“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Is Managing the Chinese Giant Wishful Thinking?

As China becomes richer, it is becoming more nationalistic. A blunt glimpse of that was apparent over the recent Olympic Torch protests. The Chinese public was genuinely angry over world reaction. There is no significant sign that this trend will not continue.

As China gets richer, it also becomes more dependent on foreign sources of materials and energy. It will need an ever expanding military to protect the unimpeded access to those sources. The world has seen this lethal combination many times in the past. Secretary Gates has noticed:

Gates Warns China Not to Bully Region on Energy

By ERIC SCHMITT New York Times
Published: May 31, 2008

SINGAPORE — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued a set of thinly veiled warnings to China on Saturday, cautioning that it could risk its share of further gains in Asia’s economic prosperity if it bullied its neighbors over natural resources in contested areas like the South China Sea.

Three years ago at the same lectern here, Mr. Gates’s predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, bluntly criticized China’s swift military buildup. Last year Mr. Gates struck a more conciliatory tone, saying Beijing and Washington had a chance to “build trust over time.”

Mr. Gates seemed to take a third approach in his remarks to a major regional Asia security conference here, seeking to lay down clear markers of continued American commitments to the region while also obliquely criticizing China.

He said that in his four trips to Asia since becoming defense secretary 18 months ago, several countries had expressed concern about “the security implications of rising demand for resources” (translation: China’s voracious quest for new sources of energy) and about “coercive diplomacy” (translation: China’s contested claims of resource-rich territorial waters).

Mr. Gates said there were rewards for playing by an international set of rules in a transparent way. “We should not forget that globalization has permitted our shared rise in wealth over recent decades,” he said. “This achievement rests above all on openness: openness of trade, openness of ideas, and openness of what I would call the ‘common areas’ — whether in the maritime, space, or cyber domains.”

The secretary specifically praised Beijing twice, noting that he had recently set up a telephone hot line with his Chinese defense counterpart and that the American-backed, six-party negotiations intended to temper North Korea’s nuclear ambitions “would not be possible without China’s valued cooperation.”

Otherwise, Mr. Gates spoke in a diplomatic code that his senior aides said would be clearly understood not only in Beijing but also in other Asian capitals and by the hundreds of security experts attending the annual regional conference sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Mr. Gates and his aides had debated just how blunt he ought to be in his address, which opened the Saturday session. In the end, aides said, he accepted the argument that taking a more direct approach would play to Beijing’s advantage and that a subtler, more indirect tack would win more support among Asian allies.

In the speech he recalled disputes in the mid-1990s between China and its neighbors over competing boundary and resource claims in the South China Sea, tensions that have resurfaced among China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“We urged then, as we do today, the maintenance of a calm and nonassertive environment in which contending claims may be discussed and, if possible, resolved,” he said.

Mr. Gates, as he did last year at the conference, said that the United States “seeks more openness in military modernization in Asia. Transparency enhances confidence and reduces competitive spending.”

He also delivered a scolding reference to China’s unannounced destruction of a satellite in January 2007 when he described how the Pentagon handled a similar situation much differently in February, alerting others before shooting down a failing satellite over the Pacific just before it tumbled uncontrollably to Earth carrying toxic fuel.

Lt. Gen. Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the general staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army, pushed back during his speech, saying that China was not engaged in an arms race and that its military spending, compared with other sectors of its economy, was “limited and proportional.” In a clear reference to America’s plan to build missile defense systems, General Ma said deploying such defenses “was not helpful” to regional stability.

Mr. Gates made clear that central to the Bush administration’s Asia policy is maintaining American military might and economic sway in the region.

Indeed, Mr. Gates’s first stop on his weeklong visit to Asia was to Guam, where he took a helicopter tour on Friday to review Pentagon plans to spend $15 billion over the next six years to upgrade and expand World War II-era installations to accommodate thousands of additional American troops, and to broaden training missions with regional partners like Japan.

He said Saturday that Washington’s policy also focused on empowering regional allies to defend themselves by strengthening their armed forces and by building more robust economies and open political systems.

This policy is almost sure to endure no matter which party wins the White House in the November election, he said.

He showed an unusual flash on anger in response to a question after his speech about American efforts to deliver relief to cyclone victims in Myanmar, saying the United States has tried 15 times to get the Burmese leadership to allow more foreign assistance, but to no avail.

“We have reached out, they have kept their hands in their pockets,” he said.

Friday, May 30, 2008

This is What I'm Talkin' About! Rationing and Taxation

May 30, 2008

Moving Toward Energy Rationing

By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- I'm not a global warming believer. I'm not a global warming denier. I'm a global warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere, but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.

Predictions of catastrophe depend on models. Models depend on assumptions about complex planetary systems -- from ocean currents to cloud formation -- that no one fully understands. Which is why the models are inherently flawed and forever changing. The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability. The multiple improbability of their simultaneous occurrence renders all such predictions entirely speculative.

Yet on the basis of this speculation, environmental activists, attended by compliant scientists and opportunistic politicians, are advocating radical economic and social regulation. "The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity," warns Czech President Vaclav Klaus, "is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism."

If you doubt the arrogance, you haven't seen that Newsweek cover story that declared the global warming debate over. Consider: If Newton's laws of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming -- infinitely more untested, complex and speculative -- is a closed issue.

But declaring it closed has its rewards. It not only dismisses skeptics as the running dogs of reaction, i.e., of Exxon, Cheney and now Klaus. By fiat, it also hugely re-empowers the intellectual left.

For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class -- social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies -- arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).

Two decades ago, however, socialism and communism died rudely, then were buried forever by the empirical demonstration of the superiority of market capitalism everywhere from Thatcher's England to Deng's China, where just the partial abolition of socialism lifted more people out of poverty more rapidly than ever in human history.

Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.

Environmentalists are Gaia's priests, instructing us in her proper service and casting out those who refuse to genuflect. (See Newsweek above.) And having proclaimed the ultimate commandment -- carbon chastity -- they are preparing the supporting canonical legislation that will tell you how much you can travel, what kind of light you will read by, and at what temperature you may set your bedroom thermostat.

Just Monday, a British parliamentary committee proposed that every citizen be required to carry a carbon card that must be presented, under penalty of law, when buying gasoline, taking an airplane or using electricity. The card contains your yearly carbon ration to be drawn down with every purchase, every trip, every swipe.

There's no greater social power than the power to ration. And, other than rationing food, there is no greater instrument of social control than rationing energy, the currency of just about everything one does and uses in an advanced society.

So what does the global warming agnostic propose as an alternative? First, more research -- untainted and reliable -- to determine (a) whether the carbon footprint of man is or is not lost among the massive natural forces (from sunspot activity to ocean currents) that affect climate, and (b) if the human effect is indeed significant, whether the planetary climate system has the homeostatic mechanisms (like the feedback loops in the human body, for example) with which to compensate.

Second, reduce our carbon footprint in the interim by doing the doable, rather than the economically ruinous and socially destructive. The most obvious step is a major move to nuclear power, which to the atmosphere is the cleanest of the clean.

But your would-be masters have foreseen this contingency. The Church of the Environment promulgates secondary dogmas as well. One of these is a strict nuclear taboo.

Rather convenient, is it not? Take this major coal-substituting fix off the table and we will be rationing all the more. Guess who does the rationing?
ht: bobal


Although Communism is all but dead, the mentality isn't. The anarchist, socialist, communist malcontent character flaw parasite has been selected for (selected for, get it?) and is alive and well. What Krauthammer points out is that once again the parasite has hitched a ride on the latest and greatest trends of the world. The parasite has been around forever. Here's a two thousand year-old reference to them when coincidentally they were also into the Gaia worship thing.

Romans 1:25 - They exchanged God's truth for a lie and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost

U.S. Drug Users Are Root of Violence, Calderon Says (Update1)

By Jens Erik Gould

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon said demand from U.S. drug users is the root cause of violence that killed thousands of people this year.

``The battle Mexico is waging every day takes the lives of Mexican policemen even though the majority of consumers are Americans,'' Calderon said today in Mexico City at a meeting with governors of U.S. and Mexican border states.

The U.S. and Mexico must boost efforts to fight the drug cartels that bring marijuana and cocaine into the U.S., Calderon said. The governors voiced support for Plan Merida, the Bush administration's aid package to help fight Mexican drug crime that has yet to clear the U.S. Congress, said Jose Gonzalez Paras, governor of Nuevo Leon state in Mexico.

Mexico's top police officers are being targeted and killed as drug traffickers retaliate for arrests and record seizures stemming from Calderon's crackdown on narcotics gangs.

Seven Mexican federal policemen died in a shootout with drug traffickers in Sinaloa state this week, the highest number of federal agents killed in one day. Mexico's acting federal police chief Edgar Millan was shot nine times and killed May 8 as he returned to his home in Mexico City.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Calderon's efforts to fight organized crime.

``We want to congratulate him for the courage that he has to stand up against the drug lords,'' Schwarzenegger said.

There have been 1,356 drug-related killings so far this year, newspaper El Universal reported May 21. More than 2,500 people, including hundreds of police and military officers, were killed last year by drug violence.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Texas Governor Rick Perry also attended the meeting. 

Loving, Uplifting, Inspiring

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good Move. McCain Outfoxing Obama

"How is it, McCain exclaimed with relish, that Obama "wants to sit down" with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but has yet to have a one on one with Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq?"

Nice move McCain. Punch and counter-punch. Keep inside and punk ass the rookie.


John McCain has meeting plans for Barack Obama

John McCain hardly could have been surprised that the road trip recently suggested by one of his allies received a rude reception from Barack Obama's camp.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton, responding to the idea floated by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and quickly embraced by McCain that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and Obama visit Iraq together, dismissed it as "nothing more than a political stunt."

That reaction, as it turns out, may be exactly what McCain was hoping for. It gave him the opportunity, which he jumped on today at a campaign stop in Reno, to personalize his unrelenting criticism of Obama's pledge that as president, he would be willing to meet with anti-American leaders with a raft of preconditions.

How is it, McCain exclaimed with relish, that Obama "wants to sit down" with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but has yet to have a one on one with Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq?

It's a line we suspect will become a perennial in McCain's rhetorical arsenal. Indeed, to reinforce the point, the Republican National Committee today announced the start of an "online clock" marking the days since Obama's sole trip to Iraq (871 and counting).

It worked for Fox News' Chris Wallace....

-- Don Frederick LA Times

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan Skewers Bush

Disloyalty meets Dishonesty

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.

• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”

• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

A few reporters were offered advance copies of the book, with the restriction that their stories not appear until Sunday, the day before the official publication date. Politico declined and purchased “What Happened” at a Washington bookstore.

The eagerly awaited book, while recounting many fond memories of Bush and describing him as “authentic” and “sincere,” is harsher than reporters and White House officials had expected.

McClellan was one of the president’s earliest and most loyal political aides, and most of his friends had expected him to take a few swipes at his former colleague in order to sell books but also to paint a largely affectionate portrait.

Instead, McClellan’s tone is often harsh. He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” and he blames Rove for suggesting the photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover. McClellan says he and counselor to the president Dan Bartlett had opposed the idea and thought it had been scrapped.

“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush’s presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term,” he writes. “And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.”

McClellan, who turned 40 in February, was press secretary from July 2003 to April 2006. An Austin native from a political family, he began working as a gubernatorial spokesman for then-Gov. Bush in early 1999, was traveling press secretary for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign and was chief deputy to Press Secretary Ari Fleischer at the beginning of Bush’s first term.

“I still like and admire President Bush,” McClellan writes. “But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. … In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Buchenwald - Auschwitz, Germany - Poland, Barack Fails History and Geography.

MSM and the Examination of Obama

Remember when the Left and the Democrats were all lathered up by Bush and his geography challenge. In case you forgot, read this from 1999 Slate:

Bush gets an F in foreign affairs
The Texas governor who would be president can't identify the leaders of Chechnya, Pakistan or India. Has he been taking lessons from Dan Quayle?
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By David Corn

Nov. 5, 1999 | WASHINGTON -- Have you ever gone to class unprepared and been surprised by a pop quiz, and then scored only 25 percent? Imagine if that embarrassing performance made the front pages.

When Andy Hiller, the political correspondent for WHDH-TV in Boston, had George W. Bush in front of a camera on Wednesday, he asked the Texas governor if he could name the president of Chechnya. Bush could not. Nor could he name the general who recently took power in Pakistan or the new prime minister of India. Bush only answered one of the four questions correctly when he identified the president of Taiwan as "Lee."

What made the Q&A worse for Bush was that he responded to the questions with petulance. Rather than explaining that he is a big-picture guy and calmly providing a strategic vision of U.S. foreign policy concerning these areas, he shot back at the reporter.

"Can you name the foreign minister of Mexico?" Bush asked, apparently proud that he knew the answer. Hiller reasonably replied that he was not the one running for president.

Bush's session with Hiller reinforced the notion that he is not ready for prime time. He may not even be ready for a debate. And his campaign staff seemed to be in a similar position. When Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes attempted to defend her boss following the Hiller interview, she said that neither the Bush campaign's senior foreign policy advisor, Josh Bolton, nor foreign policy advisor Joel Shinn could name all four of these world leaders.

Now for a slightly different tone when the report is about the visionary messiah Obama. Keep in mind, Barack is about judgement, change you can believe him. His qualifications obviously do not include history of his own family, of WWII or European geography. Still he is uniquely qualified to redirect US foreign policy, probably based on his community organization skills:

Obama misspoke on name of death camp, campaign says

By Christi Parsons | Washington Bureau
7:41 PM CDT, May 27, 2008

WASHINGTON - Sen. Barack Obama misspoke when he told a group of veterans that his uncle was among the troops who liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp, aides to the Democratic presidential candidate said Tuesday.

In fact, Obama's great-uncle took part in the liberation of one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald, spokesman Bill Burton said.

Obama "mistakenly referred to Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald in telling of his personal experience of a soldier in his family who served heroically," Burton said.

The Illinois senator made the mistake on Memorial Day while speaking to veterans in Las Cruces, N.M.

According to news accounts of Monday's event, Obama told of an uncle who was one of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate prisoners there. A video posted on YouTube also records the account, in which Obama goes on to say, "The story in our family was that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn't leave the house for six months."

Bill asks Why?

Bill Clinton whined, "I always thought it was the Republican party who disenfranchised people in Florida, not the Democrats." 

LMAO!   Ha ha, ha!

My question is why do Democrats insist on lying about Florida in 2000. It's been proven by multiple independent newspaper investigations that Bush would have won under any recount scenario. It's deliciously ironic that the Democrats are now faced with disenfranchising their own voters in Florida and Michigan.  This may shut them up about Fl 2000 once and for all.

Community Organization in China

Organized - Head tilted upward - Looking into the future.

This is the result of community organization and the natural outcome of collectivist thinking and the ultimate repression of personal freedom. This is the result of humanity ruled by elite masters. These are the results when individual rights become subordinated to community. This is the outcome of an ideology by men of vision and change.


China's one-child policy has exemptions for quake victims' parents

By Andrew Jacobs Published: May 27, 2008

CHENGDU, China: In response to inquiries from grieving relatives, local officials announced Monday that parents whose only child was killed or grievously injured in the May 12 earthquake would be exempt from the country's one-child policy.

The exception, issued by the Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee in Sichuan Province, said qualified parents could apply for legal permission to have another child, according to The Associated Press.

Thousands of parents have openly challenged the government over why so many schools collapsed during the earthquake. An estimated 10,000 students are believed to have died.

The anguish of parents and grandparents has been compounded by the one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979 to control population growth. Provincial officials, especially those in rural areas or in regions with large minority populations, are sometimes given latitude in the application of the regulations. In some places, for example, families are permitted to have more than one child if the first is a girl.

According to the policy, local governments can levy steep fines on couples who have more than one child; the children of those who defy the rules are sometimes denied government benefits, including access to a free education.

The committee announced Monday that if a couple's legally born child was killed in the earthquake, an illegal child under 18 years could be registered as a legal replacement. If the dead child was illegal, it said the family would no longer be responsible for outstanding fines, although parents would not be reimbursed for penalties already paid.

The changes, however, may come as little solace to parents who have only a photo, a backpack or the ashes of their dead son or daughter. Zhongxin Sun, a sociology professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, said some mothers may be too old to conceive; others may have undergone sterilization. "To lose a child is to lose everything for Chinese parents," said Professor Sun, who is a visiting scholar at Yale University Law School. "A child is their only hope."

Men of Change and Vision Always Tilt Their Collectivist Heads.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Obama Calls for Collectivist Action

Visionary Obama, head elevated 15 degrees to the left.

Obama claims that one of his qualifications for the Presidency is his experience as a community organizer. Just what does a community organizer do for a living?

They are collectivists. They offer the down-trodden a redefinition and a new communism of defined entitlement and left wing ideology that takes from those that have and redistribute to those that do not.

Here is what they say they do:

The Roles and Responsibilities of Community Organizers
from The Community organizing Tool Box

Organizers challenge people to act on behalf of their common interests. Organizers empower people to act by developing shared relationships, understandings, and tasks which enable them to gain new resources, new understanding of their interests, and new capacity to use these resources on behalf of their interests. Organizers work through "dialogues" in relationships, understanding and action carried out as campaigns. They identify, recruit and develop leadership, they build community among that leadership, they build power out of that community.

Organizers develop new relationships out of old ones - sometimes by linking one person to another and sometimes by linking whole networks of people together.

Organizers deepen understanding by creating opportunities for people to deliberate with one another about their circumstances, to reinterpret these circumstances in ways that open up new possibilities for action, and to develop strategies and tactics that make creative use of the resources and opportunities that their circumstances afford. Organizers motivate people to act by creating experiences to challenge those feelings which inhibit action, such as fear, apathy, self-doubt, inertia and isolation with those feelings that support action such as anger, hope, self-worth, urgency and a sense of community. ...

Organizers work through campaigns. Campaigns are very highly energized, intensely focused, concentrated streams of activity with specific goals and deadlines. People are recruited, battles fought and organizations built through campaigns. Campaigns polarize by bringing out conflicts ordinarily submerged in a way contrary to the interests of the organizing constituency. One critical dilemma is how to depolarize in order to negotiate resolution of these conflicts. Another dilemma is how to balance the work of campaigns with the ongoing work of organizational survival.

Organizers build community by developing leadership. They focus on identifying leaders and enhancing their skills, values and commitments. They also focus on building strong communities: communities through which people can gain new understanding of their interests as well as power to act on them. Organizers work at constructing communities which are bounded yet inclusive, communal yet diverse, soladaristic yet tolerant. They work at developing a relationship between community and leadership based on mutual responsibility and accountability.


Obama urges Wesleyan grads to enter public service

May 25, 2:15 PM (ET)


MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) - Filling in for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and tying himself to the family's legacy, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama urged college graduates Sunday to "make us believe again" by dedicating themselves to public service.

"We may disagree as Americans on certain issues and positions, but I believe we can be unified in service to a greater good. I intend to make it a cause of my presidency, and I believe with all my heart that this generation is ready and eager and up to the challenge," Obama told Wesleyan University's Class of 2008.

The Illinois senator peppered his speech with references to the Kennedy legacy: John F. Kennedy urging Americans to ask what they can do for their country, the Peace Corps and Robert Kennedy talking about people creating "ripples of hope."

He devoted special attention and praise to Edward M. Kennedy, the longtime Massachusetts senator who had planned to deliver the graduation address but backed out last week after he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.

Obama, who leads in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he and Kennedy had talked last week about Obama delivering the speech. Kennedy has endorsed Obama in the nominating contest against fellow Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and has campaigned for him.

Obama said Kennedy has helped provide health care to children, given parents leave time to spend with new babies, raised the minimum wage and let people keep health insurance when changing jobs "and I have a feeling that Ted Kennedy is not done just yet."

Kennedy's stepdaughter, Caroline Raclin, is a member of Wesleyan's Class of 2008. Her mother, Kennedy's wife, Vicki, attended the ceremony.

Obama, with a presidential campaign appealing to youth and emphasizing change, often evokes comparisons to the Kennedys, particularly Robert Kennedy and his 1968 bid for the White House.

Clad in a black academic robe, Obama received an honorary doctorate. Some of the graduates had stencils of Obama's face and the word "hope" - a theme of his campaign - on their mortarboards.

Only briefly did Obama veer into campaign territory, rattling off a list of education changes he promised to make as president. The rest of the 25-minute speech urged students to focus on more than "the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy."

"At a time of war, we need you to work for peace," Obama said. "At a time of inequality, we need you to work for opportunity. At a time of so much cynicism and so much doubt, we need you to make us believe again. That's your task, Class of 2008."

Scott T. Modeen, Forever Young - One of Many- Memorial Day, 2008

Scott T. Modeen, 24, of Hennepin, Minnesota.

Modeen died from an improvised explosive device outside Fallujah, Iraq. He was inside an abandoned flour factory being used as a patrol base when the IED detonated. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, California. Died on December 1, 2005.

Semper Fi

December 5, 2005

It has taken a few days to get the strength to write about Scott, he has been a part of our family for many years. Scott was my son Chris' best friend. Scott had accepted our Grandchildren as his niece's and nephews and they cherished him and will never forget his spirit.

We know that Scott was very proud to be a marine and believed in the cause. We may not see the difference that the troops are making, but Scott said that he could see the reason why the troops were needed and was ready to go back to Iraq to help his fellow marines.
I remember sitting with Scott in our living room the day he left Minnesota and he was talking about Iraq and his marine family. I am very thankful for that time that I was able to spend with him because it was at that time that told me that he would fight for the cause even though we have a hard time rationalizing why our boys need to be in Iraq.
Scott your sense of humor would push me to the edge sometimes, but it was another reason I loved you like my son.
I will miss your passion for life, your spirit of adventure and your poor sense of humor
Teri (MOM) Pierce (Crystal, MN)

December 5, 2005
Dear Modeen Family,

I have known Scott since kindergarden at Sacred Heart School and through high school at Cooper. He always knew how to make people laugh! He was so much fun to be around. My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Scott's Family and other friends. I sure am proud of Scott, but very sad to see him takin' too soon. I will alway remember the wonderful memories that we all shared with Scott and he will be FOREVER missed. I would also like to thank Scott for being so Brave and serving for our Country. May God help Scott's Parents, Nikki, and other family members to find peace at this difficult time.
(Friend of Scott)
Brenna Murphy (Robbinsdale, MN)

December 5, 2005

Scott was my other brother, an uncle to my girls, and a friend. Words cannot describe the loss of such a wonderful man. Scott was an honorary member of the Pierce family. Holidays, Birthdays, and Sunday dinners with Mom Pierce. I'm so thankful for those memories. He will be missed tremendously by myself and my family. He's always been a hero to me and my girls!
Kathy Pierce (robbinsdale, MN)

December 5, 2005

All my sympathy goes out to the family of Scott. It is a great loss to everyone who ever came in contact with him. I met Scott at Highview. He was not the kind of person who kept to himself. He made sure you knew who he was. He had a crazy sense of humor that stayed with you. I was pretty shy and Scott had an influence on me that I could never forget or repay. He helped me to break out of my shell and not to worry what other people thought of me. He taught me how to keep it REAL. He was a great guy and will never be forgoten. He is a hero to the whole country. Your my boy, Scott. You are so loved.
Sara Lindgren (Robbinsdale, MN)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gingrich at the Business Executives for National Security Forum

For two days, Drudge has been consumed by a silly misstatement by Hillary Clinton. That is the current level of  American political discourse. 

It occurs at a time which is the most dangerous in the past fifty years of American history. 

I doubt one percent of the US population will hear this speech by Newt Gingrich or know it ever took place. Of that one percent, few will be capable of affecting any change. 

Newt Gingrich, love him or loath him, is one of the most important voices in current American culture and security. You need to listen to this.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Politicians Saying Dumb Things

John Adams would not be welcome today.

I listened to Hillary refer to the RFK assassination. I heard it as an historic example for keeping the electoral primary going until the end of the process. She could have just as honestly said we could have another 911, a plane could crash, someone could have a stroke or in a case she had personal familiarity with, some lurid or illegal personal behavior came to light. All of these have precedent. Politicians have died in plane crashes and have used their offices for malice, greed and good old lust.

It was not a smart thing to say, but who has not said something dumb? I only have to look at some of my posts to come up with personal examples. We all say silly things.We are making a mistake rewarding caution and evasion over frank and open political discussions.

Gotcha and politics of destruction have caused more harm to the US than the Iraq war. No honest conversation can take place about social security, medicare, health care, deficits, trade, energy, taxes, entitlements or US military commitments without the other side demagoguing honest discourse to a mostly blissfully ignorant public. There should be no joy or mirth in a political system that produces vacuous pompadoured eunuchs. Surely, there would be no room in US politics for a modern day John Adams.

Hillary Clinton says many things to which I disagree and object, as does John McCain and Barack Obama, but it is to our benefit to have them speak openly and honestly and when they stick a foot in their mouth, accept it for what it is, just a dumb thing to say.

Friday, May 23, 2008

James Earl Obama

Beware of Big-Eared Democrats who use the word "shameful".

From the beginning, I have been convinced that Obama is an empty suit. His orgasmic influence over the increasingly ridiculous MSM will come to haunt the Democrats. Better yet, Obama reminds me of Jimmy Carter.

Obama is rapidly sliding down the messiah pole. A delicious thought.


Obama's Metastatic Gaffe

By Charles Krauthammer WaPo
Friday, May 23, 2008

When the House of Representatives takes up arms against $4 gas by voting 324-84 to sue OPEC, you know that election-year discourse has entered the realm of the surreal. Another unmistakable sign is when a presidential candidate makes a gaffe, then, realizing it is too egregious to take back without suffering humiliation, decides to make it a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chávez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure -- then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration's refusal to do so not just "ridiculous" but "a disgrace."

After that, there was no going back. So he doubled down. What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity.

Should the president ever meet with enemies? Sometimes, but only after minimal American objectives -- i.e., preconditions -- have been met. The Shanghai communique was largely written long before Richard Nixon ever touched down in China. Yet Obama thinks Nixon to China confirms the wisdom of his willingness to undertake a worldwide freshman-year tyrants tour.

Most of the time you don't negotiate with enemy leaders because there is nothing to negotiate. Does Obama imagine that North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela are insufficiently informed about American requirements for improved relations?

There are always contacts through back channels or intermediaries. Iran, for example, has engaged in five years of talks with our closest European allies and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to say nothing of the hundreds of official U.S. statements outlining exactly what we would give them in return for suspending uranium enrichment.

Obama pretends that while he is for such "engagement," the cowboy Republicans oppose it. Another absurdity. No one is debating the need for contacts. The debate is over the stupidity of elevating rogue states and their tyrants, easing their isolation, and increasing their leverage by granting them unconditional meetings with the president of the world's superpower.

Obama cited Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as presidents who met with enemies. Does he know no history? Neither Roosevelt nor Truman ever met with any of the leaders of the Axis powers. Obama must be referring to the pictures he's seen of Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, and Truman and Stalin at Potsdam. Does he not know that at that time Stalin was a wartime ally?

During the subsequent Cold War, Truman never met with Stalin. Nor Mao. Nor Kim Il Sung. Truman was no fool.

Obama cites John Kennedy meeting Nikita Khrushchev as another example of what he wants to emulate. Really? That Vienna summit of a young, inexperienced, untested American president was disastrous, emboldening Khrushchev to push Kennedy on Berlin -- and then nearly fatally in Cuba, leading almost directly to the Cuban missile crisis. Is that the precedent Obama aspires to follow?

A meeting with Ahmadinejad would not just strengthen and vindicate him at home, it would instantly and powerfully ease the mullahs' isolation, inviting other world leaders to follow. And with that would come a flood of commercial contracts, oil deals, diplomatic agreements -- undermining the very sanctions and isolation that Obama says he would employ against Iran.

As every seasoned diplomat knows, the danger of a summit is that it creates enormous pressure for results. And results require mutual concessions. That is why conditions and concessions are worked out in advance, not on the scene.

What concessions does Obama imagine Ahmadinejad will make to him on Iran's nuclear program? And what new concessions will Obama offer? To abandon Lebanon? To recognize Hamas? Or perhaps to squeeze Israel?

Having lashed himself to the ridiculous, unprecedented promise of unconditional presidential negotiations -- and then having compounded the problem by elevating it to a principle -- Obama keeps trying to explain. On Sunday, he declared in Pendleton, Ore., that by Soviet standards Iran and others "don't pose a serious threat to us." (On the contrary. Islamic Iran is dangerously apocalyptic. Soviet Russia was not.) The next day in Billings, Mont.: "I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave."

That's the very next day, mind you. Such rhetorical flailing has done more than create an intellectual mess. It has given rise to a new political phenomenon: the metastatic gaffe. The one begets another, begets another, begets . . .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Texas Wrong in Taking Children From Parents

Court: Texas had no right to take polygamists' children

SAN ANGELO, Texas (CNN) -- The state of Texas should not have removed the more than 460 children it took from a polygamist sect's ranch because it didn't prove they were in "imminent enough" danger, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

In its ruling, the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals decided in favor of 38 women who had appealed the removals, as well as a decision last month by a district judge that the children will remain in state custody.

"The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department's witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," the three-judge panel said.

An attorney representing the mothers said the trial court that originally backed the state's seizure of the children has 10 days to vacate its decision. If it doesn't, the appeals court will act, said Julie Balovich of the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

"It is a great day for families in the state of Texas," she said.

The state's Department of Family and Protective Services "did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health or safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty," the judges ruled. Watch how the ruling favors FLDS »

According to the ruling, the mothers said the state should have proved that the children's health or safety was in danger; that there was "an urgent need for protection" that required immediately separating the children from their parents; and that the state made "reasonable efforts" to avoid removing the children.

Because no such proof was presented, the mothers argued, the District Court -- which backed the department's seizure of the children -- "was required to return the children to their parents and abused its discretion by failing to do so."

The ruling does not order the children returned to Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas, but directs the lower court to vacate its orders granting custody of the women's children to CPS.

"The legislature has required that there be evidence to support a finding that there is a danger to the physical health or safety of the children in question and that the need for protection is urgent and warrants immediate removal," the ruling said.

It concluded, "Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may some day have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal prior to full litigation of the issue."

The children were removed last month from the Yearning for Zion ranch, which is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon offshoot that practices polygamy.

"The way that the courts have ignored the legal rights of these mothers is ridiculous," Balovich said before a news conference. "It was about time a court stood up and said that what has been happening to these families is wrong."

Later, flanked by some of the FLDS mothers represented in the case, Balovich explained that authorities considered YFZ ranch one household, an assertion with which the appeals court did not agree.

"This was the right decision," Balovich said, adding that she and her clients were "ecstatic about this news."

Although the ruling applies only to the 38 mothers and their children, "we believe the reasoning in the court of appeals decision would apply to all children," Balovich said.

The authenticity of the initial abuse reports that focused authorities' attention on the ranch is in question, the court noted in its ruling. Police have alleged that a family shelter crisis line received multiple calls on March 29 and 30 from a caller claiming to be Sarah Jessop Barlow, age 16.

The girl reported that she had an 8-month-old baby and was pregnant again, and that she was married to Dale Barlow, who abused her physically and sexually.

At least one of the telephones used by "Sarah Barlow" to make the calls has been traced back to a Colorado woman. Police have named Rozita Swinton a person of interest in connection with the reports of abuse at the ranch, but she has not been charged, although she faces charges of providing a false report to authorities in a Colorado case.

Court hearings in the FLDS case resumed Monday, with hearings in several courtrooms to accommodate lawyers for the children. The hearings were held so the parties could review "family service plans" dictating the parameters under which FLDS children can regain custody of their children.

FLDS members have denied any physical or sexual abuse takes place, and maintain they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

The sect's leader, Warren Jeffs, is in a Utah prison after a conviction on charges of being an accomplice to rape in connection with a marriage he performed in 2001. Jeffs also faces trial in Arizona on eight charges including sexual conduct with a minor, incest and conspiracy.

Your Older Wiser Brain

Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain

NY Times

Published: May 20, 2008

When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.

Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.

The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, “Progress in Brain Research.”

Some brains do deteriorate with age. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, strikes 13 percent of Americans 65 and older. But for most aging adults, the authors say, much of what occurs is a gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact, like a name or a telephone number. Although that can be frustrating, it is often useful.

“It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”

For example, in studies where subjects are asked to read passages that are interrupted with unexpected words or phrases, adults 60 and older work much more slowly than college students. Although the students plow through the texts at a consistent speed regardless of what the out-of-place words mean, older people slow down even more when the words are related to the topic at hand. That indicates that they are not just stumbling over the extra information, but are taking it in and processing it.

When both groups were later asked questions for which the out-of-place words might be answers, the older adults responded much better than the students.

“For the young people, it’s as if the distraction never happened,” said an author of the review, Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute. “But for older adults, because they’ve retained all this extra data, they’re now suddenly the better problem solvers. They can transfer the information they’ve soaked up from one situation to another.”

Such tendencies can yield big advantages in the real world, where it is not always clear what information is important, or will become important. A seemingly irrelevant point or suggestion in a memo can take on new meaning if the original plan changes. Or extra details that stole your attention, like others’ yawning and fidgeting, may help you assess the speaker’s real impact.

“A broad attention span may enable older adults to ultimately know more about a situation and the indirect message of what’s going on than their younger peers,” Dr. Hasher said. “We believe that this characteristic may play a significant role in why we think of older people as wiser.”

In a 2003 study at Harvard, Dr. Carson and other researchers tested students’ ability to tune out irrelevant information when exposed to a barrage of stimuli. The more creative the students were thought to be, determined by a questionnaire on past achievements, the more trouble they had ignoring the unwanted data. A reduced ability to filter and set priorities, the scientists concluded, could contribute to original thinking.

This phenomenon, Dr. Carson said, is often linked to a decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. Studies have found that people who suffered an injury or disease that lowered activity in that region became more interested in creative pursuits.

Jacqui Smith, a professor of psychology and research professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the current research, said there was a word for what results when the mind is able to assimilate data and put it in its proper place — wisdom.

“These findings are all very consistent with the context we’re building for what wisdom is,” she said. “If older people are taking in more information from a situation, and they’re then able to combine it with their comparatively greater store of general knowledge, they’re going to have a nice advantage.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hillary Campaign $31 Million in Debt (CORRECTED)

Corrected Item: Clinton's campaign debts at $20.88 million

This is an item correcting the campaign debts of the Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton as previously reported here.

Due to a mathematical error, the $11.4 million she had previously loaned herself was counted twice, producing an incorrect total of nearly $31 million.

The actual total debt of her campaign, as reported in the campaign finance filing for April, is $10 million in loans to herself plus $9.48 million in unpaid bills.

Additionally, campaign officials said the New York senator gave herself another $1.4 million loan in May, producing a total current debt of $20.88 million. But the latest loan that occurred in May will not show up on finance filings until next month.

The other numbers for Sen. Clinton and other candidates' financial reports stand as written in the original item.

Money shocker! Hillary Clinton's campaign debt soars to $31 million

No wonder Sen. Hillary Clinton was so late filing her required campaign financial reports Tuesday night. Her political team didn't want the shocking news in it to overshadow her lopsided thumping of Sen. Barack Obama in Kentucky.

Now comes the morning after, pay-up time. Clinton's campaign debt has now soared to nearly $31 million, according to numbers crunched early this morning by The Times' campaign finance guru, Dan Morain.

She added another $9.5 million in unpaid bills to venders this past month alone, pushing her total debt to venders and herself to the new astronomical figure, about a 50% debt increase in one month.

According to a campaign release put out Tuesday evening as election returns revealed her big win in Kentucky and loss in Oregon, Clinton raised "approximately $22 million" from other people in April. The release also touted that $10 million had poured in within 48 hours of another lopsided Clinton victory over Obama, that one in Pennsylvania, and said it was the second best fundraising month of her entire campaign.

But the number collected is actually closer to $21 million and the release also neglected to mention that she spent $28.9 million, nearly $8 million more than she took in. She used personal loans to make up part of the difference. She also delayed payments to consultants. Including the $9.5 million in unpaid bills from April, she owes consultants and other venders $19.5 million.

Not to mention the total $11.4 million she has loaned herself.

The likely Democratic nominee Obama continues to vastly out-raise Sen. John McCain, but the presumed Republican nominee is closing the money gap with the significant help of his party, according to new campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

McCain disclosed he had $21.7 million in the bank at the end of April, compared to....

...Obama’s $46.5 million. But the Republican National Committee is proving to be a real financial equalizer for the Arizona senator with the notorious disaste for fundraising.

With significant time and help from President George W. Bush, the RNC ended April with $40.6 million in the bank—10 times more than the Democratic National Committee, which had a modest $4.4 million in the bank.

The Democratic Party's fund-raising also was a fraction of the Republicans' in April--a mere $4.7 million, compared to $19.8 million for the RNC.

The DNC’s cash in the bank actually fell from its March total, which was $5.3 million. Democrats have tapped former Vice President Al Gore in an effort to draw donors to party fund-raisers.
Party money can be used to help the nominees in a variety of direct and indirect ways during the general election campaign. Parties can pay for voter registration, voter turn-out efforts and advertising.

McCain’s primary fight has long been over, which allowed him to limit spending to $6.4 million last month. Democratic front-runner Obama raised $31.9 million last month and spent $36.4 million, according to his report filed late Tuesday.

McCain disclosed he received $17.8 million in contributions in April, pushing his total receipts to $100.4 million for the whole campaign, less than half Obama's total of $266.6 million since January 2007.

The freshman Illinois Democrat scooped up $31.9 million last month, a 20% drop from the $40 million he raised in March. He collected $55 million back in February, which seems millions of dollars away.

--Andrew Malcolm LA Times

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Who knew John Adams was a prophet?

These words are turning out to be prophetic:
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other. John Adams.
I'll keep banging the drum. The changes we are seeing in society are the result of a secularization which has been occurring since the Scopes Monkey Trial. Last Thursday's California Supreme Court 4-3 ruling that a California law against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional is merely the latest of events which corroborate Adam's observation about the nature of the Constitution.

The case against the Yearning for Zion cult has taken a turn as the State of Texas has not been able to prove its allegations of child abuse. Both the ACLU and the CATO institute have weighed in against Texas. Listen to this CATO podcast to get a better idea of what has gone awry.

Unless "majority rule" is allowed to prevail in our politics, polygamy, same sex marriage and more will soon be legal in America. It's inevitable that without a common moral foundation, we will not be able to agree on morality or laws regarding moral issues.

Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Can Anyone Identify This Historic Figure?

Found in the Archives

Recent Montana Event for Hillary With Bill Clinton

It's a white man's world.

Al Gore on Katrina, Global Warming

There are scientific warnings now of another onrushing catastrophe. We were warned of an imminent attack by Al Qaeda; we didn't respond. We were warned the levees would break in New Orleans; we didn't respond. Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming. A scientist at MIT has published a study well before this tragedy showing that since the 1970s, hurricanes in both the Atlantic and the Pacific have increased in duration, and in intensity, by about 50 %. The newscasters told us after Hurricane Katrina went over the southern tip of Florida that there was a particular danger for the Gulf Coast of the hurricanes becoming much stronger because it was passing over unusually warm waters in the gulf. The waters in the gulf have been unusually warm. The oceans generally have been getting warmer. And the pattern is exactly consistent with what scientists have predicted for twenty years. Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming. [applause] It is important to learn the lessons of what happens when scientific evidence and clear authoritative warnings are ignored in order to induce our leaders not to do it again and not to ignore the scientists again and not to leave us unprotected in the face of those threats that are facing us right now.


Study says global warming not worsening hurricanes

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science WriterMon May 19, 12:46 AM ET

Global warming isn't to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject.

Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday.

In the past, Knutson has raised concerns about the effects of climate change on storms. His new paper has the potential to heat up a simmering debate among meteorologists about current and future effects of global warming in the Atlantic.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, hurricanes have often been seen as a symbol of global warming's wrath. Many climate change experts have tied the rise of hurricanes in recent years to global warming and hotter waters that fuel them.

Another group of experts, those who study hurricanes and who are more often skeptical about global warming, say there is no link. They attribute the recent increase to a natural multi-decade cycle.


Gore wins $1 million prize from Israeli group

By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 51 minutes ago

Al Gore received a $1 million prize on Monday for his environmental work from an Israeli fund.

The Dan David Foundation awarded the former vice president its annual "present" prize for alerting the world to the crisis from the overuse of fossil fuels. It also gave prizes in "past" and "future" categories.

The Nobel laureate received the award at a ceremony at Tel Aviv University.

In his address, Gore said, "We do face a planetary emergency. The phrase sounds shrill to many, but it is unfortunately quite accurate."

Gore said 10 percent of the prize would go to young researchers and the rest to the Alliance for Climate Protection, an advocacy group he confounded and which works to change public opinion worldwide about the urgency of the climate crisis.

Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with the United Nations panel on climate change for their environmental work. After learning of his Nobel win, Gore said he was donating half his share of the prize money to the Alliance for Climate Protection.


Al Gore, the Prophet of Doom, has received another million dollar award. As Navin Johnson's black father in "The Jerk" said: "It's a white man's world."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iraq has become a Theatre of the Absurd

US military: soldier shot at Quran for practice
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD — An American soldier used a Quran, the Islamic holy book, for target practice in a predominantly Sunni area west of Baghdad, prompting an apology from the U.S. military, a spokesman said Sunday.

Separately, mortar shells slammed into a residential area north of the Iraqi capital, killing at least four people and wounding 30, most children playing outside, officials said Sunday.

The shelling occurred as clashes broke out in Shiite areas late Saturday despite a truce reached last week by Shiite politicians and followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Iraqi police found the bullet-riddled Quran with graffiti inside the cover on a small-arms range near a police station in Radwaniyah, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Col. Bill Buckner said in an e-mailed response to a query.

American commanders then launched an inquiry that led to disciplinary action against the soldier, who has been removed from Iraq, Buckner said.

The shooting, which occurred May 9 and was discovered two days later, threatened to further strain relations between the Americans and Sunni allies who have joined forces with them against al-Qaida in Iraq in Radwaniyah and other areas.

The incident was first reported by CNN, which broadcast a ceremony at which the top American commander in Baghdad apologized to tribal leaders in Radwaniyah.

"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond was quoted as saying by the network. "In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."

The commander also read a letter of apology by the shooter, and another military official kissed a Quran and presented it to the tribal leaders, according to CNN.

The military statement called the incident "serious and deeply troubling" but stressed it was the result of one soldier's actions and "not representative of the professionalism of our soldiers or the respect they have for all faiths."

"The commander...kissed a Quran. Actually, he kissed Iraqi ass.

Hattip: Sam who also caught this one.

Nouri al-Maliki Making Progress in Iraq

By all indications Nouri al-Maliki seems to be consolidating power and control in Iraq. in the last several months the Shiite militias, al-Qaida and Iran have felt his teeth.

In recent weeks, Iranian officials have complained that Iraq’s Shiite-dominated leadership is bowing too much to Washington. The Iranians are getting testy over Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s crackdowns in the past two months against Iranian backed Shiite militiamen. Tehran is appalled at the accusation that they are accused.

On Thursday, an Iranian diplomatic convoy approached a bridge leading to a Shiite shrine in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah and was shot at by Iraqi forces.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint on the bridge exchanged fire with the convoy’s guards in an argument that broke out when most of the Iranians refused to produce identification cards. This happened while Maliki has been personally supervising an Iraqi operation in Mosul which has rounded up and arrested over 1100 suspected al-Qaida sympathisers and operatives.

Tehran Lambastes US for (attempted?) Assassination of Iranian Diplomats in Iraq

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran blamed the United States on Friday after at least three of its diplomats were wounded in a Baghdad shooting, saying the Americans are encouraging attacks on Iranians in Iraq.

Iran issued a declaration on Friday condemning the attack against four of its diplomats in Iraq, calling the shooting and wounding of its embassy personnel in Baghdad an "assassination attempt".

The Islamic Republic accused US agents for carrying out a criminal action, and reiterated, "Occupation and terrorism are the two main factors of insecurity and instability in Iraq."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hoseini blamed "distrustful" US security measures for contributing to such incidents.

For the official, the slack and suspicious attitude of the US forces in security affairs has brought about increasing insecurity and nationwide concern.

Hosseini stressed that occupiers have the main responsibility for the security of diplomats and political and international centers established in Iraq.

"The onus is on the occupying forces to ensure security of embassy personnel in Baghdad. The distrustful safety measures taken by US military forces in Iraq have become a serious cause for concern as it is stoking instability in the country," Hosseini said.

"The Islamic Republic is determined to launch extensive investigations on the assassination attempt and will pursue the incident through Iraqi officials," Hosseini added.

The attack was carried out by a group of armed men against two vehicles taking Iranian diplomatic staff to the district of Kadhimiya, where they would visit the Imam Mussa al-Kazem shrine.

The action coincided last nigh with statements against Iran by US President George W. Bush during his Israel visit.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry report said unidentified gunmen in northern Baghdad fired on two SUVs carrying five employees and a driver - all of whom were transported to an Iraqi hospital for treatment.

The US military on Friday said the Iraqi Army found four wounded Iranian nationals in a vehicle near Baghdad on Thursday, and that the Iraqi police are investigating.

Col. Jerry O'Hara, a US military spokesman refuted Iraqi press reports that indicated American forces were involved.

Abortion: The Grotesque Right to Destroy

A Human Being at 20 Weeks

"Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide."
-John Adams, Letter, April 15, 1814

Thousands of women had four abortions
By Laura Donnelly and Melissa Kite

Thousands of British women have had four or more abortions, including dozens who have undergone six by the age of 30.

Figures uncovered by the Telegraph show that almost 4,000 women have had at least four abortions. In a "grotesquely bleak" picture of British society, scores of women have had at least eight terminations.

The figures emerged as the row over controversial changes to fertility law erupted into a bitter war of words, with a minister accusing "anti-abortion" MPs of trying to "hijack" legislation.

On the eve of a crucial Commons vote, Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health Minister, accused Tory backbenchers of an underhand attempt to remove the right to abortion by tabling amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

In an interview with the Telegraph, she also accused MPs who oppose the creation of hybrid embryos of putting forward "extreme and untrue arguments".

Nadine Dorries, the MP leading the campaign to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks, hit back at the criticism, while revealing that she has received hate mail over her stance. Miss Primarolo made her comments as the Government braced itself for a difficult two days of debate on the Bill, which has been denounced by Christian MPs and clerics.

Gordon Brown was forced to concede free votes on key aspects of the legislation after three Roman Catholic members of his cabinet made clear they would vote against the measures. A free vote will also be allowed on abortion amid unease about the number of late terminations carried out for "social" reasons.

It emerged on Saturday that NHS doctors were refusing to carry out late procedures and that 75 per cent of the 7,000 terminations performed after 17 weeks of pregnancy each year were being carried out at private clinics and charities.

Department of Health figures uncovered by this newspaper show that during 2006 more than 3,800 women underwent at least their fourth abortion, including more than 1,300 who were on their fifth or more. Of more than 60,000 women who underwent a "repeat" abortion, almost 15,000 were on their third.

These included 65 women who had their sixth abortion by the age of 30, and 82 girls aged under 18 who had already experienced three, and more than 50 women who had had eight abortions or more.

On Saturday night, campaigners for legal changes expressed shock at the picture uncovered. Dr Peter Saunders, general secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said: "This is just so grotesquely bleak." He said the situation was "approaching the sorts of things we used to hear about Soviet Russia.

"When you try to imagine a woman who has had eight abortions, or perhaps more, it is absolutely clear that she is using it as a form of contraception." Meanwhile, Ms Primarolo criticised Conservatives who have tabled abortion votes, including Ms Dorries, saying she did not believe them when they said they were simply trying to reform the law.

She said: "If they are being honest, they are saying they don't like abortion. They want to prevent it entirely and they see that gradually changing the time limit down is the way to do it, because there isn't support to completely change the '67 Act.

"This Bill is so important and, frankly, it's been hijacked and it's not right."

Ms Dorries pointed out that the Embryology Bill had been specifically drafted to allow abortion amendments and that ministers had initially hoped it would offer Labour MPs a chance to liberalise abortion further. Now that this had backfired, they were complaining.

"They don't like it because it has not gone their way," she said. The Mid-Bedfordshire MP added: "I'm an advocate of fast, safe, free access to abortion, especially in the first trimester. My only problem is with late abortion."

She revealed in an article in the Telegraph on Saturday that she has received hate mail for her stance. The word "bitch" was smeared on her window and dismembered dolls posted to her.

"The number of abusive phone calls, emails and letters we have received are too numerous to mention," she said.

Abortion by numbers:

  • 22,000 abortions in England and Wales in 1968, the first year they were legal
  • 193,700 in 2006
  • Of these 7,123 carried out after 17 weeks
  • 3,000 carried out after 20 weeks, a 44% increase in a decade
  • 2,000 carried out on the grounds that the child would be born handicapped
  • 7,400 carried out on non-UK residents
  • 24% of abortions undertaken by NHS
  • 67% carried out at independent clinics under NHS contracts
  • 9% self-funded
  • £500 is the average cost of an abortion up to 12 weeks involving no anaesthetic
  • 33% of British women will have an abortion by the age of 45 (excluding Northern Ireland)