TurningWheels

Sunday, December 28, 2003
  Nameless, faceless
 
On December 25:

Suicide Blast Kills Four Outside Tel Aviv

And today:

Israeli Soldiers Kill Three Palestinians

When Palestinian suicide bombers kill innocent Israelis, the perpetrators and victims shall have no "group" identity.

When Israeli soldiers kill armed militants engaged in hostile activity, the "perpetrators" and "victims" are properly identified.

Exhibit A, and Exhibit B, all within three days.

The AP biased? Nah...




Thursday, December 25, 2003
  Holiday spirit
 
Happy Hannukah! (It doesn't end until Friday night!)

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy your families, remember the meaning behind the holidays. Most of all, stay warm and dry, and be nice to your fellow (hu)man.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!




Friday, December 19, 2003
  Let Freedom Ring
 



  and speaking of
 
Some trivial information I stumbled on while "visiting" Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico - Government

Type:
Commonwealth associated with the US. The island's inhabitants possess all the rights and obligations of United States citizens such as paying social security, receiving federal welfare and serving in the armed forces, except for the right to vote in presidential elections and the obligation to pay federal taxes.

Interesting Facts:
The term "United States" when used in a geographical sense on official documents, acts and/or laws; includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

The U.S. has twelve unincorporated territories, also known as possessions, and two commonwealths. The major possessions are American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All of these have a non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress. The major commonwealths are Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas. Commonwealths have their own constitutions and greater autonomy than possessions, and Guam is currently in the process of moving from the status of unincorporated territory to commonwealth. The residents of all of these places are full U.S. citizens, with the exception of those on American Samoa who are U.S. nationals, but not citizens. (U.S. Commonwealths/Territories: American Samao, Baker Island, Howland Island, Guam, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas), and Wake Island).

Puerto Rico has its own Olympic team and competes in the Miss Universe pageant as an independent nation.

Every few years it seems like the question of Puerto Rico statehood comes up. They usually have a choice between becoming State #51, and full independence from the U.S. On one hand, it seems like P.R. should get statehood (if they want it, of course) so they can have some influence on the U.S. leadership that affects them. On the other hand, their status now allows for a more independent identity and culture, and at least a measure of "self rule", which is great. Plus there would continue to be no language issue, not that this country will ever declare English the official language. A State of Puerto Rico makes about as much sense as the State of Hawaii, in my humble opinion, which is basically a toss-up.

The idea of full independence probably doesn't appeal to most people there, as that would end their U.S. citizenship "privileges." So they just stick with the status quo, which actually seems like a pretty good deal from this point of view. I wonder what the general opinion is over there (minus the issue of Vieques), as every Puerto Rican I've met really likes America and is thrilled to have the privileges associated with their status.

It's funny, though, to listen to the supporters of independence talk about oppression and colonialism. They didn't look terribly oppressed when I was there, and they don't have the burden of federal taxes. But I guess the perspective is different when you have a big country in control of so many aspects of your government. As an American, I'm personally happy to have Puerto Rico (and our other territories and commonwealth) as part of our extended family. I hope they feel the same.




  Havana Banana Fofana....
 
Hope you haven't traveled to Cuba lately. Violation of the U.S. travel ban to Cuba could result in a fine of up to $7,500. And Uncle Sam is now nailing Americans who have gone there in violation.

My feelings are mixed on the Cuba ban, but I'm no fan of Castro. He's a big loser, and the every day that passes is one day closer to the day he dies (is that optimism or what?) While it's understandable that we don't want American dollars funding the commie dictator, perhaps it's time to revisit the policy (don't we revisit it every year?!)

Honestly, though, what's the lure of Cuba? The weather? The culture? You can get both of those in countless beautiful Caribbean locales. Puerto Rico has an abundance of history and culture, not to mention super-friendly people and great beaches. PLUS it's an American Commonwealth-- you don't need a passport and our dollars are their dollars. Same goes for the USVI.

So my guess is that the lure of Cuba is its "taboo." I know that every country has it's unique attraction, and I'm sure that Cuba is no different. I'm just sayin'.... if you're hell bent on going, it might be wise to think twice. Regardless of whether the travel ban is right or wrong, it could still cost a good chunk of change.

¡Viva Puerto Rico!




Wednesday, December 17, 2003
  Random thoughts - in no particular order
 
So here we are, at the end of the year. What to say, what to say?

First of all, kudos to our troops for catching the rat-in-a-hole coward last weekend. There isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said. While it was great news, this is hardly over. It's nice to have that hanging cloud removed. (And I still stand by my belief that OBL is fertilizing the spring flowers in Afghanistan's mountains-- the guy is too much of a media whore to be so silent for so long.)


Howard Dean would scare me as CIC. The guy believes that our foreign policy needs to be put up for a vote, where he would seek the "permission" of the UN to take action internationally. Meanwhile, Wesley Clark would give our European buddies "right of first refusal on the security concerns" of the United States. Nothing like a President who would allow other nations to rule us by proxy.


