California's Electoral Votes

I've written about the electoral college system here, and how it is often very misunderstood.

Proposals to award a state's electoral votes to the national election winner pop up now and then, and are incredibly stupid. They defeat the whole purpose of the electoral college formula to represent BOTH the populace AND the States in the Federal elections, just as Congress has two houses to represent each proportionately. And, if passed, they'd make campaigning in that state irrelevant, as its votes could be had by winning elsewhere!

But idiots who don't think about things imagine Gore would have been President if not for the Electoral "loophole", because Bush didn't win the popular vote, and that somehow the system failed. But Bush won the State vote by carrying more states! And the formula put him over the top.

If one wishes to reform the system, I would support measures that make the populace-representing part more granular, that is, awarding 1 electoral vote per Congressional district won, plus 2 to the overall state winner, instead of all the votes to the state winner. That would make many states now taken for granted by one party or another (and hence ignored by both) much more important, as parts of them would be up for grabs.

Maine and Nebraska already do this.

And now California will consider the measure!

Which is HUGE!!!
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A prominent Republican lawyer wants to put a proposal on the California ballot next year that could shake up the 2008 presidential contest, a change Democrats say would rig the election.

California awards its cache of 55 electoral votes to the statewide winner in presidential elections—the largest single prize in the nation. But under the proposal, the statewide winner would get only two electoral votes.

The rest would be distributed to the winning candidate in each of the state's congressional districts. In effect, that would create 53 races, each with one electoral vote up for grabs.

The left-leaning state has voted Democratic in the last four presidential elections. But the change—if it qualifies for one of two primary ballots next year and is approved by voters—would mean that a Republican would be positioned the following November to snatch 20 or more electoral votes in GOP-leaning districts.

That's a number equal to winning Ohio.
...
Democratic consultant Chris Lehane called the plan "an effort to rig the system in order to fix the election."

"If this change is made, it will virtually guarantee that a Republican wins the White House in 2008," Lehane said in an e-mail.

Nineteen of the state's 53 congressional districts are represented by Republicans. President Bush carried 22 districts in 2004, while losing the statewide vote by double digits.

Only Maine and Nebraska allocate electoral votes by congressional district.

A draft of the proposed initiative says nixing the winner-take-all system would give presidential candidates "an incentive to campaign in California. ... Many of the geographic areas of the state would be as important to a candidate's chance for victory as many of the smaller states."

If it does qualify, Democrats probably would have to spend millions of dollars to defeat it, which could drain money from other races. And there are expected to be additional ballot proposals on abortion and other social issues that could drive up GOP turnout.
Power to the People, baby!

Submarine Info On The Internet -- Good And Bad

Dealing with information about submarines in a public forum is always a mixed bag -- there are lots of things we know that we can't talk about, and because people can pretty much say whatever they want on the 'net, it's sometimes hard for people without the necessary background to figure out what's right and what's B.S.

On the "good" side, there's lots of great information out there on submarines that the discriminating reader can find -- some of it in unlikely places. A reader sent in this photo of a U.S. Los Angeles-class submarine (probably USS Minneapolis-St. Paul on her final journey) transiting the Panama Canal earlier this month that they got from the Canal's live webcams:

On the other hand, sometimes information of a more questionable nature makes it onto the web. Consider the recent report that a U.S. submarine had sunk a North Korean freighter carrying nuclear supplies and enriched uranium to Iran two weeks ago. From the article:
In reports first published by DEBKAfile, American naval and air forces intercepted two North Korean vessels clandestinely en route for Iran with cargoes of enriched uranium and nuclear equipment in the past month. The shutdown of Pongyong's nuclear facilities has made these items surplus to North Korea's requirements and the Islamic Republic was more than willing to pay a hefty price for the goods.
On July 12, the second intercepted North Korean freighter was sunk in the Arabian Sea by torpedoes fired from a US submarine 100 miles southeast of the Iranian naval base-port of Chah Bahar. Delivery of its freight of enriched weapons-grade uranium and equipment and engines for manufacturing more fissile material including plutonium in its hold could have jump-forwarded Iran's nuclear bomb and warhead project, lopping off at least a year of work. For this Iran's rulers were ready to reportedly pay out a cool $500 million.
A few hours earlier, President Bush received an intelligence briefing on the vessel, its freight and destination. Apparently the shipment was brought forward by several weeks to evade detection by UN nuclear inspectors scheduled to visit Pyongyang this week to verify the dismantling of its nuclear facilities.
US airplanes had been tracking the freighter and picked up signs of radioactivity, indicating the presence of nuclear materials aboard.
President Bush had the option of ordering US Marines to board the vessel or to sink it. He decided on the latter - both because the North Korean freighter was approaching an area patrolled by Iranian naval units and seizure of the vessel by American marines might have provoked a clash; secondly, it was the better choice in order to avoid exposing US troops to radioactive contamination. American naval and air units in the Persian Gulf, Middle East and seas opposite North Korea were ordered to go on a high state of readiness and the torpedo the North Korean vessel was accomplished without delay.
After the attack, US warships raced to the spot where the ship went down where they picked up three lifeboats. Most of the North Korean sailors aboard were either injured or dead. Twenty in all died in the attack. They all bore symptoms of contamination. After the episode, the area was cordoned off and underwater equipment dropped to salvage the cargo from the sunken ship.
All the parties to the incident, the United States, North Korea and Iran, have kept the incident under wraps as the situation in and around the Gulf is inflammable enough to explode into a full-blown Iranian-US clash at the slightest provocation.
It's fairly obvious why this claim hasn't gotten more play in the regular media -- it just doesn't make sense. Besides that fact that it's fairly unlikely that North Korea has enough weapons-grade uranium to start exporting, the "information" in the article that U.S. aircraft were able to "pick up signs of radioactivity" from uranium -- an alpha emitter -- is enough to set off the B.S. detector for those who know about such things.

Bottom line: Submariners can help raise the level of public discourse by providing facts about whatever submarine-related tidbits of information make it into the public domain -- bound of course by the restriction that we can't use any classified information. The submarine bloggers listed at the right perform such a public service. With regards to the specific claim discussed above, while I could see a submarine being used for such a mission, this particular report doesn't really ring true, so I have to throw the flag at it.

Book Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

It's been a week since the seventh Harry Potter book came out, so I figure most people who are really interested (other than ninme, who's waiting for the Brit version with her "favourite" ways of spelling words) have finished the book by now. All five people here in my house finished it by yesterday, but for those who haven't finished yet, you shouldn't click on the "Read more" link below if you don't want to see spoilers.

Warning! Spoilers Below!

For those who aren't planning on reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but still want to be able to join in the water cooler discussions, there's a good synopsis at this Wikipedia article.
The Potter books have been a touchstone for my family for the last 8 years; my children grew up with them (we discovered them right after the 3rd book came out) and it gave the whole family something to talk about. For that reason, and because the books are entertaining even for adults, I've been following them quite closely, and got quite attached to the mythical world that J. K. Rowling created. In this last book, Rowling wrapped up the series in an eminently satisfying way that makes the hours spent reading the books all worthwhile.

As I've said all along, it was clear that Snape was "good" throughout it all -- Dumbledore just couldn't have been wrong about something so important. While I had stated that Neville had to be the one to get rid of Bellatrix LaStrange, Rowling ended up giving Neville the equally important role of destroying the last Horcrux -- and having Mrs. Weasley do the deed was just as satisfying. The best part about the conclusion is that Harry finally beats Voldemort not by luck, but because he actually comes to understand something that the Dark Lord doesn't, and uses it to his advantage. For those who "grew up" with Harry, it's fitting to see him finally take some responsibility for his fate at the end.

My youngest didn't like the epilogue at all, and I can see where he's coming from -- it ties things up way too neatly (even given the understanding that it is a children's book). The worst part is the names of Harry's kids -- didn't Ginny get any say in what their names were going to be? (I'm hoping that name of the oldest kid at least honored Uncle Fred in his middle name.) For those who want more information about what happened to the characters after Voldemort died, Rowling gave out some information in a recent interview, including the fact that both Harry and Ron became Aurors.

So what happens next for fans of Harry Potter? Well, there are still two more movies to see, and Rowling is talking about putting out an encyclopedia of Potter information. I could also see her writing a "Hogwarts Year 8" book (with proceeds going to charity) -- giving the main characters a chance to actually go through their last year of school.

Overall, this last book is clearly the best book of the entire series -- I'm glad I stuck with the story all the way to the end.

Why They Fight

Though a five-year-old essay, den Beste lays out with crystal clarity who the enemy is and why they fight.

And udnerstanding that is critical to understand how to proceed.

Den Beste's analysis puts to rest all arguments against the Iraq war, and suggests why it must be widened and withdrawal is not an optin.

Excerpts can't do it justice. Please read the whole thing. Once you start, you won't be able to stop.

But a taste:
I can't explain the reasons for attacking Iraq in a vacuum because Iraq is part of a bigger picture, and the attack there will be one battle in a much longer war. Trying to understand one particular battle without the context of the larger war is an exercise in futility. (By analogy: what excuse is there in 1942 for the US to attack Vichy France in Morocco? Vichy France wasn't our enemy; Germany and Italy were. Taken out of the context of the larger war, the Torch landings in Africa make little sense. It's only when you look at the bigger picture of the whole war that you can understand them.) [I've often used the same analogy. Our citizens should know more history, especially military history! -- ed.]

We must attack Iraq. We must totally conquer the nation. Saddam must be removed from power, and killed if possible, and the Baath party must be shattered.

But Saddam isn't our enemy. bin Laden (may he burn in hell) is not our enemy. Iraq isn't our enemy. al Qaeda isn't our enemy. The Taliban weren't our enemies.
...
Our enemy is a culture which is deeply diseased.
...
I'm afraid I'm going to have to use the partly-fallacious term "Arab culture", accepting that not all Arab culture is our enemy and not all Arabs are among our enemies.
...
The problem with our enemy's culture is that in the 20th century it was revealed as being an abject failure. By any rational calculation, it could not compete, and not simply because the deck was stacked against it. The problem was more fundamental; the culture itself contained the elements of its own failure.

The only Arab nations which have prospered have done so entirely because of the accident of mineral wealth. Using money from export of oil, they imported a high tech infrastructure. They drive western cars. They use western cell phones. They built western high-rise steel frame buildings. They created superhighways and in every way implemented the trappings of western prosperity.

Or rather, they paid westerners to create all those things for them. They didn't build or create any of it themselves. It's all parasitic.
...
The diseased culture of our enemy suffers from all seven of the deep flaws Ralph Peters identifies as condemning nations to failure in the modern world. Peters makes a convincing case that there is a correlation approaching unity between the extent to which a nation or culture suffers from these flaws and its inability to succeed in the 21st century.

He lists them as follows:

Restrictions on the free flow of information.
-- The subjugation of women.
-- Inability to accept responsibility for individual or collective failure.
-- The extended family or clan as the basic unit of social organization.
-- Domination by a restrictive religion.
-- A low valuation of education.
-- Low prestige assigned to work.

And carrying all seven of these, our enemy is trying to compete in the 21st century footrace with both feet cast into buckets of concrete. They are profoundly handicapped by the very values that they hold most dear and that they believe make them what they are.

The nations and the peoples within the zone of our enemy's culture are complete failures. Their economies are disasters. They make no contribution to the advance of science or engineering. They make no contribution to art or culture. They have no important diplomatic power. They are not respected. Most of their people are impoverished and miserable and filled with resentment, and those who are not impoverished are living a lie.

They hate us. They hate us because our culture is everything theirs is not.
...
God says they will be successful; it's right there in the Qur'an. God lays on them the duty to dominate the world, but they can't even dominate their own lands any longer. They face a profound crisis of faith, and it can only resolve one of three ways.

First, the status quo can continue. They can continue to fail, sit in their nations, and accept their plight. By clinging to their culture and their religion they may be ideologically pure, but they will have to continue to live with the shame of being totally unable to compete. Solution one: they can stagnate.

The second thing they can do is to accept that their culture and their religion are actually the problem. They can recognize that they will have to liberalize their culture in order to begin to achieve. They can embrace the modern world, and embrace western ways at least in part. They can break the hold of Islamic teachings; discard Sharia; liberate their women; start to teach science and engineering in their schools instead of the study of the Qur'an; and secularize their societies. Solution two: they can reform.

Some Arab nations have begun to do this, and to the extent that they have they have also started to succeed. But this is unacceptable to the majority; it is literally sinful. It is heresy. What good does it do to succeed in the world if, by so doing, you condemn your soul to hell?

Which leaves only one other way: become relatively competitive by destroying all other cultures which are more capable. You level the playing field by tearing down all the mountains rather than filling in the valleys; you make yourself the tallest by shooting everyone taller than you are. Solution three: they can lash out, fight back.

It's vitally important to understand that this is the reason they're fighting back. It's not to gain revenge for some specific action in the past on our part. It isn't an attempt to influence our foreign policy. Their goal is our destruction, because they can't keep hold on what they have and still think of themselves as being successful as long as we exist and continue to outperform them.
...
Both al Qaeda's terrorist attacks, and Saddam's attempts to incorporate other Arab nations into Iraq, spring from the same deep cause. But when I say that al Qaeda and Saddam are not the real enemy, it's because they both arise due to a deeper cause which is the true enemy.
...
This war will continue until the traditional crippled Arab culture is shattered. It won't end until they embrace reform or have it forced on them. Until a year ago, we were willing to be patient and let them embrace it slowly. Now we have no choice: we have to force them to reform because we cannot be safe until they do.
...
We're facing a 14th century culture engaged in a 14th century war against us. The problem is that they are armed with 20th century weapons, which may eventually include nuclear weapons. And they embrace a culture which honors dying in a good cause, which means that deterrence can't be relied on if they get nuclear weapons.
...
Saddam has to go not merely because of his programs for development of WMDs. He also has to go because he manifests Arab nationalism and imperialism. Even if he actually consents to disarm, he and the Baathist party must be destroyed.
...
After the consolidation phase of this war is complete, with the destruction of the Taliban and occupation and reform of Iraq, then we will go onto the offensive and begin to strike at the deeper core of the problem. Part of that will be to force reform on Saudi Arabia, through a combination of diplomacy, persuasion, subversion, propaganda and possibly even military force.

What this shows is just how deeply I disagree with many who oppose this war. I am forthrightly proposing what some might call cultural genocide, for example, which instantly puts me on the Pomo/Tranzi [postmodernist/transnationalist -- ed.] blacklist. The existing Arab culture which is the source of this war is a total loss. It must be shattered, annihilated, leaving behind no more traces in the Arab lands than the Samurai left in Japan or the mounted knights left in Europe.

I am forthrightly stating that it will be necessary to destabilize the entire middle east, which puts me exactly counter to European foreign policy. No bandaid will do. It isn't possible to patch things up with diplomacy because the rot runs too deep. Diplomacy now would be treating the symptoms and not the true disease.

I am forthrightly stating that no amount of aid to the poor will stop the aggression against us, which will anger liberals everywhere. It isn't our wealth they hate, it's our accomplishments. The only way we can appease them is to ourselves become failures, and that is a price I'm not willing to pay.

And I claim that the US bears essentially no blame for the fundamental source of their anger towards us. They don't hate us because of our foreign policy. They don't ultimately hate us because of past mistakes. They don't hate what we do or what we have done. They hate what we are, and what we show them that they are not. They hate our accomplishments and our capabilities because we force them to see their own lack of accomplishments and their incompetence and impotence.
...
In the mean time, now that al Qaeda has broken the ice, there will be further terrorist attacks against us as long as this war continues. They may be made by al Qaeda itself, or they may be made by other groups who will spring up. We can't totally prevent that until we've removed the true cause of those attacks: Arab cultural failure. Nothing short of that will stop the attacks. They're part of the setbacks which always accompany any major war. We'll do our best to foil such attacks, but inevitably some will succeed.

And those who don't understand the true issues will inevitably point to such attacks as proof that our campaign is a failure, that by our aggressiveness we raised further terrorist groups against us, that we should abandon the war and try appeasement, concession, aid, humanistic solutions. [And their doing this now -- ed.]

And they'll be wrong, because they don't understand the real reason why we're being attacked and therefore why such approaches won't truly remove the source of the grievance.
...
This war will end when they change, but not before.
But to fight a culture war, we have to have pride and confidence in our own, which is something "pomo/tranzis" have been working hard to destroy for a long time.

The "first step" in this Long March is to develop a personal pride in "Anglosphere" ideals.
Anglospherism is assuredly not the racialist Anglo-Saxonism dating from the era around 1900, nor the sentimental attachment of the Anglo-American Special Relationship of the decades before and after World War II.... Anglo-Saxonism relied on underlying assumptions of an Anglo-Saxon race, and sought to unite racial "cousins." ... Anglospherism is based on the intellectual understanding of the roots of both successful market economies and constitutional democracies in strong civil society.

Planning To Kill You

Airports warned about terror dry runs

WASHINGTON - Airport security officers around the nation have been alerted by federal officials to look out for terrorists practicing to carry explosive components onto aircraft, based on four curious seizures at airports since last September.

The seizures at airports in San Diego, Milwaukee, Houston and Baltimore included "wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cell phone components and dense clay-like substances," including block cheese, the bulletin said. "The unusual nature and increase in number of these improvised items raise concern."
...
The bulletin said the a joint FBI-Homeland Security Department assessment found that terrorists have conducted probes, dry runs and dress rehearsals in advance of previous attacks.
...
The bulletin said the passengers carrying the suspicious items seized since September included men and women and that initial investigation had not linked them with criminal or terrorist organizations. But it added that most of their explanations for carrying the items were suspicious and some were still under investigation.

The four seizures were described this way:

San Diego, July 7. A U.S. person — either a citizen or a foreigner legally here — checked baggage containing two ice packs covered in duct tape. The ice packs had clay inside them rather than the normal blue gel.

Milwaukee, June 4. A U.S. person's carryon baggage contained wire coil wrapped around a possible initiator, an electrical switch, batteries, three tubes and two blocks of cheese. The bulletin said block cheese has a consistency similar to some explosives.

Houston, Nov. 8, 2006. A U.S. person's checked baggage contained a plastic bag with a 9-volt battery, wires, a block of brown clay-like minerals and pipes.

Baltimore, Sept. 16, 2006. A couple's checked baggage contained a plastic bag with a block of processed cheese taped to another plastic bag holding a cellular phone charger.
So think what that means.

These are just the ones we know about.

Somewhere, somebody is tabulating all the different ways they're trying to get bombs on planes, to find out which ones aren't found.

Somewhere, somebody is directing these people in trying different methods of concealment.

Carefully and patiently working out how to destroy our way of life and kill thousands of innocent people.

We can bet these people are probably muslims. Who else?

And when 20 airliners all blow up in the sky at the same time one day, perhaps anytime now, some will still be worried about the inconveniences of "flying while muslim" rather than saving your life.

That's the whole point of the flying imams who want to sue anyone who raises suspicion -- it's to make these attacks easier. That makes those imams saboteurs by the way and they should be executed.

Instead, they get a news conference.

And what are Democrats thinking in killing the John Doe amendment? They'd rather you die than offend a muslim.

So when it happens, will we still worry more about offending muslims?

Or since we can't stop further bombings and don't know who among them is doing it, will we detain and/or deport every last one of them?

Answer that again after it's your child who gets murdered.

Or indeed, when it's yours you just hope gets to grow up with the freedom to fly safely.

Our Government Or Theirs?

Several shocking items lately indicating that "our government" doesn't see itself as representing, you know, us.

It acts more openly as a representative of some weird world-wide constituency.

I never believed the "one world" conspiracy theorists until seeing so many Senators in so many different cases openly side with the interests of foreigners against American citizens.

Item: Democrats are trying to get the border fence subjected to approval from the Mexican government:
The number two Democrat in the Senate is urging the House of Representatives not to repudiate a provision in the immigration reform bill that would force the U.S. to consult with Mexico before building a border fence.

"To think that we would build a fence without any conversation or consultation with Mexico - that doesn't make sense," Sen. Dick Durbin told "Fox News Sunday."

Asked why he felt such consultations were necessary, the top Democrat explained: "Good fences make good neighbors, too. And remember that when it's all over there will be cities across the border from one another in the United States and Mexico. And you'll find in most instances they'll try to find a level of cooperation.

"We ultimately want to have the cooperation of the Mexican government," Durbin insisted.

An amendment slipped into the Senate bill at the last minute by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) mandates consultations with Mexican officials before any fence construction begins.

It reads:

"CONSULTATION REQUIREMENT -- Consultations between United States and Mexican authorities at the federal, state, and local levels concerning the construction of additional fencing and related border security structures along the United States-Mexico border shall be undertaken prior to commencing any new construction, in order to solicit the views of affected communities, lessen tensions and foster greater understanding and stronger cooperation on this and other important issues of mutual concern."
Item: the dead immigration "reform" bill nearly was made in the interests of foreigners, only stopped by a depressingly small margin.

Item: the "John Doe" amendment to protect citizens for being sued for reporting suspicious activity was killed by Democrats in favor of terrorists.

But blogger-generated outrage might just be working. See here and KEEP ON THE PRESSURE! Make these clowns do their stinking job!!! They're all in knots over "profiling" and "bigots" that they can't see hurt feelings aren't as bad as being dead.

And now, Sen. Specter says any military action against Iran to stop its atmoic bomb program which threatens countless numbers of American citizens simply cannot take place, because the cost in civilian casualties -- IRANIAN CIVILIAN CASUALTIES -- would be "too high"!!!
Dear Sen. Specter: I'm writing today because I didn't get a chance to respond to your parting comment as you left the train last week in Philadelphia. If you recall, we were both riding the Acela out of Washington; I was the columnist sitting across the aisle from you (both literally and in a Washington way, often, figuratively). I introduced myself and offered you that day's column for your reading pleasure.
...
Nodding at intervals, you asked questions, mainly about my personal tolerance for civilian casualties -- theirs, not ours. You asked me something like: At what number do civilian deaths -- theirs -- become intolerable? How many people -- not ours -- have to die before I (me) say it's too much? So now I ask: Was that Diyala, or Pennsylvania you represent? Uppermost in your mind were Iraqi (or, for that matter, Iranian) casualties, a likely consequence of the aggressive actions under discussion -- since this was, in fact, war we were talking about. Another likely consequence of such actions -- warfare, right? -- is the achievement of American war goals, which strikes me as preferable to just bleeding our nation to death. But maybe I've been reading too much history. Somehow, American war goals have become a secondary consideration when America wages war.
...
That's who we are -- socially humane, expendable and increasingly impotent. It's not who our fathers and grandfathers were. The men who decimated German and Japanese cities as part of the effort to win World War II as quickly as possible would have been perplexed by descendants who now send American troops house to booby-trapped house and expect to achieve anything but more war, "limited" though it may be.

Talk about waste.
You rose to go. I asked whether anything I said had made sense. Your conclusion: "I don't think we're prepared to take the kind of [IRANIAN] civilian casualties that you describe."

And you were gone.
Because he apparently represents Iranian citizens now and must protect them just the same as the citizens of Pennsylvania.

How about that?

Your children must die so that Iranians may live, according to this traitorous (but feeling "virtuous") "U.S." Senator.

Specter, by the way, though now a nominal Republican (In Name Only), used to be a Philly Democrat, which explains a lot.

They all need to be removed.

NOW!

This is disloyalty to America.

This is treason!

Who do they think they work for?

Tell them how you feel about your government worrying about foreigners' lives more than those of your children.

Put in leaders who ARE prepared to "take" those kinds of casualties!

Or surrender.

Obama's Foreign Policy

Obama debate comments set off firestorm

Barack Obama's offer to meet without precondition with leaders of renegade nations such as Cuba, North Korea and Iran touched off a war of words, with rival Hillary Rodham Clinton calling him naive and Obama linking her to President Bush's diplomacy.
...
"I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive," Clinton was quoted in an interview with the Quad-City Times that was posted on the Iowa newspaper's Web site on Tuesday.

In response, Obama told the newspaper that her stand puts her in line with the Bush administration.
Ah.

Now there's a retort to being accused of being in bed with terrorist states!

So being in line with the Bush administration is worse, apparently, than being in line with, say, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran!

Wait, it gets better!
In Monday's debate from Charleston, S.C., Obama was asked by a questioner via YouTube if he would be willing to meet — without precondition — in the first year of his presidency with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

"I would," he responded.

Clinton said she would not. "I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes," she said. Clinton said she would first use envoys to test the waters.
...
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, circulated a memo by Obama spokesman Bill Burton saying Obama's response to the question had played well with focus groups and that Clinton had changed her position on the subject — a claim her campaign denied.
There you have it!

It's official!

Focus Groups will now be setting the foreign policy of the Obama administration!

Seawolf-Class Boats Gathering In Puget Sound

USS Seawolf (SSN 21) arrived in her new homeport of Bremerton this weekend, joining USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) in the Puget Sound. The other ship of the class, USS Connecticut (SSN 22), is heading to Bremerton herself at the end of her upcoming deployment.

In addition to making it easier for the three Seawolf-class boats to share training resources and spare parts, this move pretty much makes Naval Base Kitsap the most powerful Navy base in the world; it's homeported ships could pretty much destroy the world and sink any ships or submarines they want to -- no other base can say that. (Specifically, no other base has a ship or submarine that could win a fight against a Seawolf-class sub.) Plus, they also have an aircraft carrier.

Democrats Protect Terrorists

Democrats led the charge in Congress to kill the "John Doe Protection Amendment" that would help shield citizens from the threat of frivolous lawsuits if they report suspicious activity.

The roll call and more updates.

Every single "nay" vote was a Democrat (plus one lefty independent).

This is totally unacceptable.

Whose side are they on?

As you will recall, a group of imams made deliberately provocative acts on an airline in order to provoke complaints about them, after which they could have a press conference to whine about profiling, to promote the "end racial profiling act."

And they went further, with the Saudi-backed terror front group CAIR (now officially named as unindicted co-conspirators with known terror groups by federal prosecutors) then actually attempting to sue the passengers who reported their behavior.

The purpose is to make it easier for real terrorists to carry out their acts without interference from you, the intended victim.

Sit down and shut up is their message, or you will be sued and branded a racist.

And the Democrats in Congress agree.

I have written my Senators as below.

What is wrong with these people?

Dear Senator Dodd,

I must say I am shocked appalled that you voted against the "John Doe" amendment to protect airline passengers from frivolous and chilling lawsuits if they report suspicious behavior.

Even the thought of having to defend one's self against CAIR (now officially named as "unindicted co-conspirators" of known terror groups) could cause a hesitation that separates life from death.

If Congress wishes to retreat from the hot war, at least it should help fight against terror on the law-enforcement front!

I am stunned.

Whose side are you on? This vote, whatever your reasoning, makes it look like you represent the Saudis rather than U.S. citizens, who are the targets of terror.

What is wrong with Congress? Why are you people making it harder for citizens to protect themselves from mass murder?

You must fix this.

Sincerely,
I tried really, really hard to be polite.

Keep up the fight. Tell your government how you feel about this. Be sure to check the roll call above to see how they voted.

Don't these people fly?

Harry Potter Hype In Idaho

The countdown to the release of the 7th Harry Potter book continues. Here in the Boise area, it looks like there are still lots of people who want to get the book at midnight, despite the alleged "spoilers" that can apparently be found on the 'net. (I've been very diligent about avoiding any potential spoilers, personally.)

We're getting our copies of the book at the local Barnes & Nobles tonight at midnight; they're one of several stores that are staying open late. SubBasket and our youngest went there this morning to get the numbered bracelets that they're handing out to those who pre-ordered the books to establish the selling order for tonight. They reported that 15 minutes before they started handing out the bracelets at noon, the line streched all the way around the building; they estimated about 400 people. The actually selling part should be quite intense tonight.

I posted some of my predictions about the book last week; while I realize that putting out "predictions" now -- with copies of the book apparently available on-line -- seems kind of silly, but I'm going to put one more out there. This isn't really a "prediction" as much as a "this is the way I think it would be cool to go" kind of thing. I've mentioned in the past that I think that "Dumbledore = Gandalf" but I'm starting to think that a better analogy would be "Harry = Frodo". (It's already fairly clear that Voldemort = Sauron, so I don't think I'm going out on much of a limb here.) Just as Frodo saved the Shire, but not for himself, I think it would be appropriate to have Harry lose his magical powers in vanquishing Voldemort. That way the last line could be: "I set out to save the wizarding world, and it has been saved, but not for me. Now all I'll have to remember this part of my life is this scar. Sh*t!"

Update 0053 21 July: We got our copies of the book:

Expect light blogging until I get it finished. (We only got three copies for the five of us, and I seem to be about 5th in line to get one, so it might be a few days.)

Extreme Home Building In Idaho

The big news here in southwestern Idaho over the last week has been that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition showed up in Middleton (just NW of Boise) to build a new home for a deserving family. Today was the "Move That Bus!" portion of the filming, where the family got to see their new home for the first time. It was a long hot day for those who got to see the unveiling of the house, but for those who had to work and arrived late, it wasn't as exciting.

My daughter and I went out to Middleton after she got off work (I had the day off, since I'm on a new work schedule). When we got there about 2:15pm, there were over 1,000 people waiting to get on the buses that took you out to the home site -- the whole road was blocked off, so that was the only way to get there. We waited for about 30 minutes until they announced that they wouldn't be taking anyone else out. Here's a picture of part of the disappointed crowd:

While we didn't get to see the actual ceremony, it was still nice to see the town come together for the needy family in their midst. After the fire at their high school earlier this year, Middleton deserved to have something good happen to one of their own. We can't wait until October to see the episode when it finally airs.

USS Florida Tomahawk Launch Video

Check out this YouTube video that looks like it was put together by the SubRon 16 Weapons shop; it has periscope and underwater camera footage of the TLAM launch USS Florida (SSGN 728) did in May. It's especially good for those who weren't really sure how the seven missile Multiple All-Up-Round canister works for the SSGN conversions:



The video's almost eight minutes long; a reader sent me a two minute version that I'm thinking of posting on YouTube for the more time-crunched viewer. If I do, I'll post the link.

The Counterjihad

I say, ditch the term Global War on Terror (and all its other permutations) in favor of the straightforward term, Counterjihad.

This frames the debate in many favorable ways.

Start using it now!

Belmont Club, as always, has fascinating commentary on the importance of "narratives" in the information war against the current wave of barbarians.
Like the standardized formats of the Western infotainment; the soap opera, sitcom and cop-show, the Jihadis offer an equivalent menu of time-tested genres based on Islamic culture. There are scriptural texts, inspirational stories, martyr biographies and even -- for the literary minded -- poetry. The media varies. There are books, audiovisuals, videotaped attacks, etc. And unlike the Western media which sees it as a duty to criticize their societies and their governments, Jihadi media is frankly partisan. Only Western civilization has no advocate in the raging debate; bereft of even so much as a public defender.
...
And against this 21st century narrative engine the West has offered pitifully little resistance, unless one counts such desultory activities as "public diplomacy" and the odd press conference at which the "newsmen" ask questions related to their agenda and not about the subject of the briefing. In the information warfare battlefield the US is preposterously outgunned.
And clearly the West is fumbling this aspect badly, with its own organs of narration mostly still locked onto hostile left-wing themes that find our enemy curiously seductive.
As can be seen from the scale of the threat and the depth of their penetration even into that most elite of professions, medicine, the radicalization of Muslims intellectuals, especially in the West, continues apace. That implies that people like Galloway, however egregious and disgusting, will have a measure of protection from a very real political constituency even if he did not already have it from the Left.

Many of the British responses to the problem have been in the character of a European state. Control orders. Restrictions on travel. Speech codes. But it's not clear that these measures are winning the battle of the narrative, which as Colonel Killcullen said, is the fuel of a distributed insurgency. Galloway and the radical Islamists have a simple story with one victim, the ummah; one villain, the Shylock Jew; and one stooge; the Anglosophere which continues to do the Jew's bidding; and one duty which is Jihad.

It is the this repetitive dinning of the narrative, this return ever and again to the same storyline despite any facts it may encounter, which accounts for its persistence. Thus Galloway can say with a straight face, time after time, "I deserve a medal". Why? Because I fought for Palestinians beneath the Jewish boot-heel. I opposed the War for Oil. The fact that neither of these events actually exists is beside the point. It exists from continuous assertion. It is willed into fact. I was amused, but not surprised to learn that in a certain Islamic school in Sydney, fully 80% of the students believed that the tsunami which devastated parts of Indonesia was caused by an American nuclear bomb test. In other parts of the world, it is thought that the Jews caused 9/11. That the WTC was destroyed by controlled demolition and that a missile hit the Pentagon. The narrative goes on despite any inconvenient facts. It repeats its points until they are indisputable. And not all the control orders, electronic shackles, preventive detentions and speech codes can substitute for a counternarrative. The West has gone mute from embarrassment, leaving even the chronicling of its injuries to its enemies.
One struggle has been to even agree on what to call this conflict.

Without the right name, it doesn't even exist -- except as Bushco's evil fantasies.

I propose Counterjihad as the new term of choice.

First, why are the current terms unsatisfactory?

War on Terror? Doesn't name the enemy specifically enough. Too broad. Being against a tactic, has too much in common with dreary never-ending government programs like the War on Poverty or the War on Drugs.

War against islamofascists? Names the enemy, purportedly, but awkward. Fascist is also an easy term to discredit through its overuse. And by being too specific, allows too many to escape its label through denial of being fascistic.

War against islam? Won't win over the middle because it sounds unjustly bigoted against a particular religion, however true it might be.

Crusade? Yes, but few will understand how accurate that term is and dismiss it. Already assumed to be a "bad word" by our own Establishment.

But Counterjihad has several points in its favor.

It may seem to still name a tactic (jihad), but that's a particularly islamic tactic by definition, unlike the generic term "terror", and it's harder to dodge the label with "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"-type sophistry.

Thus, it identifies the enemy particularly as jihadists.

And therefore it also doesn't demonize all muslims -- only those waging the jihad.

Furthermore, it frames the issue as a response (counter) to an external unprovoked attack (jihad), instead of being some aggressive imperialistic war for oil or whatnot.

And if jihad is claimed to be broader than holy war (i.e. the "inner struggle"), all the better, for then the concept of Counterjihad applies also against the softer forms of jihad, such as imposition of Sharia law and dhimmitude and the subjugation of women.

It is vital to enlist the snobby lefties who control elite opinion in this struggle, and they will resist any term that smacks of being directly pro Western religion or anti Third-world religion. Framing this however as being against "Jihad" which targets women and gays, for example, just might satisfy their pristine and enlightened moral-midget sensibilities.

It also broadens the scope from those who want to narrow the conflict down to law enforcement against al-Qaeda (i.e., the "forget Iraq and hunt bin Laden" crowd), to a global war with many theaters and many enemies (Iran, Hezbollah, etc.)

Organizations such as CAIR, for example, immediately then become valid targets of the Counterjihad.

And it gives therefore ALL OF US a role in the Counterjihad, whether or not fighting the "hot" war directly. The Counterjihad has intellectual, moral, and spiritual dimensions as well as purely physical.

Enlisting more citizens of the West, if only mentally, into this battle is critical for developing a competing narrative that stands in our defense.

Encouraging more to think of themselves as Counterjihadists might be useful in that regard, for those uncomfortable with being Crusaders with its religiously-charged and historically-smeared connotations.

Deus Vult!

It's That Time Again!

If it's summer, it must be time for the 2nd Annual Summertime Beach Submarine Photoshop Contest over at The Sub Report. According to the contest rules, entries must be received by midnight EST on Thursday, 19 July; also, international submarines are allowed this year. Last year, I submitted a photo based on USS Asheville's unit crest; this year, I think I might take advantage of the option to use a foreign submarine -- maybe something like this:

Everyone should enter -- it's a cubic buttload of fun!

USS Wahoo (SS 238) Wreath-Laying

RADM Doug McAneny, Commander of Submarine Group SEVEN in Yokosuka, recently honored the fighting crew of USS Wahoo (SS 238) by laying a wreath on her resting spot in the La Perouse Straits from the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40). Here's a picture from Navy NewsStand of the ceremony:

It's a good picture, but check out the caption they currently have attached to the picture:
Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny, Commander Submarine Squadron 7, helps lay a wreath into the ocean in remembrance of the Sailors aboard USS Wahoo (DD 238) from aboard submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40). The submarine sunk in October 1943 and was found in June 2006 by a Russian diving team.
[Emphasis mine] I know that it's too simplistic to expect every Mass Communication Specialist (or whatever they're calling Navy Journalists nowadays) to understand the subtleties of submarining, or even the difference between a submarine squadron and group, but I think we could at least expect them to know the difference between a DD and an SS. (They also need to fix it in this other picture of the event.) Hopefully they'll get the captions fixed soon, since some people over at Rontini's BBS have written in to complain.

Movie Review: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

We went to the midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie last night; it looks like it's going to be pretty popular. There were 5 (!) sold-out midnight showings at my local suburban theater, and something like 17 showings over in Boise last night. The audience for my particular showing seemed to attract all the screeching teenage girls in the Valley, but I only missed a few lines of dialogue, so it wasn't that bad. (SubBasket, on the other hand, had a hard time dealing with the concept of the giggling girls flirting with her sons.)

Without putting out too many spoilers, I can say I really liked the movie. After the horrible disappointment that was the last HP movie, this one moved back towards the style of the superior third installment. Since they took an 800+ page book and crammed it into a 2 1/4 hour movie, they obviously had to cut a lot of good stuff out; some of the more frustrating cuts were getting rid of any Quidditch and the "Ron and Hermione become prefects" plotlines. Still, I thought that they included most of the vital parts of the book -- the use of newspaper headlines to advance the story worked pretty well.

I was especially interested to see how they were going to handle the "battle royale" at the end; I figured they'd have a hard time showing on film the internal struggle Harry had to go through to defeat Voldemort's attempted "possession" of him. They ended up doing a pretty good job, and even someone who hadn't read the book will probably be able to understand what's going on. I especially liked how they handled the magical duels between the adult wizards and witches -- there wasn't any "stand back, I'm going to do magic" feeling, they just went at it full bore (like you'd expect them to do in "real life").

They handled the funnier parts well, and the actress who played Luna Lovegood stole every scene she was in. One kind of disconcerting sequence came in the scene where the three principles were discussing Harry's first kiss -- it looked like the actress playing Hermione dropped out of character and started cracking up, but they decided to keep it in the film for some reason. It almost had the feeling of a mid-film blooper reel.

Overall, it was well worth staying up late for. While I still haven't decided whether or not it's better than Prisoner of Azkaban, it's definitely one of the top two HP films. I give it four screeching teenage female film-goers out of five.

Clubbies and Freaks

Interesting analysis (and comments) at Shrinkwrapped concerning Boomer-generation politicians:
To use a 1950s archaic term, the Freaks considered the Clubbies to be "squares" and the Clubbies considered the Freaks to be losers and dope fiends. In reality, the Clubbies, while affecting a more Preppy look were, in reality, no more mature than the Freaks.

Tom Barnett, in a post discussing a David Brooks essay in the Times regarding the Libby pardon, makes some excellent points:

The best parts are when he compares the stunning hypocrisy of Left and Right across the Monica and Libby cases.

Bottom line: Boomers simply suck as politicians. Born of Watergate and Vietnam, they replay these shows over and over again to no useful leadership outcomes. I want them off-stage so bad it hurts.


Tom Barnett is a bit too sanguine about Hillary Clinton for my taste but I think his arguments for Rudy Giuliani resonate with my sense of the Mayor. However, his point that Boomers make terrible politicians strikes home.

Boomers make terrible politicians due to a combination of factors, exemplified by our last two Presidents, one a Freak and one a Clubbie, both of questionable maturity for extended portions of their adult life.

Being a good politician requires having a core set of idealistic values and the requisite cynicism to tolerate bending one's idealism to mesh with reality as closely as possible. Both Clinton and Bush came to adulthood with no obvious set of core ideals. Clinton's Presidency was marked by no issues momentous enough to elicit or test his core. As if in continuation of the Freaks quest for hedonic pleasures, Clinton governed as if his primary concern was being adored by his subjects, whether foreign dignitaries or White House interns.

Until 9/11, Bush gave every indication of running the country as an extended Frat party, with inane nicknames and back slapping japes.

Of note, neither man had ever really been tested in any meaningful way. Rather than maturing into adulthood, they were able to sustain an extended adolescent where events rarely had serious consequences; in truth, neither man (indeed a fair portion of my cohort) never matured because we never had to mature. Life for a post-war baby boomer was always easy. It is true that we grew up with the specter of nuclear annihilation looming over our heads, but that was no incentive to grow up; it was more of an incentive to party and not worry overly much about the morrow, which might not arrive in any event.
Happily, I am a member of Gen X.

Dodged A Bullet

I've always tried to be very careful about not mentioning my current employer on this blog -- it's not because I don't like them (I really like working there), but because I just don't want my hobby potentially jeopardizing my job situation. Still, I know that quite a few of my readers know where I work, and in case anyone was worried for me because of the story that's been dominating Boise news for the last week or so, I can report that I was never happier saying, "Honey, I'm leaving for work" than I was this morning.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Movie Review: Transformers

Finally -- a summer movie that almost lives up to the hype. I've enjoyed fighting robots ever since I watched Battlebots with my sons back when I was Eng on the Jimmy Carter, so I had high hopes for Transformers. Unlike with the other "big" summer movies so far, I wasn't disappointed (unlike this reviewer, who thought its theme of "victory through sacrifice" was too militaristic).

First, my complaints about the movie -- there were some continuity issues (the hot girlfriend's nail polish didn't match from minute to minute), and there were way too many 4-star Admirals (in SDBs, no less) standing watch in the NMCC. While the robot fighting scenes were pretty cool, they didn't do any Matrix-style slow motion that would have been appreciated by the techie portion of the audience. They also don't explain the apparent technology the robots use to make themselves (and especially their cube-shaped power generator) impossibly smaller when they're transformed compared to when they're in robot form. Mass is clearly not being conserved here.

On the good side, the military guys on the ground came across as the kick-ass defenders of freedom that we all know and love. (This helps explain why the regular Hollywood-type reviewers don't seem to like the movie very much.) There were a surprising number of really funny scenes -- in fact, those scenes were what made the movie. It's a film that movie-goers of all ages (up to probably 50) will like -- as long as they like explosions. Overall, I give it four conservation-of-mass-law-violating-robots out of five.

Be Stupid, Get Punished

It used to be an old joke around the boat that Leavenworth had softball teams for CMS Custodians, Rec Fund Officers, and Supply Officers. It looks like the Chop team will be getting a new member from the San Diego surface fleet:
A Navy officer has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for stealing up to $140,000 from the safe aboard his San Diego-based ship to pay debts racked up through an Internet scam.
Lt. Milton Guy pleaded guilty to charges of wrongful appropriation, making a false official statement and dereliction of duty, during a court-martial June 26 in San Diego...
...Guy, 29, was the disbursing officer aboard the frigate McClusky. He oversaw the ship's petty cash, much of it earned through sales of items in the ship's store...
So why would the disbursing officer need $140K? The article goes on to explain:
The court records show that Guy received an e-mail in August 2004 from a man named Barnabus, who claimed to be a representative of the Nigerian government. Barnabus said Mark Guy, a supposed relative of the lieutenant's, had died in a car accident in Nigeria.
In a series of e-mails and phone calls, Barnabus explained that Milton Guy had been left one-tenth of Mark Guy's estate, or $2.6 million. To claim the cash, he would need to pay a string of fees to set up a foreign bank account and cover the cash transfer.
Between October 2004 and July 2005, Guy took $120,000 to $140,000 out of the McClusky's safe in amounts of $3,000 to $10,000 each time, according to the court documents.
He sent most of the money to Barnabus but also used about $4,000 for a laptop computer, a down payment on a car and a deposit on an apartment, the court records show.
In May 2006, auditors from the Navy's Pacific Fleet command discovered that money was missing from the safe. Guy rushed to a bank and cashed a government treasury check to cover the loss, but the scheme quickly unraveled. He later admitted to falsifying the McClusky's ledgers to cover up his theft.
Seriously, how stupid do you have to be to fall for a Nigerian E-mail scam nowadays? I mean, I knew skimmer Staff Corps officers generally weren't that bright, but this is going above and beyond. Still, I shouldn't be too hard on the guy; like another famous Milton, I'm sure he's had problems with people picking on him his whole career:

New Chinese Boomer Seen On Google Earth

I'll probably come back to this later, but there's been a lot in the news this week about the new Chinese Jin-class SSBN being found on Google Maps. Here's the Google Maps URL in question, and here's the original FAS blog post. Here's a screenshot of the satellite view I just made:

The FAS blog post has a pretty good analysis comparing the new sub to the old Chinese Xia-class boomer.

Submariners And Marching -- An Unholy Combination

Remember when your boat would have to get ready for some military ceremony where the crew was expected to do things like "right face", "dress right -- dress!", and "parade rest"? Remember how it was totally obvious that anything having to do with marching is the first thing submariners forget once they get out of boot camp?

The crew of USS Providence (SSN 719) endured the horror of being expected to march down a city street -- with people actually watching! -- this 4th of July. They attended the country's oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in Bristol, R.I.:

Despite the traditional problems submariners have with marching, it looks to me like they're doing pretty good (in this picture, at least) with things like staying in a straight line and whatnot. BZ, men of the Providence!

Bell-ringer 2334 07 July: Lubber's Line was at the parade, and has much, much more at his place.

The Missing Passage

In reference to the posting below, here is an interesting link to a study of Jefferson's "original Rough Draught" of the Declaration of Independence.

This shows the passage on slavery deleted by Congress read as follows, in the list of transgressions by King George:
he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
The other deleted section following a long complaint concerning the British people for not being sympathetic (which was retained in large part) was the ending,
we might have been a free & a great people together; but a communication of grandeur & of freedom it seems is below their dignity. be it so, since they will have it: the road to glory & happiness is open to us too; we will climb it in a separate state, and acquiesce in the necessity which pronounces our everlasting Adieu!
As they say, "read the whole thing"...

Fourth Of July



Happy Birthday, USA!

Last weekend I had the good fortune to visit the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan:
A complex of buildings in the heart of New York City, The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. As early as 1890 Morgan had begun to assemble a collection of illuminated, literary, and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints.

Mr. Morgan's library, as it was known in his lifetime, was built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street.
I was able to see this inspiring piece in his collection on display: an original from the first set of printings of the Declaration of Independence:
With Memorial Day and Independence Day approaching, The Morgan Library & Museum has placed on view its copy of The Declaration of Independence. One of the most timeless and eloquent of historical documents, it stands, with the Magna Carta, as a classic charter of freedom.

The Morgan's copy is one of just twenty-five recorded copies of the first printing of the Declaration and is considered one of the two or three finest in existence.

The Declaration of Independence, the formal statement by the representatives of the Thirteen Colonies announcing their separation from Great Britain and the birth of the United States of America, is a document whose historical importance can hardly be exaggerated.

The text was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. On that day, it was resolved that an accurate copy should be printed and distributed to "the several Assemblies, Conventions & Committees or Councils of Safety and to the several Commanding Officers of the Continental troops." A few weeks later, fifty-six delegates to the Continental Congress signed a slightly but significantly different version of this text, which was engrossed on parchment and is now on display at The National Archives.

The Morgan's copy of the Declaration came into the hands of Benjamin Chew (1722–1810), who, until the Revolution, was chief justice of Pennsylvania. It was preserved as part of the Chew family archives in Cliveden, their country house in Germantown. The Morgan purchased it at auction in New York in 1982.
Hold that thought about a "different version"...

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted for formal independence, by resolving that
these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
On July 3rd, therefore, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, predicting:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.
Though presciently getting most of that prediction right, including the part about "one end of the continent to the other", Adams was off by two days on the date, because what we celebrate actually is the formal adoption on July 4, 1776 of a longer and more detailed resolution known as the Declaration of Independence (the final signing of which didn't start until August 2!) instead of memorializing the initial resolution from two days before:
Thomas Jefferson had already been working on writing this document:
Historian Stanley L. Klos writes that Jefferson spent 17 days preparing the first draft. It relied heavily on Virginia's Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, on calls for independence from other colonies, and on Jefferson's own work on the Virginia Constitution.

Jefferson first showed his draft to Adams and Franklin because, he said, "they were the two members of whose judgments and amendments I wished most to have the benefit before presenting it to the committee." [which also included Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston]

The edited declaration was presented to the Continental Congress on June 28 -- and there it sat while debate continued, not over the words of the declaration but over the essential question of whether the Colonies should sever ties with England.

That was finally decided on July 2 -- the date Adams expected to be "the most memorable Epocha in the history of America."
...
The editing was finished, and the Declaration signed by 56 delegates, on July 4, 1776.
What was the difference between the printed copy I saw at the Morgan and the final signed Declaration of Independence? I didn't read it closely enough at the Morgan to be sure of what they are referring to, but to gain the support of South Carolina and Georgia, an anti-slavery passage was deleted:
Two passages in Jefferson's draft were rejected by the Congress -- an intemperate reference to the English people and a scathing denunciation of the slave trade.
Which inevitably brings us to the Civil War.

And the unofficial National Hymn, the Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe, which has an interesting history (and for "the rest of the story", I attended an elementary school named in her honor). First, the tune started as a Methodist revival hymn, "probably written by William Steffe in 1855-56", called Say, Brothers will you meet us, On Canaan's happy shore. Later, a single verse of new words was put to the tune as a Union marching song, called John Brown's Body, about which there is another historical twist:
There is also revisionist evidence that this song was originally created by a group of Union soldiers (with only the first verse), mocking a comrade-in-arms who shared the name "John Brown".

As musicologist Irwin Silber states, " 'John Brown's Body' was not composed originally about the fiery Abolitionist at all. The namesake for the song, it turns out, was Sergeant John Brown, a Scotsman, a member of the Second Battalion, Boston Light Infantry Volunteer Militia."

Columnist Mark Steyn elaborates: "This group enlisted with the Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment and formed a glee club at Fort Warren in Boston. Brown was second tenor, and the subject of a lot of good-natured joshing, including a song about him mould’ring in his grave, which at that time had just one verse, plus chorus. They called it 'The John Brown Song'. On July 18th 1861, at a regimental march past the Old State House in Boston, the boys sang the song and the crowd assumed, reasonably enough, that it was inspired by the life of John Brown the Kansas abolitionist, not John Brown the Scots tenor. [...] Later on, various other verses were written about the famous John Brown and the original John Brown found his comrades’ musical tribute to him gradually annexed by the other guy."
Others suggest the soldiers must have been well aware of the double entendre between the two John Browns, which was part of their joke.

Meanwhile, there was a search for a suitable National Hymn:
When the Civil War broke out there was no great national hymn, generally accepted as such. This need of a new national hymn to meet the new and existing conditions, one that would be the great peace song, yet the war song of the nation was deeply felt at the very beginning of the war. At the request of many prominent Union men, a committee, composed of scholars and statesmen was appointed to select such a hymn for the use of the homes in the north and the army in the field.

The committee waited three months for such a song. Twelve hundred competitors presented their compositions for the prize of $250 for the music and $250 for the words; but not one of them was accepted. The committee found that there was no soul-feeling, no fire of patriotism, running through the songs. Of all the twelve hundred songs composed in 1861 in competition for the prize of $500-not one is alive today!
Enter Julia Ward Howe, wife of abolitionist Samuel Howe who was, ironically, a member of the Secret Six that apparently bankrolled John Brown's insurrection!



Mrs. Howe would find inspiration to write her new words completely independently from the previous contest for a National Hymn:
As a result of their voluntary work with the Sanitary Commission, in 1862 Samuel and Julia Howe were invited to Washington by President Lincoln. The Howes visited a Union Army camp in Virginia across the Potomac. There, they heard the men singing the song which had been sung by both North and South, one in admiration of John Brown, one in celebration of his death: "John Brown's body lies a'mouldering in his grave."

A clergyman in the party, James Freeman Clarke, who knew of Julia's published poems, urged her to write a new song for the war effort to replace "John Brown's Body." She described the events later:

"I replied that I had often wished to do so…. In spite of the excitement of the day I went to bed and slept as usual, but awoke the next morning in the gray of the early dawn, and to my astonishment found that the wished-for lines were arranging themselves in my brain. I lay quite still until the last verse had completed itself in my thoughts, then hastily arose, saying to myself, I shall lose this if I don't write it down immediately. I searched for an old sheet of paper and an old stub of a pen which I had had the night before, and began to scrawl the lines almost without looking, as I learned to do by often scratching down verses in the darkened room when my little children were sleeping. Having completed this, I lay down again and fell asleep, but not before feeling that something of importance had happened to me."
A facsimilie of that scrawled first draft on the "old sheet of paper" is found here.

Popularity grew, even though she only got $5 for the words:
Shortly after penning the new words Howe's lyrics were published in a 1862 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. After its publication the Battle Hymn Of The Republic grew in popularity and spread throughout both the north and the south due mostly to the efforts of a Union chaplain named Charles Cardwell McCabe. In the south, the Battle Hymn evolved into a heroic hymn becoming synonymous with the northern war effort to free the slaves often being sung by imprisoned Union soldiers.

Other Interesting Facts About The Battle Hymn Of The Republic:
For her services as lyricist, Julia Ward Howe was rewarded with the sum of only five dollars. A far cry from the $500 contest prize offered several years earlier.
An important observation about the interplay of words and music:
The marked differences between these three lyrics show how vital is the relation between words and music. The colourless, seven-syllabled, thrice-repeated line, “Say brothers, will you meet us,” is plaintive, if not dreary, in effect. The eleven syllables of “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,” with their stronger vocal quality and their sinister suggestiveness, have a primitive folk-quality and a martial vigour. The iambic heptameters of “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord” rise to the elevation of a religious processional.
Indeed, the almost obscure religious imagery of the Battle Hymn is one of its most striking features:
The hymn was also a favorite of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, and remains a staple of American patriotic and religious music.

In 1862, Howe journeyed to Washington, D.C., in company of her abolitionist husband, Samuel Gridley Howe. Although slow to embrace abolitionism, Howe was caught up in the drama of John Brown's martyrdom for his failed attack on Harpers Ferry. Her powerful Biblical imagery linking the Old Testament prophesy of vengeance and redemption ("I have trodden the wine press alone … and trampled them in my wrath … For the day of vengeance was in my heart, / and my year of redemption has come." [Isaiah 63:1–6]) with God's mercy and Christ's sacrifice framed the Civil War as a Christian crusade. The music to "John Brown's Body" and "Battle Hymn" is based on an old Methodist hymn.
The full text of all six verses (only the first five were originally published) is here.

For some interesting line-by-line analysis of the biblical imagery with references, see both here and here.

For example, what are Grapes of Wrath? See Revelations, Joel, and Isaiah:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored - Once again, Julia Howe sees the Biblical picture where Messiah is trampling the grapes of wrath prior to most terrible judgments in Revelation.

In 14:18-20, we see that when God tramples the grapes of sin, blood flows from the massed armies gathered for the Battle of Armageddon for 180 miles long!

In Revelation 19:13-19, we see that Jesus Christ is trampling the grapes of sin, with a garment dipped in the blood of Calvary.

In Joel 3:12-14, we see another incredible picture of God trampling out the grapes of sin, in vats that are FULL.

Isaiah 34:6-10 and 63:1-4 also deliver this picture fully.
On this page you can download an mp3 of an oddly haunting contrapuntal "modern folk" version (right-click on this mp3 link and "save target as" to download to your computer for playback).

Here the (in)famous "Dancing Christmas Light Guy" has set his Christmas lights to dance to the Battle Hymn.


Whitney Houston performs for the troops in 1991, presumably after Desert Storm:



The Mormons doing what they do best:



Don't miss Christian Heavy Metal band Stryper's version -- their name and costumes derived apparently from Isaiah 53:5, "with his stripes (wounds) we are healed":



And here you can sing-along to the bouncing ball!



Time for some solemn acts, devotion to God, pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations!

Happy Birthday, America!

Killing Women

Eight suspects are now reportedly in custody in relation to the triple carbomb attacks in Britain.

Details are sketchy, but at least five have been identified as "doctors" or residents. The reporting is fluid and can change, but so far one is identified is from Iraq, another is apparently a Jordan-trained Saudi, one is Indian, another is described as "Palestinian", and the latest suspect, arrested in Australia, is also a doctor.

There may be some double-counting however so we'll have to see.

In any event, there are certainly at least three if not more doctors in this (growing) group of eight.

And they had set out to specifically massacre women with exploding propane tanks, flaming gasoline, and boxes of nails for shrapnel; Hitchens explains:

Don't Mince Words
The London car-bomb plot was designed to kill women.


Why on earth do people keep saying, "There but for the grace of God …"? If matters had been very slightly different over the past weekend, the streets of London and the airport check-in area in Glasgow, Scotland, would have been strewn with charred body parts. And this would have been, according to the would-be perpetrators, because of the grace of God. Whatever our own private theology or theodicy, we might at least agree to take this vile belief seriously.

Instead, almost every other conceivable explanation was canvassed.
...
Only at the tail end of the coverage was it admitted that a car bomb might have been parked outside a club in Piccadilly because it was "ladies night" and that this explosion might have been designed to lure people into to the street, the better to be burned and shredded by the succeeding explosion from the second car-borne cargo of gasoline and nails. Since we have known since 2004 that a near-identical attack on a club called the Ministry of Sound was proposed in just these terms, on the grounds that dead "slags" or "sluts" would be regretted by nobody, a certain amount of trouble might have been saved by assuming the obvious. The murderers did not just want body parts in general but female body parts in particular.

I suppose that some people might want to shy away from this conclusion for whatever reason, but they cannot have been among the viewers of British Channel 4's recent Undercover Mosque, or among those who watched Sunday's report from Christiane Amanpour on CNN's Special Investigations Unit. On these shows, the British Muslim fanatics came right out with their program. Straight into the camera, leading figures like Anjem Choudary spoke of their love for Osama Bin Laden and their explicit rejection of any definition of Islam as a religion of peace. On tape or in person, mullahs in prominent British mosques called for the killing of Indians and Jews.

Liberal reluctance to confront this sheer horror is the result, I think, of a deep reticence about some furtive concept of "race." It is subconsciously assumed that a critique of political Islam is an attack on people with brown skins.
Time to grow up and get over it.
The most noticeable thing about all theocracies is their sexual repression and their directly related determination to exert absolute control over women. In Britain, in the 21st century, there are now honor killings, forced marriages, clerically mandated wife-beatings, incest in all but name, and the adoption of apparel for females that one cannot be sure is chosen by them but which is claimed as an issue of (of all things) free expression. This would be bad enough on its own and if it were confined to the Muslim "community" alone. But, of course, such a toxin cannot be confined, and the votaries of theocracy now claim the God-given right to slaughter females at random for nothing more than their perceived immodesty. The least we can do, confronted by such radical evil, is to look it in the eye (something it strives to avoid) and call it by its right name.
This Evil is now in our cities and our own backyards.

And it simply will not stop attacking us until we literally burn to the ground the islamic ideology that generates it, and all who support it.

The alternative is to agree to sacrifice a few dozens or hundreds of our women now and then, to avoid offending "the noble aggrieved brown man."

Whoever's for that can do us all a favor and just die right now.

Propaganda 101

Well fancy that, with alternate media it's not so easy to fool all the people all the time.

So the BBC tries harder!

'Scepticism' over climate claims

The public believes the effects of global warming on the climate are not as bad as politicians and scientists claim, a poll has suggested.

The Ipsos Mori poll of 2,032 adults - interviewed between 14 and 20 June - found 56% believed scientists were still questioning climate change.

There was a feeling the problem was exaggerated to make money, it found.
Ding ding ding!
The Royal Society said most climate scientists believed humans were having an "unprecedented" effect on climate.
Even supposing that is true, is scientific Truth based on 51% majorities of opinion of "climate scientists" -- and who defines that group?

Who polls them?

I'm a scientist, did the Royal Society ask me MY belief?

Nope, still waiting for the call...
The survey suggested that terrorism, graffiti, crime and dog mess were all of more concern than climate change.
Oh, that's gotta hurt!
Ipsos Mori's head of environmental research, Phil Downing, said the research showed there was "still a lot to do" in encouraging "low-carbon lifestyles".
You first!

This is nothing but a bunch of busy-bodies wanting to fill their empty lives by controlling yours and mine.

They end with this plaintive plea, because their lies just aren't catching on and the Truth is coming out more and more every day:
People had been influenced by counter arguments, he said.

Royal Society vice-president Sir David Read said: "People should not be misled by those that exploit the complexity of the issue, seeking to distort the science and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of climate change.

"The science very clearly points towards the need for us all - nations, businesses and individuals - to do as much as possible, as soon as possible to avoid the worst consequences of a changing climate."
Thanks for playing.

Next!