear ambition will be handled, should nuclear tensions escalate and Washington harden its stance in the future, the minister said such policies will be drawn up when the time comes.

"At this point, I don't think we need to talk about policy issues based on the possibility of negative scenarios." Jeong said.

Apparently, the concept of contingency planning hasn't quite caught on at the Unification Ministry.

Posted 3:25 PM by Tony

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Here's an incident that may reflect the quality of the "insurgents" (via San Jose Mercury News):

And in one extended ambush in Samarra, U.S. officials said, insurgents signaled the approach of a U.S. Army patrol by giving flight to a flock of carrier pigeons, then used children as cover to open fire Monday. U.S. forces killed 11 Iraqis in that incident, the U.S. military said Tuesday. No Americans were reported among the casualties.

Sounds familiar, somehow.

Posted 6:28 AM by Tony

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
What Media Bias?

Allah makes an interesting discovery.


Posted 9:25 AM by Tony

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Am I Part Of The Same Church?

Stuff like this makes me wonder if I'm in the same Catholic Church (via Rita, see also here):

Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department and a former papal envoy to the United Nations, told a news conference on Tuesday it would be "illusory" to think the arrest of the former Iraqi president would heal all the damage caused by a war which the Holy See opposed.

"I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures," he said.

"Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite all the heavy blame he bears, I had a sense of compassion for him," he said in answer to questions about Saddam's arrest.

[ . . . ]

The news conference was called for Martino to present the World Day of Peace message, in which Pope John Paul took a swipe at the United States for invading Iraq without the backing of the United Nations.

Yes, televising a medical check. What an unimaginably horrible thing to do to Saddam Hussein, that peaceable guy. First we had him trapped like a rat, and now we're examining him like a cow.

I suspect Cardinal Martino's sympathies may have lain the other way, so his protests have little weight. (See Islam Online, NPR).

The cardinal, on March 10, stated, "'You see today I pose before you life and goodness or death and evil. Therefore choose life, so you and your descendants may live." Either the cardinal chose the latter, or is simply unable to do the math.

I think we can add Cardinal Martino to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the "Morally Blinkered" category.

The good fathers at my high school (who fled the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956) would have felt compelled to kick some sense into Cardinal Martino for saying something this stupid, I'm sure.

Update: See more at Instapundit, which is chock full of linkage.

Update 2: Peggy Noonan has a pretty good comeback (via Opinion Journal):

The church is very odd these days in that it dodges those controversies on which it has known authority and expertise, and seems to embrace those controversies on which it seems to have nothing to add but airy non sequiturs. See the comments this week of Cardinal Renato Martino, who said it was not compassionate of U.S. forces to publicly search Saddam Hussein's head for lice. Yes, how brutal. Why, it was like what Saddam himself would have done with a captured foe, except once he was done with him he wouldn't have a head. But never mind.

Posted 8:31 AM by Tony

Sunday, December 14, 2003
Nailed Him

Well, we got Saddam Hussein (via Fox News). A few issues that I'm interested in are:

1. Who helped Hussein's regime rearm after the Gulf War;
2. The organization of our current enemy; and
3. The court that will try Hussein.

As to the last question, this seems promising:

Saddam, who could face trial before a new Iraqi tribunal for war crimes, was defiant when top Iraqi officials visited him in captivity hours later -- people at the meeting said he refused to admit to human rights abuses.

The senior administration official told Fox News that the U.S. is leaning toward permitting the Iraqis to try Saddam. The senior official noted, with some irony, that "even for someone like him there's a process."

Saddam will now "face the justice he denied to millions," said President Bush, whose troops and intelligence agents had been searching in vain for Saddam since April. "In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over."

The raid by 600 soldiers and special forces took place Saturday night at a farm in Adwar, 10 miles from Saddam's home town of Tikrit, less than three hours after the pivotal tip was received from an Iraqi.

The informant was a member of a family close to Saddam," [4th Infantry Division commander Gen. Raymond] Odierno told reporters in Tikrit. "Finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals."

Posted 11:33 PM by Tony

Saturday, December 13, 2003
My Ideal Candidate?

Via Annika, I found and took this test to see how well the current candidates for present matched up against my own beliefs.

The results were a tad surprising:

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
2. Bush, President George W. - Republican (63%)
3. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (58%)
4. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (49%)
5. Libertarian Candidate (49%)
6. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (49%)
7. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (48%)
8. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (46%)
9. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat (43%)
10. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (31%)
11. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (24%)
12. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (21%)
13. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (15%)
14. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (11%)

The ranking of Kerry and Edwards ahead of the libertarian candidate? Sounds a little off to me.

Posted 11:29 AM by Tony

Friday, December 12, 2003
PETA Grinches

More silly nonsense from PETA (via Lawren - go wish her luck on her law school finals!):

(via MSNBC)

An opposing slogan, at the same level of maturity, might be:

"PETA Causes Premature Ejaculation. Chicks Dig The Meat."

Ah, PETA. You may remember them from such classics as "Bribing The Supervisors With Crappy Faux Burgers" and "Stupid Condescendingly Arrogant Nekkid Biotches."

And of course, there's my personal favorite "Eating Meat Is Like Killing A Jew":

Perhaps the best response to PETA's nonsense is mockery:

Either that, or take the Ted Nugent approach.

Call me crazy, but even near-naked chicks in body paint(?) isn't quite enough to balance the organization's collective stupidity and offensiveness:

Lisa Franzetta, PETA campaign coordinator
(via SFGate)

Posted 6:31 PM by Tony

Needs More Puppies

Instapundit offers this excuse for not covering a news item:

For the record, I have no staff. If I don't get to stuff, it doesn't get gotten to on InstaPundit. And lots of stuff -- including lots of stuff that I'd cover if I had more time, or more energy -- doesn't get gotten to. But that's okay, because the blogosphere is a big place, and I don't have to get to everything!

Sounds like someone needs to throw a few more puppies into the blender. See IMAO for some poorly photoshopped evidence.

Unlike Frank J., I hope the Instapundit doesn't get arrested.

Posted 2:00 PM by Tony

Patent Litigation In The Good Ol' Days

This piece in the Opinion Journal has a brief synopsis of the lawsuits between Glenn Curtis and the Wright brothers concerning the Wrights' airplane patent. (see also here)

Interesting stuff.

Posted 8:03 AM by Tony

Thursday, December 11, 2003
The Other Patten

There's something intrinsically sad when respect metamorphoses into, well, if not contempt, then something close to it.

I remember when Chris Patten was the last governor of Hong Kong. In the final days before the handover to the Communists, it seemed that Patten was in the news all the time, fighting for a continued democratic system.

Then, he joined the governmental machinery of the European Union.

As External Commissioner, he gave a speech last year in which he let the facade slip a little bit, in outlining the security goals for the European Union:

But the European Union will not deserve to be taken seriously as international actor, and as a counterpart if not a counterweight to the US, if it does not make a more serious effort in the field of defence and security.

