March 2006 Archives

Don't Let the Door Hit You...

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Columnist George Will, not usually known for thinking the difficult isn't worth doing, says it would take "200,000 buses in a caravan stretching bumper-to-bumper from San Diego to Alaska" to deport all the illegal aliens currently in the country.

I say we'd better get started, then.

A Note to the Paris Riot Police

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About those water cannon you're using: add some soap.

Seriously. Those are French students you're hosing down.

Employez le savon. Ils sentent terribles.

Inciting to Yawn

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I'm home from work. I haven't slept yet.

See "Pooped."

Yes

Yes, it's 3am.

Yes, I'm still at the office.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do want to soundly thrash the people responsible for my still being here, thankyouforasking.

Yes, I'm cranky.

70

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Were he still with us, my Dad would be turning 70 years old today.

I miss him an awful lot.

Quote of the Day

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Jay Tea, at Wizbang! writes:

Gravity, you may be the weakest of the four fundamental forces, but you are certainly the cruelest.

Indeed so. I wonder how much longer I'll be able to truthfully claim to be 6'8"?

russemerson: I'm trying to get a router to work properly
[friend]: ah
[friend]: fun
russemerson: it can be interesting.
russemerson: it's like being a detective, without the dead hookers.

Gitmo Document Analysis

As part of Cap'n Ed's Gitmo document study, I volunteered to examine one set of hearing transcripts.

ARB (Administrative Review Board) Transcripts #1, the document set assigned to me, was 202 pages of documents which were unclassified and had the "For Official Use Only" markings stricken. The documents give details of 33 hearings of the military panel which decides whether each particular Guantanamo detainee ought to be released, or should continue being detained.

What the documents I reviewed do not contain is the actual evidence, either classified or unclassified, against the detainee. The hearings reviewed were held, in part, so that the detainee might have an opportunity to make the case that he ought to be released.

In each hearing, the detainee had a representative to assist him in making his case, and a translator was present.

The documents I reviewed thus contained only

  • procedural notes (example: "the Presiding Officer read the hearing instructions to the Detainee and confirmed that the Detainee understood the process.")
  • references to other documents (ex.: "the Designated Military Officer presented Exhibit DMO-1, the Unclassified Summary of Evidence to the Administrative Review Board.")
  • the detainees' statements, written, verbal or both
  • questioning by the "prosecutor" (the "Designated Military Officer") or by the panel of officers making up the Administrative Review Board.

For the purposes of this exercise, I operated under some assumptions:
  • that the translations were accurate,
  • that the detainee would naturally try to put the best possible spin on any statement he made,
  • that the detainee's defense counsel (the "Assisting Military Officer") was acting as a good faith representative of the detainee, and
  • that the evidence against the detainee (classified and unclassified, referred to but not actually contained in these documents), if unrefuted, would warrant continued detention.

This last point is most important, and means that in the absense of any other evidence my default judgement would be to continue detention.

In matters of national security, I am disposed to believe the prosecution. Sorry, that's just the way it is. I was a soldier, and I had a pretty high level security clearance. If that colors my judgement, so be it.

To the results, then. In short: release nine, detain the remaining twenty-four.

Of the 33 hearings detailed in the document set, in sixteen instances the detainee refused to attend his own hearing or to provide a written statement on his own behalf. Because they refused to defend themselves, I went with the default decision to retain them.

Eight additional detainees who chose to argue their cases I deemed worth keeping at Guantanamo. "Yes, I assaulted the guards here, repeatedly" is not the kind of testimony that is going to put you on the fast track to release. Additionally, a number of the statements of these eight were "internally self-contradictory." Bluntly, their stories were changing from one minute to the next. They were lying.

In nine instances, if there was any credibility whatsoever to the detainee's testimony, release might be warranted. Some say they never fought against US forces, other say they did but were regular soldiers, not Al Qaeda. I gave them every benefit of the doubt, but again it must be emphasized: I have not seen the evidence against them.

The very first transcript I read, for instance, was the hearing of a detainee who was 16 years old when captured. Taken at face value, I thought that would be reason to release him. Reading his statement made me think of the 15- and 16-year-old schoolboys who in 1945 were conscripted into the Volkssturm. But bear in mind: there were also fanatical Hitler Youth members in the Volkssturm.

What I'm really trying to get at here is that without the evidence on both sides, including the classified evidence, it is utterly impossible to make a sound judgement of what the detainee's status ought to be. How the people who conducted the original survey arrived — with any confidence — at the results they achieved by examining these same documents simply beggars imagination.

Weird Referrer of the Day

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I do not, in fact, have the answer to the question:

does bird flu start from blowing in chickens butts?

There are some mighty strange people out there.

Disgust and Anger

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Disgusting:

Hecklers harass families of US soldiers killed in Iraq

Five women sang and danced as they held up signs saying "thank God for dead soldiers" at the funeral of an army sergeant who was killed by an Iraqi bomb.

For them, it was the perfect way to spread God's word: America was being punished for tolerating homosexuality.

