ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Canary Is Starting to Look Ill

While Mark Steyn's America Alone scared the beejeebers out of me, Brian took comfort in the fact that Europe would provide us with enough warning... ie, the canary in the Islamofascist coal mine, if you will. I'm sure you remember his blog post on the subject... err, ummm..... well, no.

It seems that Brian has come down with an addiction to actually working - oh, and playing that online poker stuff. PUT DOWN THE CARDS AND START BLOGGING!!! We've got to fulfill our responsibilities as Citizen Journalists!!! I mean, we've got several thousand ummm, no...

hundred umm, no...

ahem, Our Mom is reading this blog, don't you know?!?!

Enough internal-conspiracy jabs for today...



Anyway, it looks like the Canary in the Coal Mine is starting to look a little under the weather. Check out this lovefest that started off as a multi-cultural, increase our understanding of each other session and turned into a call for holy jihad:

Radicals vs. moderates: British Muslims at crossroads

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNN) -- At a recent debate over the battle for Islamic ideals in England, a British-born Muslim stood before the crowd and said Prophet Mohammed's message to nonbelievers is: "I come to slaughter all of you."
Well, that's always a nice ice-breaker! I'll have to remember that for my next conference...
"We are the Muslims," said Omar Brooks, an extremist also known as Abu Izzadeen. "We drink the blood of the enemy, and we can face them anywhere. That is Islam and that is jihad."

Anjem Choudary, the public face of Islamist extremism in Britain, added that Muslims have no choice but to take the fight to the West.

"What are Muslims supposed to do when they are being killed in the streets in Afghanistan and Baghdad and Palestine? Do they not have the same rights to defend themselves? In war, people die. People don't make love; they kill each other," he said.

But in the same debate, held on the prestigious grounds of Dublin's Trinity College in October, many people in the crowd objected.
How's this for some perspective... perhaps too much f-ing perspective. Trinity College was founded in the old, dilapidated buildings of the monastery of All Hallows in 1592.
"These people, ladies and gentleman, have a good look at them. They actually believe if you kill women and children, you will go to heaven," said one young Muslim who waved his finger at the radicals.

"This is not ideology. It's a mental illness."

'Foreign policy has a lot to do with it'

This war of words is part of a larger debate going on in Britain -- the war within the Muslim community for the hearts and minds of young people. The battle of ideas came to the fore again this week when the trial began for six men who are accused of an "extremist Muslim plot" to target London on July 21, 2005.

The Woolwich Crown Court was told the men plotted to carry out a series of "murderous suicide bombings" on London's public transport system, just 14 days after the carnage of the July 7 London bombings, which killed 52 commuters and four bombers.

While Islamic extremists are believed to be a tiny minority of Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, they have no problem having their criticism heard. They have disdain for democracy -- and, most of all, the Bush administration's war on terror policies.

Yes, whenever I call for the slaughter of innocents in a public forum, the press always characterizes my thoughts as "criticisms." Oh, brother!
A poll taken in June 2006 for the Times of London newspaper suggested that 13 percent of British Muslims believe the July 7 London bombers were martyrs.

"Foreign policy has a lot to do with it," said Hanif Qadir, a youth worker and a moderate voice for Islam in Walthamstow, one of London's biggest Muslim neighborhoods. "But it's the minority radical groups that use that to get to our young people."

In August, British police descended on Walthamstow, saying they had foiled a conspiracy to blow up a dozen U.S.-bound airliners with liquid explosives. That set off the biggest security alert since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Police arrested 24 people in connection with the alleged terror plot, although one man was released after it was determined he was an innocent bystander.

Britain's Scotland Yard and MI5 have also said they are aware of at least 30 terrorist cells and potential plots inside Britain.

'Blowing people up is quite cool'

Young Muslims are easy prey, Qadir told CNN, because they believe the British government crackdown has scapegoated them because of their religious beliefs. The youth also can empathize with those who castigate the Bush administration.

There are some who believe "blowing people up is quite cool," Qadir said.

Qadir asked them why that was justified.

"The answers that I got back is: When a bomb goes off in Baghdad or in Afghanistan and innocent women and children are killed over there, who cares for them? So if a bomb goes off in America or in London, what's wrong with that?" he said.

Qadir is trying to get mosque leaders, many still practicing the tribal traditions of Pakistan, to communicate with the younger generation. But he says it is an uphill battle when radicals like Choudary dominate the debate, getting their faces -- and their message -- out in the public.

