Thursday, January 01, 2009
White Hart Tavern (IV)
IHT - Case for retirement visa in United States may gain new traction
Case for retirement visa in United States may gain new traction
Nov 26 2008 10:05 am
Posted by Kevin Brass in News, General
Estate agents in the United States hope a new administration in Washington D.C. will kick start talks for a retirement visa, the so-called “silver card” which would allow foreigners to easily retire in the U.S.
“I’m encouraged,” said Tony Macaluso, the Florida-based agent championing the visa.
The retirement visa is one of those ideas that’s so simple and makes so much sense it’s amazing that it’s never been adopted. While countries like Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Belize present a variety of programs to encourage international pensioners to buy homes, the U.S. offers no simple path for a foreign citizen to retire in places like Florida and California.
Although details still need to be hashed out, a retirement visa would allow foreign citizens of a certain age with a steady pension fund income and a few other verifiable requirements to retire in the U.S. without a hassle.
“There are a lot of people around the world who would love to enjoy their golden years in the U.S. and we don’t have a way for them to do it,” said Macaluso, who served as the 2008 international operations chairman for the National Association of Realtors and now fills a similar role with the Florida Association of Realtors.
However, it’s been difficult to gain traction for the concept in the midst of the emotional and often acrimonious debate over immigration in the U.S. No one was eager to jump on a concept that would encourage immigration, even though, by definition, pensioners would be unlikely to pose a national security risk.
But times have changed, in many ways. The financial crisis may change the tenor of the debate.
“This is not an immigration proposal; it’s an economic proposal,” Macaluso said.
A recent study commissioned by NAR found 7.5 percent of foreign citizens polled expressed an interest in retiring in the U.S.—an unassuming number that could translate to millions of potential buyers, Macaluso says. That could provide a much-needed boost for markets like Florida, California and Colorado.
“If this was in place by now, a lot of inventory would be absorbed and prices would be strengthened because we would have an active market,” Macaluso said.
Macaluso senses a new enthusiasm for crafting legislation for Congress to consider, something that hasn’t happened yet. With other issues higher on the agenda, the NAR has been slow to move on the measure, but he believes the Florida group will find a legislator willing to carry the measure.
“A lot of members [in Florida] are impatient,” Macaluso said.
JG - Islam, Judaism speak out
Islam, Judaism speak out
published: Sunday November 16, 2008
TO TAKE a life of a murderer is to save the life of many, says Sheikh Musa Tijani of the Islamic Council of Jamaica.
"When someone kills and he knows he will be killed, he thinks twice to do it and that will make people live in peace and harmony," he says.
Tijani, who is head of education and Dawah (which means calling people to the religion), says the Koran teaches that capital punishment is the law of God, and robbery and murder of the innocent are crimes punishable by death.
He says if Jamaica reimplements capital punishment, the island's ghastly murder rate is likely to be reduced.
"That is one thing that can help to solve the problem if they utilise it properly," he comments. By that he means the State must act fairly in carrying out capital punishment.
"In Islam, we believe that everybody has to be under the law; no one should be above the law; everybody has to get the same punishment," he adds.
That the innocent could inadvertently be killed in the process of carrying out capital punishment should be no excuse for discarding the system, Tijani states. He says the occurrences of such cases are minimal and all that needs to be done is to improve the process of investigation to minimise such occurrences.
The rights of the victim
"That is what happens in every country. So, as long as it is not a [deliberate attempt] to kill the person, then you cannot use it as an excuse not to perform it. When you talk about human rights, what about the rights of the victim?" questions Tijani.
The stance on capital punishment is not so clearly defined by the world's oldest religion, Judaism.
Spiritual leader Ainsley Henriques says Judaism strongly advocates preserving life, but will subscribe to the observance of capital punishment if it is the law of the land.
"We acquiesce to the majority consideration in this regard, recognising, however, that as far as we are concerned, life is a sacred blessing," he says.
He adds that modern Jewish thought is opposed to capital punishment, but might support its observance in extreme circum-stances. There has only been one execution in the history of the modern state of Israel for crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust.