In my ever-so-humble opinion, the best dancing those women could do would be at the end of a rope.

For the hundreds of flag waving bikers who came to this small town in Michigan Saturday to shield the soldier's family, it was disgusting.

"That could be me in that church," said Jackie Sandler whose son Keith is currently serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

. . .

But it was the callousness and cruelty of harassing the grieving families of soldiers at dozens of funerals across the country that has sparked a grassroots movement of bikers determined to drown out the jeers and taunts.

In Flushing, Michigan they turned their leather-clad backs to the five women and held flags and tarps up so that mourners walking past wouldn't see the signs saying "God hates fags," "fag vets" and "America is doomed."

It's enough to make me want to buy a Harley.

While Westboro's congregation remains stable at around 100 people - most of whom are the extended family of founder Fred Phelps . . .

"Stable" is the last adjective I'd use to describe those dirtbags.

. . . the ranks of the Patriot Guard Riders has swelled to more than 16,000 in just a few months.

The Patriot Guard Riders are to be commended for their actions — as well as for their restraint. I'm not sure I could keep myself from punching Fred Phelps or any of his followers in the face. Or beating them with a tire iron. Some people just need to be horsewhipped. Tar and feathers might be useful, as well.

This country needs an occasional display of righteous anger... and at the moment, I can't imagine a more worthwhile reason.

More analysis at Ace of Spades. **Naughty language warning is in effect.**

As time goes by

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Blogiversary. Third. Just had it a couple days ago.

Deal? Big.

Gitmo Study

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I've completed and submitted my assigned portion of the Gitmo study, as detailed by Cap'n Ed.

I'll post a summary of my results later, if time permits. (I am at work, after all.)

Update: Time hasn't permitted.

Update, 12Mar06: Nope, still no time. Maybe tomorrow, on my day off.

Profs Supremely Wrong

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The Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, which requires educational institutions which take certain types of federal funding to allow military recruiters the same access that any other recruiters are granted.

Those suing to have the law stricken down were the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, a group of law school professors and administrators opposed to the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy, who wished to block recruiters' access [allegedly] on First Amendment grounds (though to be honest, I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb to suspect that they would grasp at any reason at all to oppose the military.)

Unanimously, the Supreme Court ruled against FAIR and in favor of the US government's position.

All of which begs the question: if the members of FAIR were so incredibly wrong — unanimously SCOTUS-ly wrong — on the meaning of the law and the applicability of the First Amendment, then what are they doing teaching Law in the first place?

These are the people producing bumper crops of lawyers every year. What else might they be wrong about? With what are they filling law students' heads?

And, is "SCOTUS-ly" a word?

Discussion and linkapalooza at Protein Wisdom.

Quick Movie Review

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Phantom of the Opera (2004)
(Directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Gerard Butler as The Phantom, Emmy Rossum as Christine, Patrick Wilson as Raoul)

I really identified with the Phantom. Almost completely.

Except for being French.

And all the singing and strangling, of course.

5 Stars.

Digging

Over at Captain's Quarters, Captain Ed is looking for assistance in compiling/analyzing data from the Department of Defense's reports on Guantanamo detainees.

Many hands make light work, as they say. Head over to Ed's, read the background, and if you can lend a hand, let him know.

Sugar Cat - Followup

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We had some tentative good news this week about Mycah's recently diagnosed diabetes.

Mycah went in for a day-long "glucose curve" test, wherein the vets monitor her blood glucose level throughout the day, in an effort to determine what the proper insulin dosage ought to be in order to effectively treat her.

Much to our collective surprise, her levels were within the "good" range (whatever that actually is) and stayed there all day, even without her regular 2pm dose of insulin.* It appears that diet alone might be adequate to treat her.

That's good for me, because at $85/bottle, insulin definitely isn't cheap. But it's even better for Mycah, because it means the diabetes isn't as severe as it might have been. That, and she really loves her prescription catfood (which is actually pretty cheap, particularly when compared to insulin.)

Next week we have scheduled a repeat of the test. We are, of course, hoping that the first test's results are borne out. With luck, there won't be any continuing need for insulin shots.

In any event, she'll still get her occasional treats and frequent skritches.

Hmmmm... I don't recall that the vet prescribed bedrest. Lazy furball.


* Most people with sugar pets dose their kitties in the mornings and evenings, 12 hours apart — 8am and 8pm, for instance. The trouble with that is, I work evenings and nights... so Mycah was getting her shots at 2pm and 2am. It was working out well, but I won't be disappointed if the shots aren't going to be needed.


As always, be sure not to miss the Friday Ark.

Or the Carnival of the Cats, this week hosted at the Houston Chronicle's catblog, Catcall.

You Know (Part 12)

You know, it's probably a good idea to let your dermatologist deal with....

No, no, no — stop right there. This is too thoroughly and disgustingly pseudo-medical. "Puking readers" is not my idea of a good time.

I can state for the record, however, that neither pain nor major orifices were even tangentially involved in the incident which I forbear from describing. Just... eeewww.

Update: As big as a nickel, but spherical. I kid you not.

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