[emphasis added]

Was the "counterweight" (which implies opposition) language a mere slip of the tongue? Perhaps, but perhaps not. (See also den Beste, who links to other Patten comments)

Then, there's this reaction to the recent contract issue, via MSNBC:

A Pentagon directive says countries wanting a share of the $18.6 billion in reconstruction contracts in the 2004 U.S. budget must participate militarily in the postwar effort.

The European Commission called the contract ban a “political mistake,” and said it would examine the contracts to see if Washington had violated its commitments to the World Trade Organization.

"This is a gratuitous and extremely unhelpful decision at a time when there is a general recognition of the need for the international community to work together for stability and reconstruction in Iraq," Chris Patten, the European Union’s commissioner for international relations, said through a spokesman.

[emphasis added]

Apparently, Patten is under the impression that no endeavour is truly international unless the letters UN, or perhaps, EU are in there somewhere.

The EU (as a whole, and not those EU countries that contributed) had its chance. And dropped the ball. Patten's pre-war comments also come to mind. The EU's current inability to benefit from money allocated from the United States budget is oddly unmoving.

Update: Marcus Gee at the Globe and Mail gets it:

Of course, Canada was not the only one to complain about the U.S. decision on contracts. Germany, France, Russia and the European Union all professed to be shocked and appalled. How can you expect us to help out in Iraq if you treat us this way, they demanded of Washington? Instead of shutting us out of contracts, you should be asking for our help.

That is precisely what the United States has been doing. For months, it has been practically pleading with other countries to send troops to help restore order in Iraq. From Paris, Berlin and Moscow, the answer has been a diplomatic version of, "You must be kidding."

When Secretary of State Colin Powell asked NATO for help recently, he got the coldest of cold shoulders. As for the United Nations, it pulled most of its international staff out of Iraq when its Baghdad headquarters was struck by a suicide bomber in August. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says it's too dangerous to go back. He's putting the new Iraqi HQ in Cyprus.

Essentially, then, the message to the United States from Canada and the other anti-war countries is this: We won't put a single one of our soldiers at risk to help you rebuild Iraq, but we demand that our companies get a share in profits. The nerve, to use Mr. Manley's term, is "shocking."

Posted 11:36 PM by Tony


My blog pal Dawn is about to have a kid. Having gone through it before, she describes the process of birth.

Sounds really painful.

Posted 6:36 AM by Tony

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
A Response To Blumrich

I wrote earlier about a Kucinich ad that I thought reflected poorly on Mr. Kucinich's presidential campaign.

Blackfive and Juliette responded rather negatively to the ad. The ad's creator, Eric Blumrich responded in a manner indicating that pretty much misses the mark. Blumrich's site does not have permalinks, so I'm just going to go through his entire response here.

I'm probably stepping on Blackfive's territory here, but I thought it'd be an interesting exercise.

Warning: Any comments I judge to be rude or uncivil on this topic will be deleted.

Let's proceed:

Some joker calling himself "The Paratrooper of Love" has taken issue with my latest animation, myself, and Dennis Kucinich for featuring the animation on his site.

And for good reason, I think. And as for the implied criticism of the pseudonym, I'm guessing Mr. Blumrich didn't read read the explanation. Blumrich would be well-advised to actually go through more than a single post before indulging in attacks. As a mirror-image example, one might take a look at Blumrich's links and bio pages. The replacement of the "x" in Fox News with a swastika in the links section would be enough to suggest that any sort of rational reply is pointless, see, e.g. Godwin's Law, but let's press on, shall we?

In fact, he has called Dennis and I "Traitor Bastards. Traitor. Bastards."

Again, yep. Myself, I'm not sure that Blumrich has committed treason, in either the dictionary sense or the legal sense. Blumrich's parentage isn't at issue. As a matter of personal opinion, I, for one, feel that definition 3a applies.

He seems to take issue with me listing the names of the dead soldiers in Iraq, saying that I'm "Using" these folks. He claims Dennis is, similarly "Using" these military fallen to "further his campaign."

Blumrich misses the mark. The dead are different - for one, they cannot reply for themselves. If we did not attach reverence to the dead, we would not have such ancient and loosely translated sayings as "do not speak ill of the dead" (though, like all dicta, they are subject to limitations - who doesn't speak ill of Hitler?). If we did not care about the wishes of the dead, there'd be no point to the testamentary disposition by wills of property. Let's accept as a postulate that the dead are different, and the way that we treat the dead is different. This holds especially true, I think, for those who died in the service of others.

The problem, then, is defining acceptable uses of the dead. No one has a problem with a memorial for the dead, with no other purpose than to remember them. The incorporation of the names of individual dead for other purposes, such as a political campaign, however, can reasonably called objectionable.

A few examples:

1. The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial - despite some initial adverse reaction, e.g. "black gash of shame," the listing of individual names on the Wall is unobjectionable because those names serve no other purpose than to remember those who fell in the war.

2. Mention of the September 11 attacks to further political ends - Joseph Lieberman and John Edwards refer to the 3000 dead in attacking President Bush's security policy. Howard Dean refers to September 11. All of them expressed their points without resorting to the use of individual names as a political device. Though I disagree with their points, I have no problem with their references to the dead in the collective sense.

To repeat, the problem with Blumrich's Kucinich ad is that it refers to uses the names of individuals who have died (presumably without permission) for a purpose other than commemoration or remembrance.

Well- let's look at the facts...

Yes. Let's.

Who "used" (and, might I add, callously wasted) the lives of these young men and women in the first place?

That one's open to argument. How about Saddam Hussein, whose rule of Iraq was marked by two wars with its neighbors, a long-standing intent to produce plutonium, and the deployment of chemical weapons against civilian populations? How about the UN, which failed to enforce its own resolutions and to attach any consequences to noncompliance with the IAEA? How about Russia, Germany, France, and Canada, whose leaders conducted a campaign of obstruction and delay, which arguably allowed Hussein more time to prepare for hostilities, with a concomitant increase in Allied casualties?

Well- dangit- do I need to even say?

Yes. If Blumrich is going to make a claim or assertion, he should be prepared to back it up.

It was George Bush who sent these fine young men and women into an unneccessary, illegal war. It was George Bush who sent them off to die.

Yes, he did, with the authorization of Congress. Unnecessary? See the above. Illegal? Remember UN Resolution 1441 and how Iraq's refusal to cooperate as a "material breach" inviting "serious consequences"? Remember the Security Council doing absolutely nothing about it? An accusation of illegality falls flat when the "authority" in question refuses to act. Moreover, the statement implies that armed conflict is legal only when authorized by an extranational body. An interesting notion, when one considers that the League of Nations still existed until after the end of World War II.

And why? To make his rich corporate buddies just a smidgen richer, and to achieve closure with a strange, psychological, freudian issue with his failed president of a dad.

This isn't a fact, it's unsupported speculation. Blumrich seems to confuse correlation with causation. Daniel Drezner deflates this particular meme here and here. Blumrich suggests that this war was conducted for the benefit of some "corporate buddies," but fails to show any intent or agreement, required to make that suggestion credible.

