Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is anyone really surprised...

...That the Iraq Study Group will recommend a pullout (sort of). This sort of compromise between staying and leaving offers the worst of both approaches.

The liberals will hail the brave ("realistic") recommendation of the James Baker-led ISG to meet with the Syrians and the Iranians (as if any serious person could believe either have something constructive to offer). While doing so, they will conveniently forget the criticism they leveled against Baker in his previous dealings with the Iranians.

As I've said many times, what is missing in discussions of this war is a determination to do anything and everything necessary to achieve victory. We've become soft. Until we're willing to totally crush our enemy--Islamic fundamentalism--wherever it may reside, we're not taking this war seriously enough.

h/t Charles, Captain Ed, and nearly everybody else.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I am honored... be the anonymous reader in the update here.

The flying imams: Another look

In today's Washington Times Audrey Hudson reviews the behavior of the flying imams: "How the imams terrorized an airliner." Here is information on the seat belt extenders that I have not seen reported elsewhere:

Three of the men asked for seat-belt extenders, although two flight attendants told police the men were not oversized. One flight attendant told police she "found this unsettling, as crew knew about the six [passengers] on board and where they were sitting." Rather than attach the extensions, the men placed the straps and buckles on the cabin floor, the flight attendant said.

(Emphasis added.) The story also discusses the seating of the imams on the plane, including the apparent fact that two of the imams moved from their assigned seats to first class:

The imams who claimed two first-class seats said their tickets were upgraded. The gate agent told police that when the imams asked to be upgraded, they were told no such seats were available. Nevertheless, the two men were seated in first class when removed.

With two of the imams in first class, the six imams were positioned on the plane from front to back:

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

Greg Lang of takes a look at the seat belt extenders. In a message summarizing his research, he writes:

I believe the seat belt extensions create a serious airline security threat. This is one heck of a weapon that has been overlooked. Basically the "heavy" head of this is very heavy with both the latch and the belt adjuster lock thing. In a weapon sense it's a lot like a padlock on a chain or in prison a canned item in a sock. A solid blow to the head can disable and the strap can be used to choke or restrain. I was astounded that these were [allowed for use as] carry on items.

I close with a quote from former Minnesota Senator and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights Rudy Boschwitz:

There you are at the gate about to kiss your wife and kids goodbye and the imams begin praying. Would you walk away and let the family go forward? Or would you be much relieved if the airline said: hold on, we ought to check these guys out. Give me a break and not this liberal bullshit.

The airline acted prudently just as it should have.

UPDATE: A reader who asks not to be identified adds:

I am an airline captain at a major national airline. On the subject of seat belt extensions, at my airline, we carry them onboard and I wasn't aware that they could be purchased elsewhere. These extensions have a legitimate place onboard. They are used by our larger passengers who are unable to fasten the seatbelt absent an extension (and if you've spoken to this point already, I've missed it).

That these extensions could be used as improvised weapons is not something that our crews are unaware of. There are many, many innocuous items that can become deadly. You've already cited a canned item in a sock (I wonder how many passengers think the flight attendant is simply being overly thrifty with the soft drink can when she wants to only dispense a glass at a time?). A belt with a heavy buckle would serve the same purpose. Sturdy pens can be stabbing weapons. The list of improvised weapons is only limited by the ingenuity of those who might use them.

The larger point I'd like to make is that, despite the increased level of TSA scrutiny we all go through, it is unrealistic to expect that airplanes would be weapons-free zones. Prisons cannot be made weapons-free despite strip searches and controls on contraband.

Although without knowing more details of what actually went on in this case, it is difficult to know exactly how I might have reacted, from what I've read, it appears that the crew did the right thing. These imams were behaving oddly enough that, knowing what I know now, I think I would have had them removed too.

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's for the Children...

Don't cha' know.

h/t Gerald

"Civil War"...

...according to NBC. I have to disagree that Iraq is in a civil war now. Certainly the sectarian violence is troubling. However, wide parts of the country are basically at peace. The violence level in Iraq is less than many parts of the world now considered to be at peace. I guess that "civil war" thing gets around.

Either that, or NBC is editorializing.

Update...via Glenn, here. (Isn't The Prospect a liberal rag? Or am I thinking of The American Prospect? Are they related? Should we alert Matt Lauer?)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Range Report...