"Our scholars ... are not coming out of their holes -- their mosques and their holes -- to engage with these people. They're frightened of that," Qadir said.

Ahh, yes... the problem of the moderate imams being a no-show. It seems to be a pretty common phenomenon.
The message of extremism can also thrive among youth who see no way out of ethnic ghettos.

"They're into all kinds of vices -- street crime, gun crime, drugs, car theft, credit card fraud. But then now you've got another threat," Qadir said.

"The new threat is radicalism. It's a cause. Every young man wants a cause."
The way I see it, these guys slide into depravity in the West, realize that their religion tells them that they won't go to heaven unless they balance out the scales of good & bad in their life, and then get instructions that martyrdom is the surest way to be forgiven of the past sins. In Christianity, the message is that blood was already spilled by Jesus for your sins. In Islam, the message is that it's time to spill some infidel blood.

I'm over-generalizing and this in no way should be considered to be damning of all Muslims who are peaceful. Just saying that the radical extremists are having success in getting "westernized" Muslims to become even more radicalized.

Activist calls for Islamic law

Choudary, whose group Al-Mahajiroun disbanded before the British government could outlaw it under its anti-terror laws, spoke to CNN and made clear he wants to see Islamic law for Britain.

"All of the world belongs to Allah, and we will live according to the Sharia wherever we are," said Choudary, a lawyer. "This is a fundamental belief of the Muslims."

Asked if he believes in democracy, he said, "No, I don't at all."


"One day, the Sharia will be implemented in Britain. It's a matter of time."

Choudary cited the videotaped "will" of one of the London subway bombers, Mohammed Sidique Khan, who said, "Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight."

Choudary said he sides strongly with that statement -- "we have everything we need in those wills" -- and he cited passages from the Muslim holy book, the Quran, that he says justify jihad.

"I happen to be in an ideological and political war," Choudary said. "My brothers in al Qaeda and other Mujahedeen are involved in a military campaign."

While Choudary and other radicals continue to try to spread their beliefs, others say there is no justification for jihad in England. Imam Usama Hasan memorized the Quran by the time he was 11 and at 19, he briefly fought in Afghanistan against the Soviets.

He may be a moderate now, but I wonder what his opinions were when he was 19 and fighting in a foreign land?
"If you have the wrong intention, you can justify your criminal actions from any text -- whether it's the Quran or Bible or Shakespeare," Hasan said.

Perhaps he's right... but I don't see many people taking up Hamlet or Macbeth to justify a radical campaign of terrorism. Just saying...

And, in the final analysis, the West fights in spite of Christ's teachings. Turn the other cheek, the example of Isaac's wells, the Crucifixion, etc, etc...
He said it makes him "furious" when radicals quote the Quran out of context to justify killing of innocents. It's a "very tiny" minority with such beliefs, he said, but "it only takes a handful, of course, to create devastation."

"Many people are terrified of Muslims. They are terrified of a brother walking down the road with his eastern dress and his hat and his beard, because they have seen these images associated with suicide bombers," he said.

"It is up to us to dispel that fear -- to smile at people to tell them that ... the message of Islam is not about bits of cloth. It is not about the beard or head scarf or the face veil or violence. It is about peace."

That's a doozy... I seriously don't know how the tide will turn in Europe.

In my experience, the US is much more tolerant of diversity than Europe... and the Islamic ghettos of Europe is an example of that, although the immigrants certainly play a part in creating that result.

Will the UK wake up to this brewing, internal threat? Or will they ignore it as the French have and hope that the nightly fires will subside?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Flip-Flopping Dems Support The Terrorists

Let's be honest. The entire symbolic Anti-Surge resolution that's being put forward in troops has no purpose other than to undermine our military and our President. Who benefits from such a symbolic proposal? Only the terrorists that are attacking our troops in Iraq.

If the Dems were truly against the surge, they should have the cojones to pull the funding for the troops. But they know the consequences of such a policy and want to have it both ways.

Think I'm full of it? Check out this story from the Washington Times:

Inside the Beltway
By John McCaslin
January 18, 2007

Tough month


On Dec. 5, Newsweek magazine touted an interview with then-incoming House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes as an "exclusive." And for good reason.

"In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq," the story began, Mr. Reyes "said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a 'stepped up effort to dismantle the militias.' "

"We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq," the Texas Democrat said to the surprise of many, "I would say 20,000 to 30,000."