Let's put it another way. Suppose I'm a social acquaintance of a great baseball player. The player leaves his team, then starts playing for my home team. Does that mean the player intended to benefit me by playing for my home team?

Now that these kids have started to come home dead at a rate of 9 per week, George Bush further shows his disrespect and disregard for these fallen dead by outlawing any television coverage of their return, or their funerals.

Again, Blumrich misses the mark - this policy is not new, and has been in place 1991. Blumrich would impute sinister motives to the ban, but as the articles show, the restrictions have an objectively reasonable basis.

And what did I do, in creating this animation? I did what Bush is unwilling to do- pay public homage to these folks, and let the american and world public see the price that is being paid for Bush's lies. The more people know of the price we pay when we put up with Bush's lies, the more people are informed, and the fewer of these young men and women will be coming home in body bags.

Again, Blumrich falls short. The president refers to the dead on Memorial Day, July 1, September 7, October 9, November 6, Thanksgiving, or November 25. While an homage may have been Blumrich's intent, his expression of that claimed intent has been deplorable, as I've indicated above.

Kucinich, I believe, has the same sentiments in using this animation. In listing the names of the dead on his site, he is showing far more respect and giving more dignity to their names and lives than the illegitimate president who sent them off to die for selfish, prurient reasons.

I would point out that Blumrich isn't really qualified to speak on Kucinich for anything.

Now, even though this "pinhead of love" has posted my e-mail addy to his site, I have yet to recieve a single e-mail from any of his drones. However, he also lists the Kucinich for President phone number, and I know they've been getting a tad of flack from this foolishness, which is truly unfortunate.

I can't speak for the others, but given Blumrich's resort to childish ad hominem irrelevancies about penis size in his replies, a person who would otherwise send an email may feel a sense of futility in taking the time to e-mail Blumrich. And as for the calls, the concept of people calling a presidential campaign using a number provided by that campaign to facilitate communication and the receipt of voter sentiment hardly seems outrageous.

But, ya know? While this one, poor, sad sack has gotten his panties into a wad, I've gotten SCORES of supporting e-mails from combat veterans, who truly know of the consequences and horrors of war, and are disgusted at how Bush is mis-using our military.

Blumrich again misses the point. His allegations of support are irrelevant, since the problem is Blumrich's use of individual names of the dead in a political advertisement. Did Blumrich get the permission of the families of any of the dead whose names are in the advertisement? If he got the permisison of the families of all those people, then I extend my apologies. I suspect not, and the unauthorized use of even one of those names is objectionable.

So- the Moral of this story?

Right-wing gung-ho pinheads who are too stupid to know the score can rant and rave, but in the end, they only show how foolish they really are.

An accusation of "rant and rave" hardly seems appropriate, given the tone of Blumrich's response. Blumrich again confuses things; "vehement disagreement" and "stupid" are not synonymous. As a "right-wing gung-ho pinhead," I may lack Mr. Blumrich's credentials in history, sociology, and politics, but I did manage to graduate from one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, and graduated in the top third of my class at one of the better law schools. Despite my disagreement with Mr. Blumrich's politics and being appalled by his methods, I hardly think I yield to him in intelligence.

The animation will stay up, and I hope Dennis keeps it up on his site, as long as it is useful to his campaign. People NEED to know the human costs of Bush's insanity, and while the flying monkey right might blow a gasket when confronted with the truth, their hysterical invective should be dismissed for what it is- sheer, misinformed hysteria.

So, stripped of rhetorical devices, Blumrich's apparent explanation is that the end justifies the means; a curious justification for someone who objected to the recent war. Unless, of course, Blumrich didn't think the removal of Saddam Hussein was not justifiable under any circumstances?

Surely, Mr. Blumrich, you can provide a better-reasoned response, with your claimed 16 years of studies in history, poltics, and sociology. Can't you?

Posted 8:25 PM by Tony

Quote Of The Day

The always interesting Tony Pierce on Kwanzaa (background on its founder here):

and then theres kwanza.

one thing black people can do well is praise jesus. we do it better than anyone in the world. the music we make when we do it might be the most magical of all music, the preachers we have might be the best there ever were, and the clothes we wear to church are the sharpest.

then on the flip side we have our brothers and sisters who are muslim, and watch them pray. they win at praying. they win at pilgrimiging. they win at letting their spirituality become a solid and regular part of their lives.

with those two options, theres no need for any damn kwanza. some watered down bullshit made up strip mall phony holiday so you can wear a koofi? fuck that shit. we need to focus up on the biggest birthday of the year. we dont need no stinkin kwanza getting in the way.

black folk, the racists want us to have kwanza. it makes us look ridiculous and lost. kwanza represents something missing from being Christian. racists dont want black folk being Christian. they dont want to be equals to us. they dont want to share beliefs, they dont want to have anything to do with us, cuz they know that familiarity destroys ignorance, and only the ignorant can remain hateful.

I agree with the sharpest dressed thing, having driven in the area of Divisadero and Oak Streets on a Sunday.

Also: apparently, the universe is indeed capable of communication.

Posted 9:59 AM by Tony

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Payback's A Bitch

This one's good for a laugh (via The Globe and Mail/AP; see also Fox News):

The Pentagon has formally barred companies from countries opposed to the Iraq war from bidding on $18.6-billion (U.S.) worth of reconstruction contracts.

A directive from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz limits bidders on those 26 contracts to firms from the United States, Iraq, their coalition partners and other countries which have sent troops to Iraq.

The ruling bars companies from U.S. allies such as France, Germany and Canada from bidding on the contracts because their governments opposed the American-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein's regime.

The memo is at the Coalition Provisional Authority site (PDF here). Here's the money quote:

Based upon the findings above, I hereby determine that, in accordance with 41 U.S.C. 253(c)(7), as implemented by FAR 6.302-7, it is necessary in the public interest to use other than competitive procedures in the procurements for the prime contracts described on the attachment. Such procurements shall use competitive procedures, with participation limited to sources from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners and force contributing nations.

[links added]


Update: Those countries, as might be expected, reacted adversely. I read a suggestion on a bulletin board I frequent that if the offended parties take a harder line on restructuring Iraqi debt, that the United States assign to Iraq some of the debt owed by those countries to the US. Interesting idea.

Posted 6:41 PM by Tony

Monday, December 08, 2003
Science Fiction Hotties

I'm watching the Battlestar Galactica miniseries on the SciFi Channel right now. It's rather good, and definitely a lot better than I was expecting.

To my surprise and delight, there's a Korean-American actress playing a prominent role - Grace Park. No, not that Grace Park; the one I'm talking about is a lot more attractive, I think. I'm not quite an angryasianman, but still - pretty damned cool.

Grace Park as Lt. Sharon Valerii (Boomer)
(click on pic for full size version)

Update: She's Canadian - my bad.

Posted 11:02 PM by Tony

Manifest Injustices

Sometimes, one has to wonder at the workings of "justice"...