I finally made it to an IDPA match yesterday, and my recent absence showed. Ivan challenged me with long shots (one at 25 yds). I could probably make the case that my poor results are due to shooting new 180 grain ammo. I do think that my Glock doesn't like it, but that is a slim crutch to stand on. My results are mine--not the ammo's.

It was nice to get to the range again, but I just can't go six weeks and expect to make my shots.

Oh, now here's something new...


The D's are planning to investigate Bush to death. They are still smarting from the impeachment of their last President--a man of dubious character. [Side note: They recently ran out of their party the one Democrat with moral clarity.] Their investigations will amount to nothing, but their media accomplices will make mountains out of any molehills that might exist (e.g. Scooter Libby).

I am afraid that the D's are not taking the GWOT seriously at all. They are ostriches--hoping that it will all just go away. This is going to be a long two years.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Power Line Forum

Although they've been operating it for a month or so, the guys at Power Line have started a Forum. One of the things missing, IMO, on their blog is the ability to comment. This Forum solves this problem.

In the first thread I look at, the question is asked: "Who is the enemy?" And I reproduce here the second answer in full.

It’s time we realize that the Islamic fanatics worship Satan by another name.

In order to know and understand the truth of the evil nature of our Islamic enemy, I watched the Paul Johnson beheading video shortly after the poor man was decapitated by the Islamic fanatic Zarqawi (Thank you God, George Bush and the American Military for removing this scum from existence).

What I saw was an innocent man pleading for his life, and then the knife being applied to the side of his neck, and then the screams of terror as the knife began to cut, and then the thrashing for a shred of hope of life, terrible screams unlike anything I’ve heard, and then after what seemed an eternity, the knife finally reaching the windpipe, and the gurgling sounds, still attempts to scream in horror, still the knife cut deeper, reaching the spinal chord, where the sawing motion became more vigorous and violent in order to get through the bone, still, unbelievably, screams and gurgles, until the moment that Paul’s head was more detached than attached - then the screams stopped, although there was still, even now, gurgling, attempts to put a voice to experiencing the ultimate horror, until the head was finally severed completely, and Paul’s murderers were finished killing innocence in the name of Allah as far too many Muslims are prone to do.

All the while, the Islamic animals in the room, screaming in Arabic, god is good, god is merciful, glory to god. They were reveling in this slaughter of innocence. They call their false god Allah. After watching this video, I now know that the Allah worshiped by this type of Islamic fanatic is just Satan by another name.

Because of these animals, we are forced into a corner. That corner is coming to the conclusion that the enemy is Islam. Surely not every Muslim, but Islam nonetheless.

I hate to say it. I really, really hate to say it. I want to give all people the benefit of the doubt, and I don’t like to paint with a brush any broader than necessary. But sooner or later all freedom loving people will realize it, so I’ll just say it again now.

The enemy is Islam.

It doesn’t feel good to even think it, but sometimes the truth hurts. I wish that all the people who think it would have the balls to say it.

It is regrettable. I know that all individual Muslims are not the problem. That would be an asinine conclusion for one to draw. Good people and bad people come in all stripes.

The enemy is Islam, not because all Muslims are evil, but because a very significant number are. One cannot ignore the fact that the driving force behind the hatred of the Islamo-fascists is the religion of Islam. They believe that in waging Jihad, they are following the will of Allah, and these fanatic Muslims exist in sufficient numbers to draw the conclusion that Islam must be dealt with as an enemy. The remainder will not or cannot speak out or rise up against their fanatic Islamic brethren, at least not in numbers that matter. At some point, we will be unable to afford the luxury of trying to discern which Muslims are peace loving (the ones that don’t strictly follow the Koran, in other words) and which ones want to kill your children in the most agonizing ways imaginable. Therefore we must see the enemy as he wishes us to see him. The fundamentalists want a holy war, and we have no choice but to engage them on those terms, or eventually be exterminated.

If we aren’t willing to even admit who and what our enemy is, we will lose the epic war for the survival of western civilization, and either be killed, or live under Sharia Law in Dhimmitude. Dhimmitude would not be a good life for anyone.