Then came President Bush's expected announcement
last week, virtually matching Mr. Reyes' recommendation and argument word-for-word -- albeit the president proposed only 21,500 troops.

Wouldn't you know, hours after Mr. Bush announced his proposal, Mr. Reyes told the El Paso Times that such a troop buildup was unthinkable.


"We don't have the capability to escalate even to this minimum level," he said.

The chairman's "double-talk" did not go unnoticed. Among others, Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says such blatant "hypocrisy" undermines both national security and the war on terrorism.
And the GOP is right to call him on his unprincipled stance. You would think that our objective, mainstream media would also notice.

heh.

And, more proof that Reyes is a tool is contained in the article:
Unfortunately for the new House intelligence chief, this is his second (some would argue his third) major blunder in the space of one month. When asked by Congressional Quarterly reporter Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda was a Sunni or Shi'ite organization, he answered: "Predominantly, probably Shi'ite."
As Mr. Stein wrote later: "He couldn't have been more wrong. Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shi'ite showed up at an al Qaeda clubhouse, they'd slice his head off and use it for a soccer ball."
The reporter added: "To me, it's like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who's on what side?"

In the same interview, Mr. Stein had asked Mr. Reyes about the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

His now-infamous reply: "Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah? ... Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o'clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?"

This is the 21st century and we're likely to be gripped in the War on Terror for a generation or more... and we have people in power who are totally incurious about the situation.

If the Dems take the White House in 2008 and still retain Congress, we can kiss our country good-bye.

A Message to Mr. Reyes: YOU ARE NOW IN POWER! YOU HAVE TO HAVE IDEAS AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF REALITY, YOU TWIT!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The New Math on Marriage

James Lileks fisks this article pretty well, but I thought I'd add some thoughts as well. Read the full Lileks post here (scroll down to Now Then).

On with my fisking of this piece of junk article:

January 16, 2007
51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse
By SAM ROBERTS

For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.

In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

Golly gee!!! That doesn't sound good. But, gimme some details Old Gray Lady!
Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.

Remember this bit... once we get to the end of the story, you'll understand why this story was given space in the Times.

It's also important to carefully read the title.... this isn't about the % of women that are married, but rather the number of women that are not living with their spouses.
Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.

Ahh, so all of the old widowers widows in the nursing homes, whose husbands kicked the bucket before their wives (as happens to most men), are counted in this stat.
In addition, marriage rates among black women remain low. Only about 30 percent of black women are living with a spouse, according to the Census Bureau, compared with about 49 percent of Hispanic women, 55 percent of non-Hispanic white women and more than 60 percent of Asian women.
Appalling marriage rates in the African-American community, which has significant impacts on their ability to move up to higher income levels, but that's another story.
In a relatively small number of cases, the living arrangement is temporary, because the husbands are working out of town, are in the military or are institutionalized. But while most women eventually marry, the larger trend is unmistakable.

So, the wives of our soldiers in Iraq are counted as "single" by this survey. And those women whose husbands are incarcerated or who are mentally incompetent and in institutions are single, too. And for those whose husbands travel often would be considered single... If your husband is a high-powered exec who travels the world or a traveling salesman, you're "living without a spouse."

I wonder what these women would answer to the question, "Are you married?"
“This is yet another of the inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where we can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people’s lives,” said Prof. Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “Most of these women will marry, or have married. But on average, Americans now spend half their adult lives outside marriage.”

Hmmm.... Council on Contemporary Families. Let's check out some policy positions of this "non-profit." Hmmm.... seems to be a group that is seeking to change the definition of "family" and to undermine the institution. Remember the second excerpt above? It seems that the whole reason that this article was published was to change the way that government classifies families so that benefits can be doled out in a different way.

Back to the story...
Emily Zuzik, a 32-year-old musician and model who lives in the East Village of Manhattan, said she was not surprised by the trend.

“A lot of my friends are divorced or single or living alone,” Ms. Zuzik said. “I know a lot of people in their 30s who have roommates.”

Ms. Zuzik has lived with a boyfriend twice, once in California where the couple registered as domestic partners to qualify for his health insurance plan. “I don’t plan to live with anyone else again until I am married,” she said, “and I may opt to keep a place of my own even then.”

Ahh... the lead example for the NYTimes is a woman model/musician in the East Village of New York. Truly representative of the 117 million American women across the country. I wonder what the marriage rates overall are in Manhattan? Is she the exception for Manhattan or the rule?