S&S - Number of overseas voters may break records in ’08
Number of overseas voters may break records in ’08
By Geoff Ziezulewicz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Sunday, October 26, 2008
USAREUR mailing election ballots for free
Haven’t mailed your absentee ballot yet?
Starting Thursday, voters who use Army post offices in Europe will be able to send their ballots express mail for free, U.S. Army Europe announced Thursday.
"All the Army Post Offices in Europe are providing free express mail delivery … in order to get the ballots back to county election commissions by state deadlines," Lt. Col. Harry Turasz, USAREUR voting assistance officer, said in a command release.
Voters also will be able to track their ballots, as the Military Postal Service Agency, which oversees APOs and Naval Service Fleet post offices, has begun to use bar-coded mail tracking.
Those who wish to track their vote should ask the post office for a bar code and information on how to go online to follow the progress of the ballot to their home state.
The MPSA program, dubbed "Track Your Vote," is a service being used at military post offices worldwide.
For more information on voting, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program online at www.fvap.gov.
— Stars and Stripes
Organizations dedicated to helping overseas voters cast their ballot this year are reporting unprecedented rates of participation over the past few months as Election Day and absentee ballot deadlines near.
The Defense Department’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, which assists all U.S. voters overseas, reported about 10.5 million visits to www.fvap.gov this year as of Oct. 19, up from 7.3 million visits for all of 2004.
The site provides absentee voter information by state, and about 15,000 user accounts have been set up in which voters can fill out and generate state-specific absentee ballot request forms, according to Army Lt. Col. Les’ Melnyk, a FVAP spokesman.
The Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonprofit voter advocacy group, averaged about 32,000 visits a day in September to www.overseasvotefoundation.org and other OVF-supported sites, such as obama.overseasvotefoundation.organd mccain.overseasvotefoundation.org.
This is the first election in which presidential candidates have offered such services to overseas voters, according to Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, head of OVF.
"Nothing like this was on the Kerry or Bush campaigns," she said. "It didn’t exist yet."
Numerous states have also signed on with OVF to use the group’s Web site programs, which offer everything from absentee ballot information by state to a tool that helps voters fill out and request absentee ballots based on their state’s unique requirements.
The OVF sites saw more than 3.5 million visitors this year and nearly half a million visits alone in the first week of October, Dzieduszycka-Suinat said.
"All measures point toward more votes coming in from the military and overseas than ever," she said. "We are very curious to see how this affects actual turnout and whether election officials are able to cope with this massive increase."
About 145,000 absentee ballots were mailed to overseas military voters between Sept. 8 and Oct. 14, according to the Military Postal Service Agency. While some states now offer fax and e-mail transmission of ballots, snail mail is still the most common delivery option.
While MPSA representative Shari Lawrence said the agency didn’t have ballot transmission numbers for the 2004 election cycle, about 119,000 overseas military ballots were mailed out from election offices in 2006. Of those, only about half were counted, according to the federal Election Assistance Commission.
Of the 145,000 ballots MPSA handled from the States, about 104,000 voted ballots were mailed back to the States as of Oct. 14.
About 13,000 of the ballots coming from the States were returned because they were undeliverable as addressed, according to the MPSA.
Despite what appears to be an increase in military voter participation this year, Dzieduszycka-Suinat said the primary problem continues to be troops not getting their ballots in time to vote.
The OVF site offers an electronic version of the federal write-in absentee ballot, an emergency ballot for federal elections available if a registered overseas voter didn’t receive their state’s absentee ballot in time.
While improvements are being made at various levels to help overseas military voters, challenges remain, Dzieduszycka-Suinat said.
"I still have reports from military guys who haven’t gotten their ballots in eight years," she said.
JO - Remove that archaic provision
Remove that archaic provision
Sunday, May 11, 2008
After almost 11 years on the job, Mr Danville Walker has resigned as director of elections, following the issue of American citizenship.
Pursuant to sub item 2(f) of the Schedule to the Representation of the People (Interim Electoral Reform) Act of 1979, no members of the Electoral Commission, including the director, shall be eligible to serve as a member if he "is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign state or power". This provision essentially mirrors that of the eligibility of parliamentarians.