Meet Kenzi Snider. (see Star and Stripes; Chosun Ilbo; Goldbrick in Seoul; Justice4Kenzi)
She was acquitted of the homicide. (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The prosecution appealed.
The appeals court upheld the acquittal. (via Court TV)
The prosecution again appealed.
The case is currently before the Supreme Court of Korea.

Ms. Snider has the distinction of being the first person extradited pursuant to a 1999 treaty between the ROK and the United States. (Maybe; see this LAPD press release)

According to Brendan, even if Ms. Snider ultimately goes free, she may face immigration charges. The reason: being in Korea, i.e. in jail, without a visa.

Let me see if I get this straight: She faces charges for being in a country to which she was sent against her will? Unbelievable.

Why are the Korean authorities so determined to have Ms. Snider go to jail, regardless of the charge? Loss of face?

A rather good question to ask - particularly in the Twilight Zone law-abiding country.

For those of you who may be shocked at my cynicism re Korea and the rule of law, I would refer you to Brendan and IA. Actually, just got to Brendan's site and keep scrolling.

On second thought, I think it's fair to say that things are getting better, but there's still a way to go.

Posted 3:16 PM by Tony

Making Hay Out Of KIAs

At first I thought Kucinich was slightly unhinged, by his claiming of an endorsement by a fictional character.

Then I thought that he was slightly cynical, using children for endorsements and as a campaign vehicle.

Now, I know that he's a f*cking contemptible bastard.

I saw this Kucinich ad, via Blackfive. Kucinich's appropriation of the names of the dead, likely without permission, to further his own campaign agenda is . . . words simply fail me.

There are those who would drag out the canard about the First Amendment as justification. Let's make something very clear. The First Amendment protects the right to say something, but it certainly does not insulate the speaker from a private individual exercising his own free speech rights in response.

The question isn't whether his speech is permissible (though the "fair use" aspect seems a tad arguable to me). Rather, it's the propriety of his speech that the issue.

Criticize Iraq policy as much as you like, Mr. Kucinich. But don't you dare hijack the dead to do so.

Update: Blackfive follows up.

Posted 2:50 PM by Tony

Saturday, December 06, 2003
Korean Screen Quotas

Professor and economist Tyler Cowen has been discussing cultural protectionism in the context of screen quotas over at Marginal Revolution. All of the film stuff on that site is pretty interesting - just keep scrolling.

Today, he links to a Joongang Ilbo piece by Kim Young-bong.

Picking screen quotas as a cultural do-or-die last stand seems a bit odd. Celluloid is hardly the everlasting kind of thing that makes Korea an Ozymandias among nations. (Yes, I know - modern film stock isn't celluloid. I'm speaking metaphorically; work with me here.)

Perhaps it's attitude. My own opinion is that culture is not something to be defended from the world so much as it is something to contribute to the world. Then again, I'm speaking from an American perspective, which is pretty much a dog's breakfast in culture and language. I'll leave the deep thoughts as an exercise for the reader.

Oh well. At least Koreans can go to a quota-protected movie, after running an errand at Kinko's and a meal at Outback Steakhouse. Afterwards, they can talk about the cultural aspects of the movie at Starbucks.

In any event, go check out Marginal Revolution for more bloggity goodness. It's a great blog, and I'm not just saying that because I got a credit and a link for the pointer. :)

Posted 9:19 AM by Tony

Friday, December 05, 2003
Quote Of The Day

Conrad again shows why he's the master of the pithy quote:

How dare the President of the United States fly into hostile airspace to spend the holiday with US troops and pose with a mere display turkey?!? The Democrats will have a field day with this. They well know that a US president has no business in Iraq with his hands on a dodgy bird; he belongs in the Oval Office, with his dick in an intern's mouth.

Do yourself a favor by going to his site, and start scrolling.

Posted 12:21 PM by Tony

PETA Petulance

Blackfive has a post on PETA going off on Ashanti for wearing mink. I've posted some PETA-related stuff earlier, at here, here, here, and especially here.

The best comeback I've seen to this is by musician Ted Nugent, who's had his own run-ins with anti-fur types (Feb. 25, 2003, on Fox News's Hannity & Colmes):

HANNITY: Let me ask you. You know, the PETA people, the animal rights people hate your guts. You know that.

NUGENT: I'm so proud. I couldn't be more proud. Every time they open their mouth, I kill a dozen of something for them.

HANNITY: Yes. You're going to kill some in...

NUGENT: Every time they open their mouths I kill more deer and feed the homeless and I give food to the Salvation Army.

HANNITY: In 2002, you were telling me off the air, 20 million meals were provided because people like you go deer hunting.

NUGENT: Yes. The hunters of this nation in the year 2002 that I have documentation of, this is just I think the tip of the iceberg. But between Safari Club International, our own Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America, sporting groups across the country, 20 million hot meals of pure protein for homeless shelters. How beautiful is that?

Posted 9:13 AM by Tony

TKD in the USFK

According to the European and Pacific Stars & Stripes, every soldier in Korea may be required to learn taekwondo (via Korea Herald):

The 8th Army command will investigate making South Korea’s national sport, tae kwan do, compulsory for every U.S. soldier stationed on the peninsula, officials said this week.

The martial art, which was founded in Korea and incorporates kicks and punches, has been a compulsory part of physical training for 2nd Infantry Division soldiers since November 2000.

[ . . . ]

Korean tae kwan do grandmaster Kim Mu-nok, who oversees the 2nd ID program, brought the proposal to Welch. Kim, assisted by eight other masters in teaching Area I soldiers, said 2nd ID personnel devote at least one hour-long physical training session to tae kwan do each week.

Since the program began, 30,000 soldiers have earned their yellow belts in the martial art and 100 U.S. soldiers and 200 Korean augmentees to the Army have obtained black belts, Kim told senior officers and soldiers participating in the tae kwon do program at Camp Red Cloud Tuesday.

“When soldiers come to Korea and study tae kwan do, they learn Korean culture and they learn strength, speed, and confidence useful in combat,” he said.

“It makes them warriors. That is really second to none. Hoo-ah!” he said, combining the 2nd ID slogan and the now-ubiquitous Army grunt of agreement.

Expect fights in Itaewon to get a lot more interesting.

I never really cared for taekwondo that much, and instead learned a bit of judo in grad school. I never cared for kicking people; throws and chokes seemed a lot more civilized. Call it a matter of personal preference. :-)

Posted 8:27 AM by Tony

Thursday, December 04, 2003
Canterbury Tales Of Moral Relativism, Part Two

I previously wrote a bit about the foolishness of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Curious about the "serious moral goals" speech, I found the full text of his October 14, 2003 lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, entitled "Just War Revisted." Williams's lecture is a response to a 2002 lecture by George Weigel, entitled "Moral Clarity In A Time Of War." Both speeches deal with "just war" theory, as developed by Saint Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica, specifically Question 40.

It's fascinating stuff, so please bear with me.