And where did I get the 117 million figure? Well, it's right there - in paragraph 21 - of the story! This is the kicker which really blows the story out of the water...
Among the more than 117 million women over the age of 15, according to the marital status category in the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, 63 million are married. Of those, 3.1 million are legally separated and 2.4 million said their husbands were not living at home for one reason or another.

That brings the number of American women actually living with a spouse to 57.5 million, compared with the 59.9 million who are single or whose husbands were not living at home when the survey was taken in 2005.

Some of those situations, which the census identifies as “spouse absent” and “other,” are temporary, and, of course, even some people who describe themselves as separated eventually reunite with their spouses.

Ok, as Lileks points out, it appears that the study is being performed by Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel - at least if we're really considering 15 year old girls as being of marrying age.

But, let's use their assumptions and do some simple math. 63.1 million married women, age 15 to infinity. 3.1 million are legally separated, so we'll count those... 2.4 million said their husbands were not living at home for one reason or another. I assume that the project manager for my consulting gig, who stays in hotels mon-thurs at the customer location,would be included in that number. And I assume that the spouses of our military who may be deployed in the War On Terror would be counted here... Since these people would consider themselves to be married, but due to circumstances beyond their control, not living together, it's incorrect to include these people.

So, 60 million out of 117 million American women are married - or 51%.

Back to the story:
“Since women continue to outlive men, they have reached the nonmarital tipping point — more nonmarried than married,” Dr. Frey said. “This suggests that most girls growing up today can look forward to spending more of their lives outside of a traditional marriage.”
Ahh, the old betties that I pointed out earlier. I doubt that I would consider widowers as women who are "choosing" to live without a spouse.

Now, for some final items of interest in the story:
[...]
“Marriage kind of aged me because there weren’t options,” Ms. Terris said. “There was only one way to go. Now I have choices. One night I slept on the other side of the bed, and I thought, I like this side.”

She said she was returning to college to get a master’s degree (her former husband “didn’t want me to do that because I was more educated than he was”), had taken photography classes and was auditioning for a play.

“Once you go through something you think will kill you and it doesn’t,” she said, “every day is like a present.”
As Lileks points out, the other side of the bed quote is about the saddest thing I've ever heard.

But, let's get to the final quote... Once you get through something that you think will kill you and it doesn't, it's all gravy after that.

For some reason, I have a feeling that her marriage couldn't exactly be characterized as being a happy one. So, is she one of the 21st Century Women that has decided to strike out on her own because she doesn't need no stinking man? Or is she on her own because she married an asshole who couldn't care less about her personal and emotional development?

One final comment regarding the story. As Lileks points out, it took 4 people to write this article which says something about the efficiency of today's newsrooms.
Ariel Sabar, Brenda Goodman and Maureen Balleza contributed reporting.
But, I did some searching on the other authors listed at the bottom.... And surprise, surprise...

Ariel Sabar is also a prominent writer at that mainstream of publications, Mother Jones.

But hey, the New York Times isn't a liberal rag.

How should this study be performed? How about providing more information about the % of women married by age cohort. In terms of the sociological impact of marriage and the changes that should be made in our public policy regarding marriage, the number of widowers living in nursing & retirement homes has little to do with how the government should treat women in traditional families with children.

So, before we go changing public policy to address the "new reality" of women living without spouses, perhaps we should get a study that is actually honest.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Carter a Big Supporter of Hitler's Death Camp Guards

Ahhh, it seems like everything that ever comes out about Jimmah Carter proves the Simpson line, "Jimmy Carter!! He's History's Greatest Monster!"

From Israel:

Exclusive: Jimmy Carter Interceded on Behalf of Nazi SS Guard
18:45 Jan 17, '07 / 27 Tevet 5767
by Ezra HaLevi

A former U.S. Justice Department official disclosed to Arutz-7 that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s advocacy extended beyond the Palestinians, when he interceded on behalf of a Nazi SS man.



Neil Sher, a veteran of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation, described a letter he received from Carter in 1987 in an interview with Israel National Radio’s Tovia Singer. The letter, written and signed by Carter, asked that Sher show “special consideration” for a man proven to have murdered Jews in the Mauthausen death camp in Austria.

“In 1987, Carter had been out of office for seven years or so,” Sher recalled. “It was a very active period for my office. We had just barred Kurt Waldheim – he was then president of Austria and former head of the United Nations – from entering the U.S. because of his Nazi past and his involvement in the persecution of civilians during the war. We had just deported an Estonian Nazi Commandant back to the Soviet Union after a bruising battle after which we were attacked by Reagan White House Communications Director Patrick Buchanan.