Section 12 of the said Act provides that the director of elections, as all other major functionaries of the Electoral Office, shall, while so serving, be disqualified from voting in any election in Jamaica, whether at the parliamentary or parish council level. Understandably, this provision seeks to ensure the impartiality of the electoral office in managing the country's elections.
Inasmuch as there is this need for impartiality, and given the historic political landscape of Jamaica, it would appear sensible that the director of elections need not be a Jamaican. For, having a foreigner in place, we could almost guarantee that such a person would be able to execute the functions of the office or manage our elections without any bias in favour or against either of our major political parties.
If anything, I believe our national security interests are more likely to be compromised by having foreign members in the constabulary force than having a neutral person serving as director of elections.
The anachronistic provision in the Representation of the People (Interim Electoral Reform) Act of 1979 should be removed.
Kevin KO Sangster
New Jersey, USA
JG - Upholding the Constitution
Upholding the Constitution
published: Sunday May 11, 2008
The Editor, Sir:
If a citizen of Jamaica pledged allegiance to the United States, he or she should not be allowed to partake in Jamaica's election. These measures undermine Jamaica's democratic development, judicial independence and the possibility of free and fair process.
The United States is a foreign power that is not a member of the Commonwealth and does not bear allegiance to our Commonwealth heads of state. A perfect example would be the governor of California, a born citizen of another country. Would they change their constitution so that he might one day become president of the United States? Only a citizen of another Commonwealth country should be allowed such right or privilege.
Why can't Jamaicans learn to respect their tradition and the law of the land? The Constitution is for a reason, and why should the court or Government make changes to accommodate dual citizens?
Rich sense of duty
The Honourable Chief Justice Zaila McCalla, who ruled in this situation, protected Jamaica's sovereignty. I salute her rich sense of duty and national pride to uphold Jamaica's Constitution. Jamaica needs more like her.
I am, etc.,
This letter is part of an ongoing discussion in Jamaica regarding a Constitutional prohibition on dual citizens holding government office.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
re: "The Christmas Trip and Other Observations... "
"While waiting for a flight out, I saw a ‘gentleman’ come walking up to the helipad. I use the term ‘gentleman’ in the respect that he was in a Brooks Brothers suit jacket, and the rest of the outfit, from his arrow shirt to his Bally shoes screamed “Washington D.C. Bigwig” and was bec’ fin. As in tres chic. Well, what the hell he was doing travelling with us ‘commoners’ was beyond me. Usually dudes dressed like him are chartered their own birds, complete with heavily armed gunship escorts. Well, Mr DC as I’ll call him, well, he was obviously expecting the aforementioned treatment, and obviously, he wasn’t happy about flying ‘coach’ with us common swine. He was on a cell phone yelling at some poor bastard and lambasting the shit out of them, switching from Arabic to English and back and forth. Thing was he then started telling “Look, the flight leaves at “X” time and will be landing at “Y” time at helipad “Z”.
Whoa. Big Time NO-GO!!!"
"I waited til Mr DC was off the phone, and went over VERY politely and asked him if his cell phone was a NSA (No Such Agency) secured cell. He looked confused and told me no, at which point I delivered a VERY POLITE but firm admonishment to him about Operational Security, and that if I was going to be flying with him, I didn’t wan t him broadcasting to the fuckin bad guys all the info they need to bag us… I mean if he wants to kill himself, then fine, fucking go for it, but I’d rather make it home to my family. I also mentioned that since he WAS so high on the food chain, (State Department I later found out… like the Mo’Fo’ in Charge) that the Bad Guys were probably LOOKING to bag him, and please in the future don’t be so fucking clueless.As I was delivering this, his PSD handler (Personal Security Detachment) listened in, and was nodding like the whole time. He thanked me (politely right back atcha!) and rolled to get his bag. Later he came over and apologized pretty well for having been a dumbass, and that he was embarrassed that a contractor pointed this out to him, and that he should have known better. Either way, he was cool, and I got to correct someone WAAAAAAAAAY up on the Food Chain!!!"
Hat tip to Confederate Yankee ("Because liberalism is a persistent vegetative state.").
re: "Immigration Courts and the War on Terror"
"If this is representative, U.S. immigration courts could end up as the front line in the American legal war on terror.