And for those who morally equate the Islamic death cult with American Christian fundamentalists or the Jewish state of Israel, all I can say is you ought to live in the real world and take off your ideological blinders. To equate American Christians with the Taliban, or the retributions of the Israelis against the Palestinian butchers of innocents as has been done by Leftists is intellectually dishonest, and shows a commitment to ideology before truth.

I guess I can say one other thing. In the coming war against the evil of Islamo-fascist Jihad, America is the last, best hope for the West. The Muslims are going to force everyone to choose a side, and those who wish to remain neutral will eventually understand that neutrality is not in the Islamic plan. And I think when push comes to shove, whiners and moral relativists will cling to the coat-tails of traditional American greatness, the mighty American military, and whomever else is given the charge of protecting you and your family.

Welcome to the Jihad. The enemy is Islam, whether you want it or not, because the Islamic fanatics do, and they’re the relevant Muslim coalition that we are forced to contend with.

I can't say I disagree. We're fighting the entire religion. Certainly not every practicianer is a bad person who wishes us dead. But enough of them do that I have to suspect the entire faith. The sooner we realize that we're in a war between Islam and Liberty, and fight it with that knowledge, the better.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hey, Sears...

It looks like you're missing a couple of tools...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Rant on Copilots (and their Hats)...

I recently finished two trips which were much more difficult than they otherwise should have been. Bad copilots on both parts.

Copilot #1...
Just about the first thing he says when we meet is that we need to be on time on the last leg...then four days in the future. He's got a close connection to the last flight of the night. I've got no problem with this as I'm a commuter too and understand completely. Then, on the second day, he wants to switch legs so that he doesn't have to land in the same place twice. I agree, but wonder: On the day he retires, will the number of landings here vs. there make any difference to anybody? (And I notice that this change makes the last leg his.) He has a habit of taking off his shoes, which is somewhat unusual. At one point in the trip, we speak about the good workout room on the last layover. On the last day, he asks if I minded if he dried out his gym clothes. I (reluctantly) was just one leg, and I'd be done with him. Then, as he's standing after draping his wet gym clothes throughout the cockpit, I detect an odor of something. I wonder: Did he just fart, or do his gym clothes come complete with skidmark? I try not to answer.

He did have a hat (more on that later), and a coat. The hat rarely touched his head and spent most of the time on a second hook on his suitcase. The coat fit him, oh maybe, 20 pounds ago, so it didn't often get buttoned.

Copilot #2...
I notice right away that he doesn't have a coat. Well, that's not exactly right. He has a coat, just not a uniform coat. It's more of a windbreaker. No hat in evidence though. The conversation on our first leg is pleasant enough, but it becomes clear to me (and probably to him) that we aren't going to agree on much. He was angry that the pilot's pension was lost while everybody else retained theirs. I explain my belief that our pension was probably just a ghost anyway and about the divorce cons I'd heard go on. He says that we'd be better off if we were a more hard-core union. I think: Great. I'm flying with one of those guys who thinks that we're pussies unless we go past the point of threatening to Burn-the-House-Down, but actually throw the gas and light the match. Never mind that we're in bankruptcy. Never mind the conditions of the rest of the industry. It was all about how we sold out too early. Anyway, again, the conversation wasn't unpleasant, but we soon drift into our own silences. On the second leg, I got to the airplane a bit before him. As he arrives, he asks if I've done the walk-around. I say "No", and off he goes--coatless--for his mid-November walkaround. [A small digression on walkarounds...While he may think I'm being a prick for not jumping at the opportunity for a walkaround, I don't think so. If you've paid attention at all on that other forum, you can probably guess at why I don't really like to get too far away from the cockpit without packing up at least a portion of my stuff. I use the time while the F/O is outside to brief the Flight Attendants. I don't really like most F/As, but I do have to work with them. It is up to me to set an environment where they want to work with me rather than for me. Also, I told myself when I got hired that I'd do half the walkarounds over my career. Guess what? I've already done my half. And finally, the surest way to get me to never do a walkaround is to somehow intimate that you expect it.] His leg into LGA is a challenging one. The weather was low and the winds were near crosswind limits. Most pilots would keep the automation on until we saw the runway, but this guy does otherwise. He clicks off the autopilot and autothrottles and flies manually. There's nothing procedurally wrong with this, but it does make things harder than they need to be. Once we break out, he was lined up on the downwind (right) side of the runway, further making things difficult for himself. The landing was good for LGA and the conditions (read: "firm"). On the approach on his second leg (second day), he again turned off all the automation. We didn't have the weather conditions to deal with this time, but again he lined up on the right side of the runway. I wonder: Is this a trend? [Another digression--this one on his hat. On the third day, his hat makes a brief appearance, from deep inside his roll-aboard, as we change planes in ATL.] His last leg was the real doozy. The weather in LAX was right at minimums. We were very close to needing me to do a Cat II or Cat III approach. So what does our intrepid aviator do? Yeah. You guessed it. He again turns off all the automation and hand-flies the approach. A Cat I autoland would have been perfect here, but that doesn't occur to Steve Canyon. He manages to find the centerline this time, but he wipes off the power at about 25 feet (767) and absolutely crushes the landing. I mean--it was awful. We taxi to the gate in silence. At the gate, he packs up his stuff, we exchange pleasant, but not warm goodbyes, he says goodbye to about a third of our passengers, and then in one of the biggest displays of cowardice I've ever seen, he leaves. I'm left to put my face to what is probably the worst landing experience our passengers have ever been through. No stones at all. None.