Weigel says:

One of the more distasteful forms of post-9/11 commentary can be found in suggestions that there were “root causes” to terrorism – “root causes” that not only explained the resort to mass violence against innocents, but made the use of such violence humanly plausible, if not morally justifiable. The corollary to this was the suggestion that the United States had somehow brought 9/11 on itself, by reasons of its dominant economic and cultural position in the world, its Middle East policy, or some combination thereof. The moral-political implication was that such a misguided government lacked the moral authority to respond to terrorism through the use of armed force.

The “root causes” school blithely ignores the extant literature on the phenomenon of contemporary terrorism, which is emphatically not a case of the “wretched of the earth” rising up to throw off their chains. []

[ . . . ]

Among those who have “forgotten” the just war tradition while retaining its language, the classic ad bellum criterion of “last resort” is usually understood in simplistically mathematical terms: the use of proportionate and discriminate armed force is the last point in a series of options, and prior, non-military options (legal, diplomatic, economic, etc.) must be serially exhausted before the criterion of “last resort” is satisfied. This is both an excessively mechanistic understanding of “last resort” and a prescription for danger.

The case of international terrorism again compels a development of this ad bellum criterion. For what does it mean to say that all non-military options have been tried and found wanting when we are confronted with a new and lethal type of international actor, one which recognizes no other form of power except the use of violence and which is largely immune (unlike a conventional state) to international legal, diplomatic, and/or economic pressures? The charge that U.S. military action after 9/11 was morally dubious because all other possible means of redress had not been tried and found wanting misreads the nature of terrorist organizations and networks. The “last” in “last resort” can mean “only,” in circumstances where there is plausible reason to believe that non-military actions are unavailable or unavailing.

[emphasis added]

Williams the Archbishop replies:

Here is an awkwardness in Weigel’s case. The terrorist, he says, has no aims that can be taken seriously as political or moral; but this is a sweeping statement, instantly challengeable. The terrorist is objectively wicked, no dispute about that, in exercising the most appalling form of blackmail by menacing the lives of the innocent. Nothing should qualify this judgement. But this does not mean that the terrorist has no serious moral goals (what about the Irgun?). It is possible to use unspeakably wicked means to pursue an aim that is shared by those who would not dream of acting in the same way, an aim that is intelligible or desirable. The risk in claiming so unproblematic a right to define what counts as politics and so to dismiss certain sorts of political calculation in combating terrorism is that the threatened state (the US in this instance) loses the power of self-criticism and becomes trapped in a self-referential morality which creates even deeper difficulties in the application of just war theory.

[emphasis added]

The problem with Williams's analysis is that he misconstrues the nature of antiterrorism and conflates terrorst and non-terrorist actors. He assumes that affirmative action against antiterrorism, i.e., not bending over and taking it, is directed at both sets of people.

Antiterrorism is directed at the ends, not the means. Shouting at people is fine; shooting at people is not. Antiterrorism policy and operations are directed at the shooters, not the shouters.

That a person has "serious moral goals" is irrelevant where that person has embraced violence directed at civilians as the means.

I think Weigel has the last word:

The fact of the matter today is that the just war tradition, as a historically informed method of rigorous moral reasoning, is far more alive in our service academies than in our divinity schools and faculties of theology; the just war tradition “lives” more vigorously in the officer corps, in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and at the higher levels of the Pentagon than it does at the National Council of Churches, in certain offices at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, or on the Princeton faculty.

I would, for one would also add the Archbishop of Canterbury to that list.

Posted 6:35 PM by Tony

California Republican Stuff

A couple items of California-specific stuff that I thought was interesting.

Item The First:

There's a mayoral runoff election on December 9 in San Francisco between Gavin Newsom (left) and Matt Gonzalez (far left). The SF Chroncle has an article on how both sides are trying to woo the Republican vote (yes, Virginia, there are Republicans in San Francisco):

The race for San Francisco mayor between Supervisors Gavin Newsom and Matt Gonzalez is considered close enough that the participation of any number of voting blocs could sway the outcome of the election. [note - "Supervisors" because it's the "City and County of San Francisco"]

That would include, perhaps significantly, San Francisco's 58,000 registered Republicans, whose views on slashing government spending and cutting taxes put them at odds with the great majority of liberal voters in the city.

Republicans make up nearly 13 percent of San Francisco's registered voters, behind Democrats (54 percent) and voters who decline to state a party preference (26 percent). The Green Party has 3 percent of the registered voters.

First off, the assertion that the SF Republicans have "third-party status" is not supported by the article. The article shows who's on first, but what's on second? The undeclared voters don't count precisely because they're declining to state a party.

This is similar to last year’s election for SF Public Defender, between Jeff Adachi and Kimiko Burton (daughter of Democratic state senator John Burton). Near the end of the race, both sides sent targeted mailers to Republican voters. If memory serves, the one side’s mailer accused the other side of falsely claiming the endorsement of the local Republican Party.

From a Republican perspective, it’s pretty hard to care about this particular election. The election really isn’t about voting for someone so much as it is about voting against someone. As the article shows, both candidates have historically snubbed the SF Republicans, and are only courting their vote because the race is so close. Without doubt, the winner will go back to treating SF Republicans like crap after the election.

In light of the alternative, my preference is for Newsom. According to the article, Judge (and former state senator) Quentin Kopp believes Newsom is tainted by his connections with Mayor (and former Enemy Numero Uno to California Republicans) Willie Brown. However, I find Gonzalez much more objectionable, given, among other things, his "baby out with the bathwater" approach to immigation issues:

Congress is proposing to pass the Clear Act, which will require local police departments to collaborate with federal immigration enforcement agencies as a condition for receiving federal funds. As Mayor of San Francisco, I will advocate with our congressional representatives against passage and will refuse local implementation. I will also aggressively enforce the San Francisco City of Refuge Ordinance, which, with the exception of a few circumstances, prohibits county employees from collaborating with federal immigration enforcement agencies.

(Note – the CLEAR Act is H.R. 2671, introduced by Representative Charlie Norwood from Georgia.)

Item The Second:

I’m beginning to think that every member of the California Assembly and Senate should be horse-whipped every four months as a condition of holding office. This piece by Jill Stewart in the SF Chronicle (also available on her web site) illustrates why (via kausfiles):

I can report that Republicans in the Assembly drew first blood, springing a surprise vote on the Democrats to dispense with the usual rules so the Assembly could instantly consider repealing SB60, which allows illegal immigrants to get a driver's license.

[ . . . ]

Forget the cleansed media reports. Here's what went down: [director of finance Donna] Arduin was invited to present her fiscal audit. Committee chairwoman Jenny Oropeza, D- Long Beach, booked Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill to testify also.

Hill went first. Arduin, who the committee knew had to meet with the governor at noon, was made to wait an hour and 15 minutes. Oropeza refused Arduin's request to testify in a timely manner. Arduin finally spoke at 11:45 a.m.

Suffering a nasty sinus infection, Arduin asked if she could sit down. Oropeza refused to let Arduin sit, using the lame excuse that the committee needed to see her face.

People couldn't believe it. A murmur went up. Was this for real? But Oropeza again insisted Arduin stand. Part way through her testimony, Arduin pleaded for a chair. Two men rushed over. Oropeza -- in a dripping, saccharine voice -- exclaimed, "Of course sit down, of course, if you really need to!"