Don’t you wonder how many Elzahabis there are in America … and how many more there may be after the GTMO detainees have their day in court?"
re: "Breakin’ Up Is Hard to Do"
"Do you think that Idaho and Utah will federate with California? Really? Or that the upper Midwest will fall under Canadian sway? Note that the population of Illinois alone is half that of all of Canada."
"(T)he Soviet Union’s grand tradition of disinformation is alive and well and living in Mother Russia."
"Russia is even more anti-American, if anything, than the old Soviet Union was.
Meanwhile, residents of the upper Midwest, rejoice! Things could be much worse than they are: you could be citizens of a country whose primary city was Chicago."
Saturday, December 27, 2008
re: "Send Caroline Kennedy to Court of St. James"
One thing he neglected to mention is that her grandfather, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., also held this appointment under FDR.
re: "Death and Dying in Chile" & "The Days before Christmas Eve "
"I'm wearing the dual hats of back-up American Citizen Services officer during the holidays and also the Embassy duty officer this week. So when the marines called around 11:30 p.m on Friday night, the ringing phone on my bed-side table wasn't a surprise. However, the caller was a stressed American woman who had returned to her apartment and found her roommate dead in the bathroom of carbon monoxide asphyxiation from the water heater."
Those are the calls that you hate to get. No matter how much you are able to do on behalf of the survivors, no matter how "well" you are able to handle arrangements for them, a fellow countryman (or countrywoman) is dead and it's not going to get any better.
The very best you are going to be able to do, is not make things any worse.
"It hasn't been easy, but hopefully I am able to provide some comfort and semblance of assistance to the family. This afternoon I'll probably go with the roommate and a friend to the mortuary to identify the woman and help coordinate arrangements with the funeral service here to return her home to the U.S. soon."
When the very worst happens to a loved one abroad, you want someone like this FSO working for you in that consular district. Reading between the lines, and having handled a number of "death cases," FSO Globetrotter isn't just going through all the steps and running down a checklist from some manual. Actually, he's probably doing those things too, but he's emotionally engaged as well. Good consular officers generally are, but there's a cost.
"My wife has been a tremendous support to me."
As has Madam-at-Arms to me, whenever I work on a case like this. FSOs are no longer (and rightly so) evaluated on their spouses' (in olden days, that meant wives') performance. But a lot of them rate gold stars nonetheless. If I could promote the lot of them, I would.
Later he wrote:
"It has been a hectic 4 1/2 days since the American citizen passed away, and helping their family back home make arrangements."
"On Christmas Eve day I went early to the funeral parlor to meet the friends and help take the deceased American to the airport for her flight home to the U.S. last night."
"Later we drove to the airport and I signed some more papers and paid the air cargo company for their services. The friends said their final goodbyes to the deceased, and then we left."
re: "Signals From The New C-in-C"
"Even as Iraq settles into a stable and largely peaceful normality --Iraqi Christians who fled during the period of the greatest violence are returning to the country, and Christmas was celebrated openly there yesterday-- and U.S. forces can be carefully drawn down, the demands in Afghanistan and elsewhere are mounting. As much as Democrats would love to replay the nineties and declare another "peace dividend," they can't do so without endangering basic U.S. security. As a matter of simple politics, the worst thing that the new president could do would be to shortchange the military and with it the security of the country."
(Bold type added by me. - CAA)
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
WP - Iraq Threatens to Expel Iranian Rebels. Exile Group Has Protected Status Under Soon-to-Expire U.N. Mandate.
"BAGHDAD, Dec. 21 -- Iraqi officials say they intend to expel members of an Iranian exile group living in a camp north of Baghdad that is protected by the U.S. military. The expulsion, which the Shiite-led government has long sought, is expected to become feasible once the U.N. mandate that regulates the presence of U.S. troops -- and which gave the Iranian opposition group protected status -- expires at the end of the year."
Actually, it's the Geneva Conventions and the laws of land warfare that give the PMOI "Protected" status, but only the presence of U.S./Coalition forces that make it a reality.