Epilogue...Here are the common threads:
  • I had F/As question me on the behavior out of both these guys. The first less-so than the second, but in both the non-conformity was easily noted. The second guy was a bit abrasive with a couple of the girls. One of the F/As in the crushing landing later complained of back pain (after Steve had left). Not good at all (and later, I thought that I should have asked if this was OJI back pain, or just back pain.) They both cut a wide swath.
  • Both these two guys have trouble with the hat. If you're out to make me wonder if you're about to ask for special treatment, do non-standard things in the cockpit, and make me think that I'm going to have to watch for sub-par flying skills, not wearing the hat is a good signal. I'll be able to see you coming a mile off.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some random thoughts...

...On the election.

Janet Napolitano struck me as all too smug. She's a crafty politician, and she's entitled to enjoy her victory, but she has already taken her "mandate" too far.

There was a discussion on talk radio this AM that JD Hayworth might be able to overturn the results of his defeat with the 100,000 ballots that still needed to be counted. A long shot. I imagine that his "Foghorn Leghorn" act has worn thin in tony Scottsdale and smarter-than-thou Tempe.

The D's appear to be on the edge of making too much of their victory. They have succeeded in serving up the thumpin' (to use Bush's words), but their victory is still less than average for seats won on off-year elections in a President's second term. The House has not much more of a Democratic majority than the Republicans had. The Senate may stay in Republican hands, with razor-close races in Virginia and Montana, although at this writing that appears to be a thin thread. If the D's intend on unending investigations and an impeachment, they're kidding themselves. The Democratic leadership appears to be much more liberal than the successful candidates who have put them in the majority. Caution would be advised. The inmates are now in charge of the asylum.

And in addition to the "thumpin'", the D's have now placed Rumsfeld's head on their pike. Rummy took the heat far longer than Ashcroft did (the other liberal villan). Bush's immediate replacement of Rumsfeld is a stroke of genius, IMO. Now the ball is fully in the D's court. They will have to quickly confirm and just as importantly, work with Gates, or face the deserved criticism of being a "Do-nothing" majority.

At Bush's press conference this morning announcing the change at SecDef, he appeared a but subdued. Although he said we were staying in Iraq to win, the change in Congress may make this difficult to pull off. I just hope the Democrats who hate Cheney more than they fear the Islamists can pull their heads out of their asses.

I'm wondering how long Stevens and Ginsberg have on the Court. Now that a right-wing (read: Originalist) nominee is unlikely to get through the Senate, perhaps they'll be leaving.

I linked to this a week or so back. I hope this is like a bad sci-fi movie and not prologue.


This morning I sat in front of a couple of guys engaged in an interesting conversation. We were headed from Phoenix to Los Angeles, and one of the guys wondered if we'd be able to see the Grand Canyon. Also in the conversation was a discussion of where the Continental Divide was. And one of them named to the Salton Sea as Lake Mead.

I realize that I see these things much more frequently than most people do, and that it is my business to have an understanding of where we're headed, but I wonder: Is basic geography ever taught and understood? Is it too much to know that the Grand Canyon is north of Phoenix, and that this flight is headed west?

Monday, November 06, 2006


Chris Muir spanks the Democrats.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thomas Friedman... an idiot. Its been some time since I "fisked" an article, so here's another attempt.

Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence
by Thomas L. Friedman

Every time you hear George Bush or Dick Cheney lash out against John Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, They must think I'’m stupid. Because they surely do.

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think youÂ’re stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry- a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.
Three paragraphs into the article and the "chickenhawk" meme comes out. You'd think the liberals would be tired of repeating themselves. For the record, Bush and Cheney aren't running for office either. Bush served honorably (contrary to what Dan Rather thinks) in the Guard. Cheney got deferments, not unlike many of the time. And, in this country, it is a good thing that we pride ourselves in the civilian control of our military.
Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, They must think I'm stupid.” Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team'’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry a’s a mangled gibe at the president.
Nobody has had to hype or exaggerate Kerry's gaffe. It stands on its own.
What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men — to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?
The "Powell Doctrine" carries with it the idea that your overwhelming force will prevent the Iraqis from bringing on their own forces. What of Powell's Pottery Barn Rule--"You break it, you've bought it"? How would the Murthians settle this score? The "Rumsfeld Doctrine" balances the immediate military needs with not keeping an overbearing force in country. What would the incentive be for the Iraqis to develop their own military if we were there doing everything necessary?
What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld’s response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you’ve got — get over it.
Some of the responsibility for not enough proper equipment ought to properly rest with Congress and President Clinton...and with that ordinary Americans of all stripes who have become accustomed to their entitlements. The decision to add armor to HMMVVs did not come easinitiallyy were initally unarmored because without the extra weight,maneuverablere maneuverable. Adding the weight of the armor also adds to suspension problems and the likelihood of rollover accidents. Compare Rumsfeld's quote to...
Once, during the Siege of Boston, when almost nothing was going right and General Schuyler had written from Albany to bemoanWashingtonbles, Washington had replied that he understood but that "we must bear up against them, and make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish</span>." [emphasis added]
1776, David McCullough pg 256.
What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories from Cobra II to “Fiasco” to State of Denial all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and weÂ’ve been making it up— and paying the price ever since.

Look. What Friedman and the rest of the liberals don't get is that the enemy has a vote in what happens as much as we do. We are still very much in this war. He wants a plan--a timeline--for every step of the war, and fails to account that the enemy will throw up roadblocks every chance the can. You always make up the "plan for the morning after". Whatever plan you started with is your first casualty.
And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they are fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we’re addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing — demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.
Changing not just our, but the world's reliance on oil, will take generations. It is not just George Bush's fault. And we have to have a viable alternative energy source in sufficient quantities to replace oil. If it was so easy, someone would have already done it.
Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.
Note to Tom: Karl Rove hasn't had to do anything here. The Kerry gaffe was caught by a radio station reporter. It was posted to, and it took off like wildfire from there. It's just a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rove read about this on his Blackberry.
And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our countryÂ’s health, prove him wrong this time.
And just what is the relevance of the connection to cigarettes? Has Bush or Rove spoken at all about Big Tobacco?
Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.
You know, there is tons of military advice (Also see this for a defense of Rumsfeld) that says that this war is winnable. It is very difficult now, and Bush has been forthcoming on this point from the start.
Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.
Ah yes. It is self-evident that if the Repubicans don't lose the House and Senate, then our democracy is doomed. "Tattered". "Polluted".
It means we're as stupid as Karl thinks we are.
Speak for yourself, Tom.
I, for one, don'’t think we're that stupid. Next Tuesday we'll see.
Yes, we will. I'm betting the R's hold both Houses and the D's go crazy (again).

Edit: Lots of formatting problems coming from the cut-and-paste of Friedman's column. I got most of them, but not all.

So Iran wants nuclear power...

Guess who else does? A better question might be: Who doesn't?

h/t ahem at Jeff's place.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The reasons for the War in Iraq...

Told ya' so. Even the NYT says so now.

Paul at Powerline weighs in.

And, of course, Captain Ed is all over it.