Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How to Fix a Partisan Leak

Step 1. Release the whole thing.

We'll see whether the media played it straight or slanted. Any bets?

Step 2. Prosecute the leaker. Hey, if revealing the identity of a former undercover agent was such a big deal, then surely leaking current intelligence estimates is equally as bad, if not worse. I'm waiting for the chorus of Democrats to swing into action demanding that the Security of our Nation be protected from partisan politics.

I'm waiting, but I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by Rich
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George Allen vs Robert Byrd

One rode with the Klan as an Imperial Cyclops and claimed he would rather see America destroyed than to integrate the military.

The other is accused of using the word "nigger."

Which one would you vote for?

Posted by Rich
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I Must Come Clean

The current flap over whether or not George Allen used a certain word 20 years ago has led me to scrutinize my past for any verbal indiscretions I may have uttered over the last 4 decades.

Although my memories of the 60s are pretty hazy, I feel relatively certain that impolite words did not pass my lips during that time period without incurring swift and sure retaliation from my parents. I assure you that I paid for those words dearly.

However, I must report that on at least 3 occasions through the 1980's, I did in fact use a derogatory term, at the time widely accepted, but now utterly banned from polite conversation.

I called a classmate of mine a fart smeller.

I know, I know, it was hateful of me, and unkind, and totally unwarranted, because my classmate did not smell farts, he smelled like a fart.

I abjectly apologize for my use of the phrase, and can only plead youthful indiscretion, in hopes that my current friends and acquaintances will understand and accept that I truly have nothing against fart smellers.

Posted by Rich
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If I’d a Know’d It Twas That Easy…

...I'd have done it a long time ago.

I've always likes the catchy little icon looking thingy that some website have on their title bar, and on the address bar of my browser, but I didn't know how to get one of my own.

Today, I figured out how to do it by looking at the source code of a couple of pages that have it. It was really pretty simple. I created the image I wanted in Photoshop, then sized it to 30x30, and renamed it as an ico file. I uploaded it to my host, and added a line of code to my page and walla! Here's the code, for anyone else who wants to look like one of the cool kids:

‹link rel="SHORTCUT ICON" href="http://addy to your image/name of image.ico" ›
(Thanks to justin, who showed me how to make the code actually show up.)

That's all it took!

Can you tell I'm easily amused?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, September 25, 2006

Binary Thinking and Fundamentalism

"You're either with us or against us..." President George W Bush, Nov 6, 2001

How many times have we heard those on the left criticize President Bush for this kind of thinking?

"That kind of either-or binary logic is too simplistic for today's world," they tell us. "It isn't realistic to apply that kind of absolute values based thinking. Our approach must be more nuanced."

It's black or white vs. shades of gray.

Good and evil vs. moral relativism.

Yes or no vs. maybe, maybe not.

You usually only find thinking like this when dealing with fanatics or religious fundamentalist zealots, which is why I was surprised during my debate on the Geneva Conventions last week to find so many of those arguing against me using binary logic. Over and over again, I was accused of supporting torture when I never said anything of the kind. All I did was question whether we should apply the Geneva Conventions to people who were explicitly denied coverage by the Conventions themselves, and for that horrible crime, I was called a sociopath, among other things.

It was as if those on the other side of the debate couldn't conceive of any position between the two; you were either for universal application of the Geneva Conventions or you supported stubbing cigarettes out on somebody's testicles.

Sorta makes you wonder who the fundamentalists really are...

Posted by Rich
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Clinton Erupts.  Again. (Revised for clarity)

I missed the interview. OK, it was more like I dodged it, but I did get to see it on instant replay as everybody and his brother linked to different bits of the Chris Wallace interview. I've looked at them all, and I have to say I'm surprised.

Not that Clinton erupted, but that everybody else seems so surprised by it. It's a tactic he's used repeatedly against the press. When asked an embarrassing question, instead of answering, he attacks. The first time I remember him doing it was early in his first term, when he was asked why he referred to the Republican supported budget as "spending cuts", when they were really just smaller increases. His response was to turn the question on the reporter by barking out, "Why do you call them cuts?" all the while jabbing that finger forward.

So his antics with Matthews didn't surprise me a bit.

I was a little bit surprised at how easily debunked his assertions turned out to be; he's usually better than that, even when speaking off the cuff.

Posted by Rich
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Blogfest Reminder

WHAT: Blogfest Fall 2006

WHEN: Saturday, Sep 30 at 6PM until they kick us out or I start singing Karaoke

WHERE: Barley's Pizzeria in the Old City

WHO: Everybody who blogs, reads blogs, wants to blog, thought about blogging, or just happens in off the street, along with all family, friends, and any single women age 35-45 who aren't too picky about the company they keep.

WHY: To prove that you're not all figmen of my imagination.

So far I have about a dozen people who've let me know one way or another that they are coming so we should have a good time. For those of us without curfews or kids, the band Infradig will be playing starting at 10PM.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Interrogation, Torture, and the Geneva Conventions

I just got into a long debate over at Knox Views about defining the difference between torture and interrogation, based on this post by R. (IANWTCHR) Neal

I'm reproducing one of my last comments here, because I think it provides a critical perspective on the question:
OK, since we're having trouble defining the differences between interrogation and torture, let's change our approach a little. Government is above all a practical business. Debating ideas is all well and good, but you have to take actions based on those ideas, and those actions will have consequences.

So let's take a look at them.

Assume for the sake of argument that our captured subject is an al Qaida operative with knowledge of an imminent attack on American soil that will kill a large number of American citizens. He is our only lead on the operation, and getting information from him represents our only chance to save American lives. For this argument, we will state that the captive, despite not fitting the description of a lawful combatant will be treated in full accordance with the Geneva Conventions. Art. 17 of the Conventions states that POWs shall not be subjected to any coercive treatment of any kind in order to elicit information.

You're the President. How many American lives will you sacrifice to continue to extend protections he does not qualify for to this man? This is the question that the President faces every day. Not John McCain. Not Colin Powell. Not Condoleeza Rice. Not any of the other experts, talking heads, and commentators. The President, whoever is sitting in the chair at the time, has the awesome responsibility of balancing American ideals with American lives.

So ask yourself, how many American lives are you willing to sacrifice to extend Geneva Convention protections to a man who by definition does not rate them?

1?

100?

1000?

10,000?

I haven't gotten any answers to that question yet, nor do I really expect them. It's more of a thought experiment than a question to answer.

But here's the thing; if you try to dodge the question, to twist away from the awful implications it poses, then you aren't really qualified to understand what President Bush is trying to do.

Because the way I phrased it is the way our President must see it, otherwise he wouldn't be doing his job. He has to decide how to apply our principles, and the consequences of those decisions are his alone to bear. He knows that if we miss a scrap of information, it could cost American lives.

I know that if I were in his position, I'd want every scrap of power I could ethically get my hands on to elicit that information, because, as some on the left are so fond of reminding us, even one innocent life lost is too many.

But maybe that's just me.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

BlogFest!

What: A meeting of East Tennessee bloggers, and any other bloggers who want to make the trip.
When: September 30, 6PM till we get thrown out
Where: Barley's in the Old City
Why: To see what the folks behind the opinions look like
Who: Bloggers, commentors, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, significant others, insignificant others

We haven't had a full fledged BlogFest in a couple of years, and the RTB has grown explosively since the last one. Here's a chance to get to meet the folks behind the posts that make you laugh or tear out your hair.Good food, good times, lots of conversation, at least before the band starts up, at which pint there will be good music.

Come on out and let's have some fun. Leave a comment here if you're coming so I can let Barley's know ahead of time how many to expect.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Rosie O’Donnell and Fundamentalism

A few days ago, Rosie made the claim that Christian Fundamentalism was just as dangerous in this country as Islamic Fundamentalism.

An odd statement coming from her, since an Islamic fundamentalist state would have executed her by stoning long ago, and here in Jesusland, we give her millions of dollars to be on a talk show.

Of course, she wasn't speaking in isolation. Many on the left say the same thing, that fundamentalist Christians are just as dangerous as Islamic jihadists intent on placing the whole world under their version of sharia. And they are all completely wrong. In fact, they couldn't be more wrong.

Let's look at the evidence.

When was the last government sanctioned stoning of an adulteress in America? Or how about the last government execution of a homosexual? Let's talk about honor killings for a moment. How many Christian families have killed their daughters for the horrendous crime of being the victim of rape? Or for falling in love with the wrong guy?

Obviously, at least to the unclouded mind, there is a deep difference between the American fundamentalist Christian and the Islamic fundamentalist. American fundies condemn behavior; Islamic fundies execute those who misbehave.

Now comes the interesting question; why the difference? After all, the laws given in the Old Testament books are just as intolerant and bloody as the Koran. Eye for an eye and all that stuff. So why are fundamentalist Christians not rioting in the street whenever their God is insulted or maligned? Why aren't they out killing rape victims. And when one does go nuts and kills an abortion provider, for example, the fundies almost unanimously denounce the act, and repudiate the murderer.

You just don't see that in Islam.

The difference is that Christians have another book. The Old Testament represents the old law, under the Covenants made with Abraham and Moses. It sets the stage for the coming of Christ the Redeemer, whose sacrifice freed us from the shackles of the Old Covenant, and made for us a New Covenant, one based on love, not laws.

There is no Islamic equivalent to this New Covenant.

Posted by Rich
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Not Tagged But I’m Playing Anyway:All About Blog

Barry wrote one a few days ago, and even though he didn't tag me with it, probably 'cause I don't play tag very well, this one, I want to play with. (My high school English teacher must be spinning in her grave right now...) I've been too serious lately, and it's time to lighten up a bit.

1) Are you happy/satisfied with your blogís content and look?

Content, absolutely. I happen to belive that I am the best blogger working on this blog, so of course I'm happy with the content.

Look, nope. I've played with the template, and messed around with it from time to time, but I've come to realize that I have absolutely no design sense at all. No matter what I do to it, it still looks clunky and amateurish to me. Maybe some day some very generous web designer will stumble upon Shots and give it an extreme makeover, to bring the presentation up to the level of the content. Of course, there are some critics who claim this is already the ca, and that the content itself is clunky and amateurish, but I ignore them.


2) Does your family know about your blog?

Yep, and some of them actually read it! One of the coolest things about running this blog is that I'm normally a very private person. I never really talked much or voiced my opinion on issues. And I certainly wouldn't do so in a public forum. Heck, the few times I tried to call in to a radio show, I got so nervous I could barely even speak.

But now? Hold on to your shorts, folks, because I'm loud and live!


3) Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?

Nope, although I did get a couple of surprises when people I knew began reading it. Back when I worked for an employer, I kept quiet about it, especially since I did blog regularly at work. If I had a few minutes free, I could dash off a quick post a la the Blogfather and then get back to work. But eventually my style changed, and I became more of a thinker than a linker, and my posts got longer. That effectively ended my work blogging, except on my lunch hour.

Even though I may have been surprised when I found out somebody was reading me, I can't remember ever being embarrassed by something I wrote. What I write here is as truthful as I can make it.


4) Did blogging cause positive changes in your thoughts?

Yes. It got me back into the habit of organizing my thoughts into a presentable form. In high school, I had to write two analytical papers each week for English class. One would be out of class, the other an in class paper. The in class paper taught me to be able to marshal the facts and present them in a logically connected sequence in order to prove my point. Since you only had an hour to construct and present your argument, you had to train your mind to think that way. (Incidentally, that's a far more important skill than learning not to end a sentence with a preposition, and was probably the purpose of stressing the in class writing.) Since most of my blogging, this post for instance, is done off the cuff with little or no review, I had to return to the same mindset, which clarifies my thought processes on matters other than blogging.

5) Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or do you love to go and discover more by yourself?

If I did, I would never visit many other blogs! For whatever reason, I don't get a lot of comments here. That does bug me, but I'm not sure what I can do about it.

But for my part, I visit other blogs based either on links from other blogs I read daily, or from searches as I look up reference material for a post. Rarely, I'll find a blog through a random search.


6) What does a visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one on your blog?

I got rid of my visitor counter, and pulled out of TTLB's ecosystem. I was getting aggravated because my status was bouncing around, and I wasn't growing like I wanted. I started trying to write for numbers instead of for fun, and this started to feel like work instead of fun.

So I junked the whole thing.

I check my stats with the programs Hosting Matters provides, and even after I subtract the spammers and the bots, I still have a healthy amount of traffic, so I get a little ego boost there. More importantly, I can monitor my bandwidth, and see if I have a problem. A few months ago, I had to delete a lot of pictures I posted for a 9/11 memorial because they had been hot linked on MySpace sites, and my bandwidth was going through the roof.


7) Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

Nope. I try to meet them in person if at all possible. I also like it when they have a picture of themselves on their blog. It does make for a connection, although I understand how this would be difficult for anonnybloggers.

Having said that, I guess I need to get a current picture of me on my blog. Yeah, the Navy Boot camp portrait looks good, but that was, ummm, 22 YEARS AGO!?!? It doesn't seem like it was that long ago to me.

One of the things I did when we first got this blogging thing rolling was organize a few blogger meets. The first one was very small, just me, Glenn Reynolds, and another blogger who retired from the fray shortly thereafter. The next two were progressively larger, and I met a lot of very nice people, including Barry, Les, Uncle, and Bjorn and Brehd of Knoxpatch. And I can't forget Jason and Troy, and Justin, as well as Mr. R. Neal.

Unfortunately, the next few meet-ups got progressively smaller, due to other commitments, like babies, jobs, and political isolationism, so I stopped organizing them. There have been a couple of small meet-ups since then, usually organized around a firing range or a protest line, but no pure blogger fests.

I think it's time to change that. It's time to have a mother of a blow out featuring the East Tennessee wing of the RTB. So, I'm proposing that we have a blogfest Friday, September 30th. The Vols are out of town that weekend, so we should be able to get a spot with no problem. I'm figuring on a start time of 6-6:30PM, and we'll go until the last person is arrested, or thrown out. Leave a comment below if you're interested, or send me an email.

Let's see what we all look like beneath the photoshopped pictures.


8) Admit it. Do you think there is any real benefit in blogging?

Without question. Aside from the undeniable impact blogging has had exposing the way the MSM works, it has provided the average citizen with a direct line to Washington. The new bills giving transparency in budgeting and appropriations would never have passed without bloggers. It has also turned the information flow from a trickle down model to a waterfall. Before blogs, our only source of information was what the MSM editors decided to share with us. Now, if we want to know what is happening in Iraq, we can supplement that view with first hand stories from Iraq, written by the folks who are there. Never before in our history have we had access to so many primary sources.

But there's a much more important benefit. Blogging connects people who would otherwise never connect. When you engage with that many other people, all of whom are very vocal in sharing their beliefs and opinions, it cannot help but to broaden your range of experiences and knowledge.


9) Do you think that bloggerís society is isolated from the real world or interaction with events?

Absolutely not. Poli-bloggers in particular are driven by current events. They have to stay up to date if they want to be able to write. And personal bloggers are usually sharing themselves to a degree unheard of in the flesh world. They share their triumphs and sorrows with the entire world, instead of just a few close friends. And the world usually responds. You can't get more connected than that.

A while back, John Brunner wrote
The Shockwave Rider a book that examined a future society tat was fragmented and disconnected by data overload. His scenario may very well have been close to accurate, but I think blogging, and other internet communities, are inhibiting that process. People connect in a real way over the internet, and most of them use the web to augment personal contact, not replace it. And that's pretty cool.

10) Does criticism annoy you or do you feel itís a normal thing?

I want criticism. I want to talk to people that disagree with me. They are the only ones that have anything to teach me, and vice versa. If the only folks I talk to are folks who agree with me, I might as well be talking to myself.

And that gets boring after a while.


11) Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?

Fear, no. Avoid, yes. If they have nothing to offer but name calling, hate and anger, I don't waste my time. They have nothing to teach me.

12) Were you shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

Nope. Blogging threatens a lot of people, so it's natural to expect them to respond.

13) What do you think will happen to your blog after you die?

As I go, I pick out the posts I like the best and archive them. Sometimes I'll edit them to make them a little clearer or to remove errors, and sometimes I'll do some fairly extensive revisions as needed. At the end of the year, I gather all the archived posts, format them into essay form, and then print and bind them in book form, so there will be something tangible when I'm gone.

The blog itself will disappear.


14) What song do you like to hear? What song would you like to link to on your blog?

I don't know. I haven't written it yet.

Posted by Rich
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Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners

Sen John McCain has sponsored a bill that would ensure that captured terrorists would treated in full accordance with the Geneva convention.

I'm all for it.

By the way, the Geneva Convention says that you execute combatants captured while out of uniform. And since that covers all terrorists, like I said, go for it.

Of course, McCain reads the Geneva convention a little bit differently. He ignores all the parts dealing with the treatment of "irregulars" and wants to treat all captured terrorists as soldiers. Of course, Iran, Syria, and the other terrorist breeding states haven't signed the Geneva Conventions, so I highly doubt our soldiers can expect similar restraint on the part of their captors.

But that doesn't matter to McCain.

Other Senators have signed on to support the measure, saying they are afraid our captured soldiers will be treated more harshly if we continue our current methods. I'm really not sure how it can get any harsher than decapitation on camera, but that's what they say they're afraid of.

Maybe the jihadis will force our soldiers to watch 12 straight hours of Rosie O'Donnell on the view before executing them. That would certainly be cruel punishment.

So, if you're keeping score at home, so far, we've shut down our monitoring of terrorist communications into the US, shut down our monitoring of their money flows, and now we want to shut down our programs to get information from captured terrorists.

It's hard to win a fight blindfolded and with both arms tied behind your back.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Repeating the Past

I'll go on record right now and say that Dems will win control of the House, Senate, and White House in 2008.

And here's why.

Republicans are beginning to position themselves to run away from President Bush. The strategy appears to be this: "Voters have has eight years of President Bush, and they'll want a change. They are tired of the fighting, the partisan rancor, and they want a fresh face in Washington, one without all the baggage. The only way we can win is if we represent ourselves as that fresh face."

Sound familiar to anybody?

It's the same strategy that cost Al Gore the White House.

All the Dems will have to do is run a halfway competent campaign while the Republicans rip themselves to shreds.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Corker Will Lose

Anybody who runs on a campaign of "Vote for me because I've never been to Washington" immediately arouses my suspicions. Having been burned by the ultimate inside-outsider, Ross Perot, I'm leery of supporting a candidate who makes that the centerpiece of his campaign. During the primary campaign, Bob Corker did nothing to change my opinion. I saw him much the same as I saw George W. Bush prior to his winning the nomination; a political lightweight forced on Republican voters by the party power brokers.

The difference is that now, during the election campaign, Corker is showing that I may have overestimated his abilities. Where he appeared to be a slick little hustler, successfully tarring his opponents for winning elections that he lost, now he looks like an incompetent hustler, unable to distract his mark while picking his pockets.

He'll lose, and even though I detest the hypocrisy of Harold Ford Jr, I can't say that it will be entirely a bad thing. Does Bob Corker strike anybody other than his mother as Senatorial?

Posted by Rich
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The Obvious Connection

Regarding President Bush's speech on Sept. 11, 2006:

Question: What do al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Syria, Iran, Palestine, and the Taliban all have in common with the Hussein regime in Iraq?

Answer: All of the above have been documented as either using or supporting the use of terrorism in order to achieve their political objectives, including genocide.

Given that 9/11 represents the climax of an escalating terrorist attack on America and American interests, then doesn't it make sense that President Bush would focus his remarks on the current status of global terrorism?

That's not playing politics; that's dealing with the real world.

Compare that to the darling of the left, Kieth Olberman, who wants us to stop spending money on the war, and finish the 9/11 memorial instead. To me, there can be no more fitting memorial to those whose lives were taken on 9/11 than the absolute destruction of terrorism as a political force.

Posted by Rich
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