Why would anybody believe that John Hinckley should be allowed unsupervised visits away from his mental hospital? Seems a bit odd, but thankfully the Secret Service will continue to follow him whenever he leaves the facility. But still...


The "morning after" pill may soon be available over-the-counter. Excuse me? How is it that birth control pills are available only through a prescription, yet the "oops" pill will soon be as readily available as vitamins? It seems as though this might be the type of pill that should be administered with a doctor's supervision, given that it may be responsible for the death of a local teenager. It's already available through a doctor-- why the need to change that?


Could France finally be standing up to the rise of Islamism within its borders? Will targeting religious symbols really address the issue, or is the problem much deeper than that? Or perhaps they are becoming a nation that is intolerant of all things religious, a la USSR? Time will tell.


In Israel, it's more of the same. The Geneva circus proved once again that only Israel has Israel's best interests at heart. The "accord" was nothing short of a one-way concession, with no guarantees. In other words, Israeli actions would only ensure more promises. Again, more of the same. I'm starting to feel a little afraid for that country, but ultimately believe that the people will not be defeated.


And, finally, American Idol is coming back next month. We all need to get our entertainment somewhere, eh?




Wednesday, December 10, 2003
  You get what you put in
 
Uh oh! The world police, purveyors of truth and morality, and self-appointed Presidents of the World (yes, I'm talking about the EU-- err, France and Germany) are on to us!

EU to Study Legality of Iraq Contract Row

The holier-than-thou Europeans could stand to get a clue or two. This just proves-- you get what you put in. Deal with it.

(Yet another reason I will choose to never spend my money in France or Germany...)




Monday, December 08, 2003
  The Rhetoric of Peace
 
Who Speaks for Israel?

How can anybody argue with this? This article, by Caroline Glick, is worth the read. Don't be fooled by the Geneva "Accord".

How does Europe defend itself against the growing evidence that the Continent has reverted to its pre-Holocaust levels of anti-Semitism? Aside from denying the truth, it relies on the good offices of sympathetic Israelis. In doing so, Europe is guilty of a kind of subversion.

This is not to say that foreign governments aren't free to make their views of Israeli politics known to Israelis, just as Israeli politicians are welcome to make their views of foreign governments known to foreign audiences. But it's a very different matter when these governments seek to manipulate our politics by funding, publicizing and lending their prestige to the work of Israelis sympathetic to their views.

This is all the more illegitimate given that Yossi Beilin, along with Amnon Lipkin Shahak, Nehama Ronen, Avrum Burg and Amram Mitzna, are all failed politicians. They have all been rejected by the voters, repeatedly. Their constituencies are as imaginary as their "peace treaties." They are as comparatively marginal to the political landscape here as, say, the Free Democrats are in Germany.

It would be interesting to know how German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would react if the Bush administration (as part of its commitment to free-market economics, of course), began funneling millions to front groups connected to that party. One guess is that the Chancellor would be screaming bloody murder.

Yet this is precisely what the Europeans involved in the Geneva initiative are now doing vis-a-vis Israel. Indeed, they are doing worse. Employing the rhetoric of peace, they are working steadily to undermine the legitimacy of Jewish statehood.

On the specious ground that "the whole world has a stake in Mideast peace," they are purchasing a seat at the Israeli cabinet table. Who put them there? Certainly not the Israeli electorate. Instead, they are creating a virtual constituency consisting of the media, foreign leaders, the UN, Left-wing NGOs and a handful of unpopular Israelis to shape the terms of our government debate.

The problem, however, goes deeper than European interference. There is also the problem of our willingness to let them interfere. Ever since we won our statehood 55 years ago, successive Israeli governments have failed to grasp that Israel is truly sovereign. We hear competing voices among the Jewish people, both in Israel and the Diaspora, and often fail to internalize the fact that these voices, however well funded, do not represent the collective will of the Jewish people embodied in the sovereign decisions of the Jewish state. They do not speak for us. As our collective voice, the government has the sole right to set our policies and defend our rights.

And defend us it must. Over the past three years, it has become absolutely clear that any thought we might have had that the establishment of the State of Israel would be the death knell of millennia of anti-Semitism was misplaced. Two thousand years of Christian Judeophobia and 1400 years of Muslim hatred did not dissipate in 1948. We see this in the daily libels against Israel in the European press and at the UN General Assembly. And we see it in the constant incitement to the annihilation of the Jewish people throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds. The fact is inescapable: Anti-Semitism remains one of the most potent forces in the world today.

Whether he knows it or not, Beilin serves anti-Semites in Europe and the Arab world as a fig leaf. It is he who allows them to advance their anti-Israel agenda with immunity. And this is nowhere as important as in the US. It is in Washington, where traditions of anti-Semitism never took firm root, where Beilin and his colleagues seek to advance their aims. And they are succeeding.

...

As the surge of anti-Semitism in what was until recently considered civilized Europe shows, much has not changed since 1948. Now, as then, there are millions of people who believe that their interests are advanced by anti-Semitism. Now, as then, Jews are under attack not because of anything that they have done, but because they exist.