"The (Iraqi) government informed the group that it would soon assume responsibility for security at Camp Ashraf and that residents would be repatriated unless they find a third country willing to take them. The U.S. military currently protects Camp Ashraf, which is 40 miles north of Baghdad.
"Staying in Iraq is not an option for them," the government said in a statement issued Sunday. The Iranian government has long called for the group's expulsion."
The Iranian government would like to give them a fatal homecoming.
"The Shiite-led Iraqi government, which has close ties to Iran, has for years threatened to shut down Camp Ashraf because it regards the MEK, also known as the People's Mujaheddin Organization of Iran, as a terrorist organization.
The European Union and the U.S. State Department have also labeled the group a terrorist organization."
(Richard at EU Referendum ("To discuss issues related to the UK's position in Europe and the world") just posted something on Sunday about the EU's terrorist labeling of the PMOI being in violation of EU laws.)
"(M)embers could be executed if they are forced to return to Iran. The group has aggressively lobbied U.S. and European lawmakers and has relentlessly sought sympathetic coverage in the Western news media.
The MEK was founded in the 1960s as an opponent of the late shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It was accused of carrying out several attacks in Iran, including some targeting U.S. officials."
That's targeting as in killing-them-dead targeting. They also took place in the late-mid 1970's, and were considerably overshadowed by the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran (in which they may have taken part).
"Shortly after the 2003 invasion, the U.S. military persuaded the MEK to disarm and offered to protect the group. The arrangement was awkward because it tasked the U.S. military with sheltering a group that remains on the State Department's terrorism list."
A discussion of how and why the PMOI got on the State Department's terrorism list, while of historical interest, gets into domestic U.S. politics as well. I'm not going there today.
The PMOI went out of their way to avoid any military engagements with U.S. forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, even after U.S. forces bombed one (more?) of their camps. This has enabled them to remain consolidated and more-or-less intact at a single facility, Ashraf Camp, and while fully (2004?) disarmed, under the protection of U.S. and Coalition (Bulgarian Army?) forces ever since. They present themselves as a uniformed body of troops, under a recognizable chain of command operating under military discipline. Since the U.S. pays considerably more than lip service to the Geneva Conventions, they've presented quite a conundrum.
Monday, December 22, 2008
WP - "It's time to stop Pentagon mission creep." & "Taking Command. Actually, Democrats and the military can get along. Here's how."
As might be expected, Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive is much less polite in his deconstruction than was James Joyner in his commentary at Outside the Beltway.
UPDATE: Apparently I spoke too soon. Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive also tears a few strips off of Gen. Clark's hide.
re: "Booker - part 1"
"(T)he EU was reprimanded by its own courts for refusing to obey their ruling that it had acted illegally in outlawing Iran's main democratic opposition movement, the People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI).
This ever murkier and more bizarre story began back in 2001 when the British Government – solely, as it later admitted, at "the behest of the Teheran regime" – put the PMOI on its list of proscribed terrorist groups. In 2002 Britain persuaded the EU to add the PMOI alongside Al Q'eda to its own list of outlawed organisations. In 2006 the EU's Court of First Instance ruled this ban to be "unlawful".
In 2007 Britain twice persuaded the EU Council of Ministers to defy their own court’s ruling. This year, after a long court battle brought by 35 MPs and peers, including several ex-ministers, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, upheld a High Court ruling that the British Government had acted "perversely" in claiming that the PMOI was a terrorist organisation, for which it had brought no evidence, ordering it to lift the ban."
"(L)ast July President Sarkozy, as acting EU president, moved that the EU's ban should nevertheless remain. In October and again this month, the Court of First Instance again ruled that the EU must stop acting illegally. Furthermore the judges stated that, following the British court ruling, the British Government had failed in its legal duty to veto Sarkozy's move. They directed particularly trenchant criticism at the Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown for falsely claiming to the House of Lords that Britain could not have voted against Sarkozy's proposal because this would have meant the ban having to be lifted from all terrorist organisations."