“Also around that time, in the spring of 1987, we deported a series of SS guards from concentration camps, whose names nobody would know. One such character we sent back to Austria was a man named Martin Bartesch.”

Bartesch, who had immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Chicago, admitted to Sher’s office and the court that he had voluntarily joined the Waffen SS and had served in the notorious SS Death’s Head Division at the Mauthausen concentration camp where, at the hands of Bartesch and his cohorts, many thousands of prisoners were gassed, shot, starved and worked to death. He also confessed to having concealed his service at the infamous camp from U.S. immigration officials.

“We had an extraordinary piece of evidence against him – a book that was kept by the SS and captured by the American armed forces when they liberated Mauthausen,” Sher said. “We called it the death book. It was a roster that the Germans required them to keep that identified SS guards as they extended weapons to murder the inmates and prisoners.”

An entry in the book for October 10, 1943 registered the shooting death of Max Oschorn, a French Jewish prisoner. His murderer was also recorded: SS guard Martin Bartesch. “It was a most chilling document,” Sher recalled.

The same evidence was used by the U.S. military in postwar trials as the basis for execution or long prison sentences for many identified SS guards.

“We kicked him out and he went back to Austria. In the meantime, his family – he had adult kids – went on a campaign, also supported by his church, to try to get special treatment. In so doing they attacked the activities of our office and me personally. They claimed we used phony evidence from the Soviet Union – which was nonsense. They claimed he was a young man of only 17 or 18 when he joined the Nazi forces, asking for some sympathetic treatment and defense from our office, which they claimed was just after vengeance.”

The family approached several members of Congress. “The congressmen would, very understandably, forward their claims over to our office and when they learned the facts they would invariably drop the case,” Sher recalled.

But there was one politician who accepted the claims without asking for any further information.
[...]
Oh, Jimmy... you anti-Semitic, Terrorist- and Nazi-loving bastard.

And let's just put into the record what exactly transpired at Mathausen. From Wikipedia:
In January 1945, the camps, directed from the central office in Mauthausen, contained roughly 85,000 inmates.[3] The death toll remains unknown, although most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex. The camps formed one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and were the last ones to be occupied by the Western Allies or the Soviet Union. The two main camps, Mauthausen and Gusen I, were also the only two camps in the whole of Europe to be labelled as "Grade III" camps, which meant that they were intended to be the toughest camps for the "Incorrigible Political Enemies of the Reich".[1] Unlike many other concentration camps, intended for all categories of prisoners, Mauthausen was mostly used for extermination through labour of the intelligentsia, who were educated people and members of the higher social classes in countries subjugated by Germany during World War II.[4]

Congratulations, Jimmy! You continue to solidify your legacy as one of the worst President ever!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Marin County Says NIMBY - Ah, The Soul of a "Progressive" Community

From my "other blog"

H/T to The Corner at NRO

Marin County Says NIMBY

NIMBY - not in my back yard

I NEVER post anything of a political nature on this blog (my photoblog). I have other outlets for that sort of thing. But this is so California, the subject of this blog, I have to say something.Some good folks of Marin County, very rich and very "progressive," people who pride themselves on their "concern" for others, at least when someone other than themselves is impacted by that concern, are opposing a 4 house Habitat for Humanity proposal. Why? Worries about traffic... 4 houses???!!! And the effect the project will have on their property values. Look in the dictionary under "hypocrisy."



Crowd Rips Habitat for Humanity Proposal
Jim Staats
Marin Independent Journal
Article Launched:01/17/2007 12:32:33 AM PST

A growing legion of concerned neighbors in unincorporated Strawberry
voiced fear Tuesday of increased traffic and decreased home values if a Habitat
for Humanity housing development comes to the Eagle Rock neighborhood.

"It's a very, very poor place to jam four more homes like a housing
project," said Eagle Rock Road resident Debra Dealey. "And it diminishes the
value of our homes." Dealey was among about 80 people squeezed into the tiny
loft at the Strawberry Recreation Center in Mill Valley for an informational
community meeting on the project moderated by the Strawberry Design Review
Board. Echoing comments of several neighbors, Dealey described the entire
project "out of character with our neighborhood."

The San Francisco affiliate of the international organization that
builds affordable houses for low-income families has partnered with the owner of
a 16.5-acre vacant lot near the intersection of North Knoll Road, Bay Vista
Drive and Eagle Rock Road to build four affordable, single-family houses. The
proposed units would be the county's first Habitat homes. The organization
closed its Marin affiliate in the late 1990s after failing to get sufficient
community support to build Habitat houses in Marin.