But at the same time, something did fundamentally change 55 years ago. We Jews are no longer powerless. We have our government now to defend us. By setting the record straight on who speaks for the Jews, and by going on the offensive against our enemies, our leadership can protect us and strengthen our fellow Jews under attack in Europe.

[via Naomi Ragen]




Friday, December 05, 2003
  Support James Alford
 
This is just terribly sad. Shame on the Army. This man and his family deserve a loud apology, and he deserves to be buried with full military honors.

[Via Bill O'Reilly]




  Go Dean!
 
The latest Zogby poll has Howard Dean ahead of his nearest opponent by a whopping 30% for the January 27 New Hampshire primary.

You know what that means? When the Dems have a candidate that talks like this:

Iran is a more complex problem because the problem support as clearly verifiable as it is in North Korea. Also, we have less-fewer levers much the key, I believe, to Iran is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran, I believe, most likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union and it may require us to buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran to prevent Iran from them developing nuclear weapons. That is also a country that must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons much the key to all this is foresight. Let’s act now so we don’t have to have a confrontation which may result in force, which would be very disastrous in the case of North Korea and might be disastrous in the case of Iran.

... what could they possibly say about the stupid, bumbling idiot Bush? To review, they won't have the downward spiraling economy, they won't have the "no foreign policy experience" argument, they won't have the "he didn't serve, therefore is unqualified for the CIC job" argument, and they certainly won't be able to ridicule his speaking abilities. So what's left? It's the war, stupid!




  Desperation looks like this...
 
Yesterday it was Al Gore. Today it was Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi. In the next week or so, it might be Bill Clinton.

All of these politicians have put their weight behind the Democratic Mayoral candidate in San Francisco. Polls currently put him behind the Green Party candidate whose name was relatively unknown until just a few months ago, especially to people outside the city. The Democratic candidate, who was considered a shoo-in just a few months ago, is now getting the "big guns" in his corner in a last ditch attempt to sway as many voters as possible. My question is: do they endorse the candidate or just the letter behind his name? My guess is it's the latter. It also shows the real threat that the Green Party is to the Democrats these days-- memories of 2000 have not quite faded yet.

This particular election is going to be an interesting sign for California politics, where the Democratic party has reigned supreme for over five years. Up until last month, Democrats held every major statewide office, plus a majority of the legislature. This election could very well demonstrate the polarization of the Democratic party, and be the second in a possible string of election losses for the party.

"I think there is an enormous amount at stake," said Newsom, who has also secured endorsements from Democratic presidential candidates Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry. "We lost the governor's office and now our last bastion, northern California, is at play."

Umm, Gavin, San Francisco is hardly the "last bastion" for the Democratic party, but a loss there sure would be an embarrassing wake up call, now wouldn't it? Fact is, until the Democratic party comes up with a coherent message, traditional Democrats will seek out alternatives. The Green party is becoming a nuisance, and the Dems don't like it:

"I respect anybody who wants to participate in whatever party ... so I respect the Greens and the enthusiasm that they bring to the political process. However, the fight in this country is between the Democrats and the Republicans," said Pelosi. "In order for the Democrats to prevail we have to be strong. Having the mayor of San Francisco be a Democrat is important to us."

The "fight" is between the Dems and Republicans? Oy vey. She really meant to say, "now all you SF libruls, be good little sheep and vote for the Democrat. Don't be silly, kids!" She also said that the country needs to give Bush the boot, and put Dems back in power in the White House and Congress because the Donkey party is what's best for this country, while Republicans are only legislating for big business (heard this on the radio today-- I'll link when I find the quote.) What is she smoking?? You know what they say about opinions...

Even though I don't live in San Francisco proper, we will have to see/hear the next mayor fairly consistently during his term. I must say, the prospect of having to listen to Gavin Newsom for the next four years is frightening. The guy is too slick, too political, too "Clinton-esque" for my taste. Even on mute, he is just reeks of slick. The voice he puts on, his physical mannerisms, his former model DA wife... blech!

Never thought I'd say this, but Matt Gonzalez really needs to win this one. For the sake of the collective Bay Area sanity, and just to see the reaction of the Democratic hoo-hahs. I feel the winds of change around these parts, and the 2004 election is looking more and more promising every day.




Tuesday, December 02, 2003
  December already??
 
Where does the time go??? It's been over a week since I last posted, but it doesn't seem like it. Holidays will do that.

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for, really. Too much to get into one day, actually. Thanks to those of you who sent Thanksgiving wishes-- right back at ya!

A lot is going on in the world, but I've just been too uninspired to blog about politics, etc. (EXCEPT: props to the Prez for his visit to Iraq on Thanksgiving. That was just awesome. 'nuff said.)

Back to the grind. At least we get a few days off from work over the next month, and the new year means we're more than half way to summer! It's only December 2, and I'm already counting down to spring training... ugh.