A joke spread: "Oropeza went to the Cruz Bustamante School of Condescension."

As Arduin answered questions, her noon appointment time passed. Finally, as a legislator asked another question, Arduin ended her testimony and left.

Most media reported that Arduin abruptly left but sanitized the mistreatment by Oropeza. The Los Angeles Times, for example, did not tell readers that Oropeza forced Arduin to stand, and buried the fact that Oropeza made Arduin late.

Maltreatment of Arduin spread. Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, stated at another hearing: "Let's have a little fun here," then turned to Mike Genest, Arduin's top aide, and caustically stated, "You are the director of finance, and she is more of a figurehead."

This kind of behavior may explain why California’s budget deadline, which was last met in 1986, has become a running joke.

Update: Newsom won. Hooray, I guess.

Posted 3:20 PM by Tony


A friend referred me to this picture of Democratic candidate Howard Dean at Drudge Report:

Has this picture been altered? Either way, pretty hilarious.

Posted 11:11 AM by Tony

Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Web Oddities

Sometimes, I run across links that make no sense in the context of the web site.

Today's example:

The Brigade of Gurkhas is the name for the units of Nepalese nationals serving in the British Army.

Yet, for some reason, the Museum of Tolerance (Simon Wiesenthal Center) site has a page on the Gurkhas. (via


(Incidentally, a battalion of Gurkhas will allegedly be disbanded, as well as the Royal Scots, the Black Watch, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire, and a portion of the Royal Irish Regiment; this, admittedly, is only of interest to those interested in military history.)

Posted 5:36 PM by Tony

Canadian Forces, R.I.P.

From Wikipedia:

At the end of World War II, Canada possessed the third largest navy and fourth largest air force in the world, as well as the largest all-volunteer army ever fielded (conscription was only introduced near the end of the war, and no conscripts actually made it into battle).

From "Canada Without Armed Forces?" (released Dec. 3, 2003, p. 109-10):

If this portion of the defence budget continues to fall, and if funding for capital acquisition is not increased, then the air force will likely disappear through the 2008-2013 time frame, and either the army or navy will disappear in the same time frame.

This report is the subject of wide press coverage in Canada today, e.g. The Globe and Mail, CBC, and National Post. Edited by Douglas Bland at Queen's University, in collaboration with the Conference of Defence Assocations, the report makes clear that the Canadian Forces have been progressively deteriorating, perhaps beyond recovery, making any continued participation in peacekeeping and coalition operations less and less likely.

Kind of makes Chretien's refusal to support the United States in Iraq pretty irrelevant. What's the point of asking for help when the party being asked for help can't deliver?

Update: Margaret Wente at the Globe and Mail comments on the same study:

Romeo Dallaire is a national hero and a riveting speaker. I saw him in action recently, and he left the audience in tears. With raw passion, he described the awful butchery in Rwanda and how powerless he was to stop it. Every day for months, he begged and pleaded with the UN for reinforcements. With even a few thousand troops, he believes, he could have saved hundreds of thousands of people. But help never came. Instead of sending more troops, the United Nations decided to withdraw them. The United States was utterly indifferent, too. And so, as the world looked the other way, Rwanda became the greatest killing field since Cambodia.

[ . . . ]

There is a pragmatic argument for spending money on the military, and it goes like this: It's the price we've got to pay for sitting at the table with the big boys. It's hard to preach to NATO about its obligations as long as we spend less per capita on defence than any Western nation but Luxembourg. What's worse, the Americans won't listen to us, either. Why should they pay attention to a nation that scarcely bothers to defend its own borders? If we cut back any more on defence, we'll have to contract the entire job out to them.

There's another argument I like better. I would like us to be able to live up to our cherished image of ourselves as the world's good guys. The trouble is that being good guys requires something more than lip service and good intentions. Just ask Romeo Dallaire.

Posted 11:16 AM by Tony

Lobbyists, Not Legislators

Melanie Kirkpatrick writes in the Opinion Journal, asking why little attention is being paid to leaked memos that allegedly show improper collusion between advocacy groups and Democratic senators in recent judicial nominations:

So let's review. The memos--from 2001-02 when the Democrats controlled Judiciary under the chairmanship of Sen. Patrick Leahy--show the senators took their marching orders from People for the American Way, the Alliance for Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the NAACP. No surprise here, as anyone who's been following the course of Mr. Bush's stalled nominees knows full well. But the extent of the groups' micromanagement is eye-popping and exposes the opposition to Mr. Bush's judicial picks for what it really is: political maneuvering, not principled differences of opinion.

I followed the link to the Coalition For A Fair Judiciary, and started going through the memos (long version PDF). These memos suggests a great deal of coordination between advocacy groups and individual Senators. While perhaps ultimately innocuous, the disclosures in these memos do merit further attention.

Here are some examples (page references are to the 30 page PDF):

June 21, 2002 memo to Senators Kennedy, Schumer, Durbin, Cantwell (p. 5):

We suggest that you encourage Senator Leahy to continue fighting the Administration for these Memos [written by Miguel Estrada while serving as Solicitor General], and if possible, that one of you help him in this fight.

April 17, 2002 memo to Senator Kennedy (p.6)

Elaine [Jones of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund] would like the [Judiciary] Committee to hold off on any 6th Circuit nominees [at the time composed of 9 active judges] until the University of Michigan case regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education is decided by the en banc 6th Circuit. . . . The thinking is that the current 6th Circuit will sustain the affirmative action program, but if a new judge with conservative views is confirmed before the case is decided, that new judge will be able, under 6th Circuit rules, to review the case and vote on it.

[note - the en banc Sixth Circuit upheld the University of Michigan Law School race/ethnicity-conscious admissions policy by a vote of 5-4.]

June 4, 2002 memo to Senator Kennedy (p. 7):

As you know, the meeting with the groups to discuss the strategy on judicial nominations is scheduled for tomorrow at 11:50. Both Senator Schumer and Senator Durbin will attend. The six principals who will attend are (1) Wade Henderson [Executive Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights], (2) Ralph Neas [President, People for the American Way], (3) Leslie Proll of the NAACP LDF, (4) Nancy Zirkin [Deputy Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights/American Association of University Women Director of Public Policy and Government Relations (?)], (5) Nan Aron [President, Alliance for Justice], and (6) Kate Michelman [President, NARAL].

June 12, 2002 memo to Senator Kennedy (p. 11):

As you know, during your meeting with the groups, you and Schumer discussed approaching Leahy during the [Dennis] Shedd [(nominee for 4th Circuit] hearing. . . . [W]e don't think you should expend a great deal of effort trying to change Leahy's mind about the Shedd hearing. . . . Instead, you should speak with Schumer []. The three of you [Kennedy, Schumer, Durbin] should approach Leahy [].

Posted 10:18 AM by Tony

Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Canterbury Tales Of Moral Relativism

October 15, 2003 (via The Telegraph):

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday urged America to recognise that terrorists can "have serious moral goals".