The property owner, Pan Pacific Ocean Inc., plans to divide the tract
into seven parcels, building three market-rate single-family houses ranging in
size from 6,244 square feet to 7,446 square feet on lots at the top of the
sloping site. The remaining .85 acres would be used by Habitat to build four
three-bedroom houses of about 1,435 square feet, including a single-car garage.
Each Habitat house would be priced for a family of four with an annual income of
$56,000. Habitat for Humanity San Francisco executive director Phillip Kilbridge
addressed community concerns over long-term goals of its prospective homeowners.

"This is not a get-rich-quick scheme," he said. "These are for households
truly dedicated in making a difference in the community. The exact reasons you
are living there are the reasons why we want our families to live there. We can
make this four-home unit work." Johanna Patri, acting principal planner
with the county who is assigned to the project, said county officials "will be
taking into consideration all the comments of the neighborhood." She said the
project will then come back before the Strawberry Design Review Board.
Following the design review process, the project would go before the county
Planning Commission.

More than 70 residents of the neighborhood, near both Tiburon and Mill
Valley, have started to band together to raise about $100,000 for attorneys'
fees to fight the project. Neighborhood opposition is centered on lower property
values, increased traffic and parking congestion. Ed Sotelo, 83, said his main
concern was increased traffic generated by the seven new houses near an
intersection he described as a "killer corner." "Whether it's a big house or a
small house this is a dangerous situation," said Sotelo, a 50-year Eagle Rock
resident who lives on North Knoll Road across from the proposed site.

Scott Lebus, an orthodontist whose practice is in a nearby medical
building on North Knoll Road, said "those of us who work and live there know
it's not a great site for new homes." "There is no question there is a severe
shortage of affordable housing, but don't take a situation and make it worse to
improve something else," Lebus said. Bay Vista Drive resident Bill Duane, 58, a
frequent Habitat for Humanity volunteer in Florida before moving to Eagle Rock
in 1999, described the project as "a good idea gone completely wrong." "To me
it's totally against the intentions of Habitat for Humanity as I know it," he
said before Tuesday's meeting. "The intention always was to go into a blighted
neighborhood and enhance it. The end result here is the opposite. It's a lot of
good intentions gone horribly wrong."


Disgusting


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Culture of Corruption & Lobbying Reform

It seems that the Dems aren't too keen on one aspect of reforming the Culture of Corruption.

From today's Washington Post:

Lawmakers' Lobbying Spouses Avoid Hill Reforms

By John Solomon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 17, 2007; A01

When Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) rose to the Senate floor last summer and passionately argued for keeping the federal estate tax, he left one person with an interest in retaining the tax unmentioned.

The multibillion-dollar life-insurance industry, which was fighting to preserve the tax because life insurers have a lucrative business selling policies and annuities to Americans for estate planning, has employed Dorgan's wife as a lobbyist since 1999.

A few months earlier, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) had pleaded for restraint as she urged colleagues to avoid overreacting to the news that the Bush administration had let a United Arab Emirates company take over operations at six U.S. ports. At the same time, her husband, Robert J. Dole, a former senator and presidential nominee, was registered to lobby for that company and was advising it on how to save the deal from the political firestorm.

At least half a dozen congressional spouses have jobs as registered lobbyists and several more are connected with lobbying firms, but reining in the practice to prevent potential conflicts or the appearance of them has not been a priority among congressional leaders. Even modest proposals such as banning wives and husbands from lobbying their spouses or using their spouses' floor privileges for lobbying have gone nowhere.

Democrats made ethics reform a major issue in last fall's congressional elections, but the ethics package the House approved earlier this month didn't address the issue and neither did the one proposed by Senate Democrats. Last week, however, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) proposed banning spouses of senators from lobbying any part of the chamber. The lone exception is for spouses who were lobbying at least one year before their husband or wife was elected.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the legislation as soon as today. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called Vitter and said he would support the proposal with one caveat: It should exempt spouses who are already lobbyists.

"As long as it is not retroactive, Senator Reid supports efforts to ban spouses of sitting members from lobbying in the future," spokesman Jim Manley said. Vitter said he will not support Reid's proposal. "I think this goes to one of the fundamental issues in this whole debate and that is officeholders using their office to increase their personal and family income. It doesn't get any more basic than that," Vitter said.

Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that studies political donations and ethics in Washington, said that if senators decide that a lobbying ban is necessary, it makes no sense to exempt current spouses.

"If there is a problem here, it is that family members can get access to lawmakers that other people don't. And if they exempt the current spouses, then they are making it all the more exclusive. Those family members will seem all the more special."

Vitter's legislation does not apply to the House. It also does not address lawmakers' siblings and children, another growth area in lobbying. Vitter said he wanted to make the plan broader but was not assured of a vote, so he scaled it back to Senate spouses.

Elected to the Senate in 2004, Vitter took an initial foray into ethics reform more than a year ago, proposing the spousal lobbying ban as well as the end of large tribal donations like those seen in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. But his plans went nowhere when his own party was in charge.

Vitter had garnered scrutiny during the scandal when it was learned that, as a House member in 2002, he had written a letter opposing a casino for an Indian tribe that rivaled Abramoff's clients. Vitter had taken donations from Abramoff's tribal clients but had refunded the money. He said he always has opposed gambling.

With Democrats in control of Congress and promising broad ethics reform, Vitter tried again. Last week the Senate rejected another of his proposals -- one to end the practice of lawmakers hiring relatives and paying them with Senate office, campaign or political action committee money.
[...]

Now, the practice of congressional spouses lobbying the congress is terrible and I applaud Vitter for putting his proposal forward. I hope that a similar effort is made in the House. If the GOP doesn't push the Dems on this issue, they'll miss an opportunity to return to power.

But the most important point that I'd like to make regarding lobbying reform is this... If you truly want to reduce the amount of lobbying that is done within Washington, you have to reduce the size and scope of the government. When the government gets into issues which will impact business and the personal lives of individuals throughout the country, people and businesses are obligated to attempt to find an audience for their preferences.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, January 15, 2007

Secure & Hold - Successful in Increasing Security

Little noticed news about the success of secure & hold in Anbar province over the past month. Also, if you have any questions about the effectiveness of a mere 20,000 troops in Baghdad and Al-Anbar province, read this post by MontereyJohn which provides some clarification of the impact. While Lawrence O'Donnell instructed his political comrades to equate a 20,000 troop surge to just 5,000 additional troops within the whole of Iraq (not sure of his math or his method, but that's what he said), the 20,000 are likely to have a significant impact - if allowed to act accordingly.

Anyway, this article from Al-Anbar province contains some encouraging, pre-surge news:

US Marines build sand walls in latest Iraq tactic
by Jennie Matthew-Thu Jan 11, 12:55 PM ET

Adapting ideas tracing back from ancient history to modern Israel, US Marines have sealed off flashpoint towns with sand walls in a new counter-insurgency tactic to quell the wilds of western Iraq.

Driving across the desert to Haditha, one of the war's deadliest and most infamous battlefields, the grey plain suddenly collapses into a ditch and rises into an intimidating 12-foot (around four-metre) bank of bulldozed sand.

This is bleak territory in Al-Anbar province, bordering on Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Freezing wind howls across the desert in winter. The summer sun is merciless, sand storms a constant curse.

Scores of American soldiers have been killed around Haditha in the four years since the US invasion. The area has been terrorised by Al-Qaeda fighters who reportedly roam large, beheading civilians to impose fundamentalism.

Haditha has become even more notorious in the West since US Marines sowed their own brand of terror by killing 24 Iraqis after one of their buddies was ripped apart by a roadside bomb in 2005. Murder charges have been pressed.

When 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines deployed to western Al-Anbar from Hawaii in mid-September they sustained casualties in Haditha every day for 45 days. Then on November 10, gun battles in the town stopped.

Captain Matthew Tracy, whose marines patrol Haditha, attributes the lull to a local strongman, a former officer in the Saddam Hussein army known simply as Colonel Faruq, with the power and charisma to bring the town to heel.

Provided, that was, the Marines built a defensive sand wall sealing off Haditha from the porous desert, with checkpoints and traffic restrictions.


So last month, "berms" stretching 20 kilometres (12 miles) were built around Haditha and two neighbouring towns to cut off insurgent supply lines. A simultaneous US-led raid left dozens of insurgents dead or captured.

Despite an injection of extra forces, Marines are stretched thin across the enormity of Al-Anbar, one of the most violent provinces of Iraq. In principle, berms restrict enemy movement without wasting precious human resources.