"Last Wednesday the court brusquely rejected Sarkozy's plea, stating that the EU must comply with the law without any further delay. The same day in the European Parliament, in the presence of Mrs Maryam Rajawi, the leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (of which the PMOI forms a major part), a senior MEP, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, backed by 2000 parliamentarians from all over Europe, warned the Council of Ministers that obstructing implementation of the court's ruling would place it "at odds with the EU's judicial system and the European Parliament" and could "lead to a constitutional crisis within the EU". He sent a letter to Presidenr Sarkozy to warn him of ‘the dire consequences of France's disobeying the rule of law in Europe."
What makes this reckless contempt for the law truly incomprehensible is that the EU's only confessed motive is to appease the one genuinely terrorist regime in the Middle East. Its agents, the Revolutionary Guards, have done more than anyone to destabilise the entire region, from the Lebanon to Iraq and Afghanistan (including the supply of arms used to kill British troops), To this murderous theocratic dictatorship, the only real hope of a democratic secular alternative is Mrs Rajawi's NCRI and the PMOI, the very body the EU seems prepared to stop at nothing to suppress."
re: "the coalition is no more"
Sunday, December 21, 2008
re: "Respectable Anti-Semitism"
"Note his blithe assurance that fears of further assaults against America or Americans are mere phantasms -- that to concern oneself with the possibility marks one as paranoid, perhaps dangerously so. You'd think that one who lives in the Islamists' preferred target city, most of whose other residents are aware of Fort Dix, the Maryland snipers, the two attacks on the World Trade Center and the rooftop celebrations of them on the other side of the Hudson, might allow for a smidgen of doubt about that."
This is the luxury enjoyed by the protected, who are guarded so well and so invisibly that they effortlessly slip back to the "9/10" mindset.
"America has been fortunate, these seven years since Black Tuesday, to have averted any further mass attacks on its shores. Actually, "fortunate" isn't quite the right word. We've been quite capably protected by the deployment of a simple yet brilliant strategy: take the fight to the enemy's home turf. Our armed forces have gone to the homelands of the jihadist forces and have given them, if you'll pardon the expression, holy hell. Our expeditionary forces have drawn Islamist militancy back to its home, simultaneously concentrating our enemies where they can be dispatched en masse, keeping them away from America's homeland and civilian population, and liberating 50 million people from two of the worst totalitarian dictatorships ever to afflict this unhappy planet."
Some two million Americans serve in uniform at any given moment. Even when you add in the tens of thousands of reservists and guardsmen who've served since 9/11, plus all those who've been discharged (most honorably) or retired, and all those who've been wounded or killed; it's still only a fraction of the population of New York City alone. What a wonder so relatively few Americans have wrought!
"Had it not been for the swift and effective mobilization of America's military and security forces, there's no telling what further strikes al-Qaeda and its affiliates might have mounted against the United States. There had already been enough thrusts against us extraterritorially to give a thinking man pause. Because no such events have occurred here since 9/11, the microcephalics among us -- they dislike to be called "liberals;" apparently the word has acquired some unpleasant connotations -- have luxuriated in blissful denial of the threat from Islam-powered terrorism."
Many of us (myself included) have long thought our mobilization would have been more effective had it been, well, more.
re: "It is NOT Always About Politics"
"I understand that Washington is a political town and politics pervades everything, however I don’t think everything is reducible to politics alone, at least politics in the sense of the competitive game."
"Not everybody is motivated by politics – not even politicians – and especially not ordinary people. I have particular and strongly held political views, but between elections I want my President to succeed no matter what party and I want our Congress to work under the best possible conditions. In between elections, I don’t want to think about politics very much. Most people are like that except during tough political campaigns or when making a calls to talk radio or C-Span. Being politically aware all the time is just too exhausting.
Our system makes good or at least okay decisions most of the time. More important is our capacity to experiment and reinvent while maintaining the fundamental integrity of our structure. The fact that we enjoy the oldest living Constitution in the world and are second oldest continuous government in the world (after the Brits) is ample evidence of our stability."
"In America, it is possible to be prosperous, secure and successful w/o strong political connections. If you think about that for more than a minute and put it into historical context, that is truly amazing. Freedom FROM arbitrary government action and the capriciousness of petty officials is rare in history. We complain about our lack of freedom and opportunity, but we have (to paraphrase) the worst possible system … except for everything else."
This prediction may be premature.
re: "the impending Goetterdaemmerung that is Inauguration Day"
"(I)n addition to ten thousand tour busses and burdensome security requirements, there is also going to be an official poet."
"As if I needed another reason to leave town for all this."
Having participated in both the 1993 and 2001 inaugurations (how's that for bipartisan!) and having been dumped by my very serious girlfriend as we were preparing to go into Downtown D.C. to watch the 1997 inaugural fireworks, I am very pleased to note that I won't in town for this debacle.
How come I'm not hearing a lot of complaining in the press about the unnecessary extravagance of it all the way during these tough economic times the way I did before Bush's first inauguration?
re: "NO PARDON - NO WAY!"
"John Michael Spann was killed in the prison revolt at Mazar E Shiref. Lindh knew of the planned revolt and did nothing, because he was ans is a member of the Taliban and wanted to kill Americans."
"Lindh does not deserve a pardon, and if you ask me he got off lightly for his treasonous acts."
Saturday, December 20, 2008
re: "Political Madness — Some Hotspots"
"As Mark Steyn has warned for years, the Western attitude toward reports of terrorism is about as anti-empirical as one can imagine. We hear that Jewish hostages in Bombay were horrifically tortured, even as pundits assured us that the terrorists were symptomatic not of a cruel and evil radical strain of hateful Islamic fundamentalism, but of poverty and India's illiberality toward Muslim minorities (ergo — mad at Hindu extremists or the dominant culture? Then take a neighborhood Jewish fellow prisoner and torture and execute him and his wife?)."
"(A) large number of Americans (who wonder why seven years after 9/11 the killers are still traversing Pakistani provinces) are getting tired of the same old, same old, and might wish to wash their hands of Pakistan — and out-source the problem to India."
Friday, December 19, 2008
re: "BDS defined, in a shoe-throwing"
"I’m pretty sure Bush Derangement Syndrome is nothing more than adolescent angst because “their side” did not get to lead and reassure and hold-steady in a time of danger and uncertainty. It’s a larger demonstration of Bill Clinton’s regret that 9/11 did not happen on his watch, so he could have a chance to be a “great” and wartime president."
re: "Blackwater guard's statement at Smoking Gun"
"The case has many procedural difficulties, the primary being the law they are charged under does not apply to them, only to DoD contractors and military personnel and they are clearly State Department contractors. That alone should torpedo this, and regardless of the guilt or innocence of these men, using this law is a travesty."
"(U)nless the State Department is a subordinate unit of DoD, or they have subordinated their mission to DoD's then Blackwater employees definitely do not fall under this description. This is a case of the prosecutors attempting to steal a march by making their own incorrect finding that they were members of the Armed Forces. If say a Department of Energy contractor was sent along with a military team to help recover a nuke and he has a shoot out, that might fit this definition, but BW's guys absolutely not. The prosecutors also claim that since the military would have to guard the diplomats if BW didn't then they are performing a military function. BS again, State does not want military guards specifically to avoid being dependent on DoD. If it wasn't BW it would be GS civilians not soldiers."
re: "Tea with the Mujahedeen e Khalq"
"The MeK (or PMI) is a group of Iranians who left Iran about 20 years ago and established military-style training camps in Iraq (and other places) with the stated purpose of overthrowing the current Iranian regime. (See Wikipedia if you're interested in MeK and its history.) The U.S. and EU have designated the MeK a terrorist organization. Saddam Hussein was supportive of the MeK, but now the organization faces a dilemma in the new Iraq. The MeK turned over their weapons and signed a deal with the U.S. several years ago and have been living without incident at Camp Ashraf, where Coalition Forces provide security for the roughly 3000 MeK members.
A team from the Embassy flew to Camp Ashraf, joined by our military colleagues, to talk to the MeK about their status and their future after 2008, when the U.S. military will no longer have the authority to provide security. It's a very complicated situation and it was a fascinating meeting. (Understand that I spend most of my time chained to my desk, so a 3 hour meeting with a terrorist organization is exciting for me.)"