November 20, 2003 (via Archbishop of Canterbury web site):

Earlier today we heard the news of the latest atrocities in Istanbul and the deaths of some Consulate staff as well as many others in the city. I cannot easily express the shock and grief that I and my family and staff are feeling. Our hearts go out to the families of all who have been killed in these vicious and senseless attacks. These acts of violence achieve nothing but to hurt a whole community of all faiths and none.

[emphasis added]

Question: When does bombing people have "serious moral goals"?

Answer: When the bombing is directed at Americans.
At least, that's what I surmise Dr. William's answer would be.

Mark Steyn takes the good archbishop to task (column at The Telegraph and Jerusalem Post, via Instapundit:

But once in a while, even those in the most hermetically sealed alternative universes enjoy a day-trip to reality. On September 11, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, happened to be in New York, a couple of blocks from the World Trade Centre. Made no difference.

To Dr Williams, the Americans' liberation of Afghanistan was "morally tainted", an "embarrassment", and an example of the moral equivalence between the USAF and the suicide bomber, both of whom "can only see from a distance: the sort of distance from which you can't see a face, meet the eyes of someone, hear who they are, imagine who and what they love. All violence works with that sort of distance.

[ . . . ]

"It is possible to use unspeakably wicked means to pursue an aim that is intelligible or desirable," he said. By ignoring this, America "loses the power of self-criticism and becomes trapped in a selfreferential morality." Perhaps Dr Williams would like to explain what precisely is the "serious moral goal" of the men who killed his host.

Posted 4:53 PM by Tony

North Korean Technology

I never figured I'd be writing about North Korea and technology - the two terms don't really go together, unless the word "nuclear" is in the sentence somewhere. Yet, here we are.

The Korean Central News Agency is the official mouthpiece of the Norks North Korea, and has the following report:

Pyongyang, November 28 (KCNA) -- The International Communications Center of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has kicked off e-mail service. The e-mail service guarantees the privacy of correspondence as it has a network security system.

It has also a large transmission ban, which provides many subscribers with high-speed information exchange at a time.

When a user dials 165 on computer to call e-mail service, he gets connected to international e-mail service system. He then types the user name and password to identify as an authorized user. And he can immediately have access to e-mail box.

The received mails are free of charge.

Technical service on e-mail is also available from the ICC.

[emphasis added]

What "guarantees the privacy of correspondence" means is anyone's guess. There's more background at ZDNet.

My own thought is that this assertion is an imperfect translation of typical North Korean bombast. These kind of one-upmanship games are not uncommon, see, e.g, Ron Gluckman's description of the flags at the DMZ. South Korea's Internet infrastructure has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, making North Korean propaganda in this area almost inevitable. (Oddly, I was unable to find this story on the Korean language version of the KCNA site.)

This KCNA story is best taken with a grain of salt, though rumors of North Korean hacker-soldiers (via Wired) do merit further investigation.

Posted 4:14 PM by Tony

Bizarre City Ordinances

I'm a little curious what evil section 688 of the San Francisco Health Code is designed to address. (You can browse through all SF ordinances here.)

I mean, cigar cutters?

Posted 3:08 PM by Tony

Important Rules

A friend of mine pointed me to these 86 Rules of Boozing, from Modern Drunkard.

These three rules are the most important, as far as I'm concerned:

14. If you offer to buy a woman a drink and she refuses, she does not like you.

15. If you offer to buy a woman a drink and she accepts, she still might not like you.

16. If she buys you a drink, she likes you.

Posted 2:27 PM by Tony

More Fun With Carter Quotes

From the New York Times, via the Contra Costa Times (see also Best Of The Web), there's this gem from Jimmy Carter on the Geneva Accord:

Carter criticized both leaders in the region for not moving forward aggressively to make peace and the Bush administration for what he called its "bias" toward Israel. He speculated that history might have been different if he had been re-elected president in 1980.

"Had I been elected to a second term, with the prestige and authority and influence and reputation I had in the region, we could have moved to a final solution," he said.

[emphasis added]

I suspect that, had this been Reuters (home of the scare quote), there would have been a capital "F" and a capital "S" in that quote.

This is just hilarious.

Posted 2:20 PM by Tony

Monday, December 01, 2003
Quote Of The Day

From the Jerusalem Post, a reaction to Jimmy Carter's condemnation of American support of Israel:

Senior Israeli government officials dismissed Carter's comments as irrelevant. "Does anyone really care what Carter has to say," the official said.

Reminded that the former president is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and as a result enjoys wide spread international recognition and standing, the official said, "Arafat also received the prize, what does it mean?"

The article has a couple other items that reveal why Carter is the most ex- of our ex-presidents.


Carter said that is of equal importance that Palestinians renounce violence against Israeli citizens, but he said this must happen in exchange for commitment to the Geneva Initiative

Translation - It's all right for Palestinians to blow up more Israelis until the Israeli government binds itself to an agreement made by private parties in which that government had no role in negotiating.

Carter has a . . . novel interpretation of agency. I suppose if I came to an agreement with Colby or the vman relating to softwood lumber tariffs, I ought to expect the Canadian and American governments to bind themselves to that agreement.


The former president also called for the implementation of the Saudi Initiative, which called on the Arab world to recognize Israel in return for Israel accepting into its borders the flood of 4 million Palestinians who claim to be refugees.

Translation - In exchange for an influx of a hostile population with a potential number equal to 2/3 Israel's population, Israel gets the benefits of "recognition," whatever those might be. Did I mention that the Palestinians get to keep blowing up Israelis?

I suspect Carter may have hit himself in the head with a hammer a few too many times while building houses for the homeless. That could explain his naivete in negotiating the 1994 accord with the North Koreans.

Update: Shark Blog has more.

Update 2: Text of the accord at Haaretz (with overview here). Curiously, the annexes and maps that are part of the Accord seem to be unavailable.

Posted 4:59 PM by Tony

France Stuff

Two unrelated items of things French:

Item the First

Between the Elf Aquitaine scandal (see e.g., articles in Deutsch Welle and Sunday Business Post), and Executive Life / Credit Lyonnais (see Instapundit), France's political establishment has not had a good year.

Now, French magistrate Thierry Jean-Pierre has written a book on a corruption scandal relating to France's sale of six frigates to the Taiwanese navy (via BBC):

It begins in the late 1980s, when Taiwan, in a state of chronic alarm about the threat from mainland China, is seeking to upgrade its fleet.

Sensing a rare opportunity, the then state-owned French defence electronics company Thomson teams up with the Naval Construction Directorate (DCN) to talk the Taiwanese admirals out of a nearly-completed contract with Hyundai of Korea.

But the admirals need a good reason to opt for France's La Fayette class frigates, which are still at the design stage and actually fail to meet many of Taipei's own specifications.

That reason turns out to be a massive commission.

Not unusual in itself - but then the commissions start to multiply.

A three-armed lobbying operation is put in place. A middleman called Andrew Wang is paid to oil the wheels in Taipei.

The seductively-named Lily Liu undertakes to buy off opposition to the deal in Beijing.

And in Paris, Alfred Sirven, of Elf slush-fund fame, tries to influence former Foreign Minister Roland Dumas via his girlfriend Christine Deviers-Joncour.

[ . . . ]

And yet in France all efforts to cast light on the affair are stymied.

In Taiwan, by contrast, the furore generated by the scandal helped bring down the Kuomintang regime in 2000, and the new government has made sure judges have access to all but the most highly-classified documents.

"The reputation of France has been seriously stained," concludes Mr Jean-Pierre.

"And when I compare our old democracy with Taiwan, a country where martial law was only lifted a short while ago, I am seized by shame."

So where's the unaccounted-for money? That's the $ 454 million dollar question. (calculated via x-rates.)

Item the Second

At the Rugby World Cup semifinals, November 16, England vs. France (via Vodkapundit):

Fox Sports / AP

God bless the English.

(And no, babe pics won't be a regular feature - go to the Gweilo and Tony Pierce for that.)

Update: Make that three items. Merde In France has pictures of Iraqis shooting down a DHL airliner, via Paris Match, which just happened to have people on the scene.

Posted 3:15 PM by Tony


Barry McCaffrey has some major criticisms of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Iraq strategy, and manpower in the Opinion Journal. These two paragraphs hit the heart of the problem:

The inadequate resourcing of the campaign's first phase is linked to a broader problem: The U.S. Army is stretched to the breaking point. We do not need more U.S. troops in Iraq. We do need to increase the active-duty strength of the U.S. Army in order to sustain the current effort in both Iraq and Afghanistan--while remaining prepared to counter North Korea. Many of us are concerned that we won't be able to carry out the strategy we've embarked on in Iraq because we won't be able to sustain it. Next summer, we could be saying that we're breaking the U.S. Army, and that we can't do a third rotation.

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

But none of this gets to the heart of the problem, which is that the U.S. military forces in Iraq are being forced into a drawdown situation. "Iraqification" doesn't address the question of the much broader U.S. Army manpower shortages, and it concerns me that Mr. Rumsfeld himself has said that he fails to see evidence that a shortfall exists. "Iraqification" may prove to be an alibi for broader inaction. Mr. Rumsfeld has so dominated the national security process with the force of his personality that his views on manpower are not being sufficiently challenged in Congress. The Joint Chiefs of Staff will have to candidly face up to this issue in the coming months, notwithstanding the political considerations involved.

I'm not fully convinced that Rumsfeld is in the same mold as Robert McNamara, though the current emphasis on "transformation" does seem a lot like McNamara's "systems analysis" thinking. I'm betting that the issues McCaffrey outlines is going to blow up sometime soon.

Posted 12:36 PM by Tony


Spent this past holiday with relatives who live near Philadelphia. I finally got to try a for-real Philadelphia Cheese Steak at Geno's. That's some good stuff.

In the window was a decal in support of Daniel Faulkner. I'd never seen one of those before - here in the Bay Area, all of the support seems to go the other way.

Posted 11:01 AM by Tony

Bush - For Big Government?

The regular readers of this blog (all one of you) may think that I'm reflexively pro-Bush, which is not an unreasonable conclusion. However, 100 percent congruity between a voter and a politician is just about impossible. While I think the president has been spot on where it comes to foreign policy and defense issues, his economic and social policies have made me profoundly uncomfortable.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute highlights the problem in this Washington Post piece (via Randy Barnett and David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy):

Conservatives used to believe that the U.S. Constitution set up a government of strictly limited powers.

It was supposed to protect us from foreign threats and deliver the mail, leaving other matters to the states or to the private sector -- individuals, families, churches, charities and businesses.

That's what lots of voters assumed they would get with Bush. In his first presidential debate with Al Gore, Bush contrasted his own vision of tax reduction with that of his opponent, who would "increase the size of government dramatically." Gore, Bush declared, would "empower Washington," but "my passion and my vision is to empower Americans to be able to make decisions for themselves in their own lives."

[ . . . ]

Bush and his aides should be worrying about the possibility that libertarians, economic conservatives and fed-up taxpayers won't be in his corner in 2004 in the same numbers as 2000.

Republican strategists are likely to say that libertarians and economic conservatives have nowhere else to go. Many of the disappointed will indeed sigh a deep sigh and vote for Bush as a lesser evil.

I'd be sorely tempted to vote Democrat myself, if the candidate was serious about reducing government expenditures and had a clue about foreign/defense policy.

Posted 10:15 AM by Tony

The Oiiiil

A.F. Alhajji has an interesting opinion piece on Iraqi oil in the Korea Herald:

The irony, however, is that the United States exercised greater control over the Iraqi oil sector under the U.N.'s prewar "Oil-for-Food Program" (in which the U.N., not Saddam Hussein, determined the level of Iraqi oil sales abroad) than it will in any future democratic Iraq. If the Bush administration was seeking stable, secure, diverse and cheap oil supplies, it could have simply lifted the embargos on Libya, Iran, Iraq and Sudan, and let the oil gush.

But America's interest in Iraqi oil was not driven either by economics or energy policy. The Bush administration recognized that, above all, Iraqi oil is a critical geopolitical asset. Whoever controls Iraqi oil controls Iraq.

Saddam's power came from his control of the world's second largest oil reserve. He understood perfectly the role that oil played in his power. Faced with the possibility of invasion and defeat, Saddam threatened to burn Iraq's oil fields. Much of the subsequent destruction and looting of Iraqi oil facilities and pipelines reflects the widespread realization that control of oil means control of Iraq.

As the United States planned its invasion, securing the oil fields became a critical priority. The goal was not increased supplies or reduced prices for Americans, but stripping Saddam of his power and, ultimately, establishing and solidifying a new Iraqi government.

Iraq's future depends directly on the fate of Iraqi oil production. Yet the vagaries of the oil business, particularly in such unsettled conditions, make it hard to see how the Bush administration will be able to achieve its goals in Iraq within the next few years.

[ . . . ]

Iraq needs several years to write a new constitution, establish a legitimate and democratic government, negotiate the distribution of oil revenues among its various regions, enact new investment laws, and make the economy attractive to foreigners. It also needs time to negotiate with the international oil companies and neighboring countries, to perform technical and feasibility studies, and to reconstruct, rehabilitate and explore its oil fields.

So even a three-year time frame seems optimistic, for it assumes that within that period, the occupation will end, Iraqis will establish their own democratic government, and that political stability will be achieved.

Alhajji articulates why the United States must adopt a long-term view in its engagement with Iraq. Every single instance of successful nation-building has involved similar long-term committments. It seems to me that rapid withdrawal from the area pretty much dooms any attempt to form a stable, prosperous and democratic Iraq to failure.

Note to Korea Herald - if the piece argues that the war in Iraq was not driven by oil, then calling it "America's war for oil" is a tad misleading. A curious mistake for "The Nation's No. 1 English Newspaper."

Posted 9:09 AM by Tony

An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at

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