Today there is one road in and one road out of Haditha. Iraqi police, backed up by US Marines in a bunker, check all travellers and search all vehicles. There are metal wand detectors, mirror plates and bomb sniffer dogs.

Anyone wanting to leave needs written permission signed by the US marines. Supply convoys are admitted subject to search, but American officers say few truck loads dispatched by the central government make it this far west.

ID cards are scrutinized and travellers questioned. A town census means the authorities know who lives here and who doesn't. A total ban on vehicle traffic in town has ended car bombings, suicide car bombings and drive-by shootings.

"In mid-September there were 10 to 13 attacks per day in the triad, although the enemy was concentrated in Haditha. Now there is one every two to three days," says Major Kevin Matthews in the sand-bagged US base downtown.

Outside, shopkeepers stand stony faced as a US patrol creaks over the pot-holed main street. Shepherds tend to their muddy flocks. Children look fearful. A few women brave the shops, peering anxiously behind their hijab.

Residents, whose sympathy for the pro-Saddam insurgency runs high, if doctored by fear of Al-Qaeda, are caught between welcoming the security improvement and frustration at the restrictions imposed by the "occupiers".

It takes an average of 40 minutes to cross the checkpoint heading out of town. "That's a shorter time than trying to drive to work in New York," smiles Second Lieutenant Andy Frick who helped design the wall.

Expect that Haditha isn't New York. The district population is only 80,000. For calm to return properly, more Iraqi police than the current 120 need to be recruited. Reconstruction needs to happen. A city council needs to be elected.

That all this happened after the Americans first arrived in 2003, only to end in a bloodbath when Marines were sent to east to Fallujah for a massive assault on insurgents in November 2004, underscores the fragility.

As soon as the Americans left, Al-Qaeda gunmen ambushed and killed 21 Iraqi policemen in Haditha. Gunmen rounded up 19 men in a football stadium and put a bullet through their skulls. This year, nine Haditha policemen were beheaded.

"It's like a man trying to establish a relationship with a woman who's been severely hurt two or three times. I've got to convince you not all men are terrible. It's about creating warmth and security," says Tracy.

"That's why the idea of leaving or pulling out is so appalling."
[Note to John Murtha]

The berming of Haditha, neighbouring Haqlaniyah and Barwanah took the lead from Anah, elsewhere in Al-Anbar, where similar defences proved successful.

While some officers recognise similarity with Israel's separation barrier in the occupied West Bank in terms of the same stated goal of keeping "bad guys out" many are wary about drawing too close a politically explosive analogy.

"What surprises me is how much the Iraqis look at that. 'You ought to do what the Israelis do. If someone plants an IED, you should bulldoze their house'," says Lieutenant Colonel Jim Donnellan, US Marine commander of Haditha.

"Probably some of it does come from Israel, or at least the ideas behind it. We use the same bulldozers as they do, although I think we're a little more gentle. We don't run over any homes," says Frick.

Colonel W. Blake Crowe, the overall US commander for western Al-Anbar, calls them gated communities and likens them to the walls around Biblical Jericho. Tracy compares them to Neolithic barricades built to keep out nomadic nvaders.
Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day, let's renew our faith and desire for the vision that Dr. King set out. And let's heap scorn on those that would divide and balkanize us for their own political and economic gain.

And let's recognize the success of minorities in this great country, from Supreme Court justices to the highest Cabinet posts in the Bush administration to the giants in media and pop culture.

A reprise from last year:

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!³

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jack Murtha is a Jackass, Part Deux

Jack Murtha on ABC's This Week With George Snuffaluffagus. Audio here, fast forward to 12:00:

This is the most intensive combat I've seen since maybe some of the combat in Iwo Jima or some of those places in World War II. They can't take this kind of combat for an extended period.
Murtha is not only slandering the brave men & women serving our country by saying that they can't handle the operation in Iraq, but he goes on to slander past heroes who served in combat from the sands of Iwo Jima to sands of Iraqi Freedom.

Does Murtha not know about the sacrifices at Okinawa where from March to June 1945, the Allied forces had over 12,000 KIAs in the span of 85 days?

Is he seriously comparing the combat experienced by our heroes in Korea (where we lost 54,000 men over the span of 3 years?)

Or the brave men who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam (to the number of over 58,000 KIA and 14,000 MIA) during the 10+ year conflict?

Jack Murtha is a Jackass... and it's amazing that the people of Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District think that he's fit to represent them. Each and every time that he open's his mouth, he demonstrates that he has little grasp of reality.



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler