Wednesday, June 25, 2008
On this day:

U.S. Supreme Court overturns death penalty for child rapists

Justice Kennedy writes, "The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child."

Nice of him to share his personal views with the rest of us; too bad he chose to impose them as the law of the land, too.

As SCOTUSBlog's Kevin Russell notes here,
"In fact, the opinion seems quite clearly to go beyond the simple question of
child rape to decide that at least '[a]s it related to crimes against
individuals, the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the
victim’s life was not taken.'"
Read the opinion of the Court and Justice Alito's dissent here.

One reason I'm fed up with Andrew Sullivan

He puts words in people's mouths.

Here's Sullivan today:
Abe Greenwald puts the neocon case for invading Iraq more candidly than most: it's to "maintain a regional U.S. troop presence" to deter Iran. It would have been great if they'd been a little more candid about that fact in advance, don't you think?
Yeah, and it'd be great if Andrew Sullivan would be a little more accurate in restating the opinions of those with whom he disagrees. Here's Abe Greenwald, from the post Sullivan linked to:
With the likelihood of an Israeli strike on Iran, and with Iran threatening to deal the U.S. “a strong blow in the mouth,” what kind of message are Democrats sending Tehran by insisting on quickly withdrawing U.S. troops from the region?

Having stood idly by while Iran progressed through step after step in their near-complete quest to obtain nuclear weapons, we now will be telling the mullahs that we will be splitting town when our ally finally opposes them. In today’s New York Sun, Eli Lake compiles some of the “nightmare scenarios” that may be unleashed in response to an Israeli strike...

With this range of attacks (including one on Iraq) on the table, does Barack Obama really see a strategic benefit in passing up the opportunity to maintain a regional U.S. troop presence? If the answer is “yes,” it merely means he’s a disastrously poor strategic thinker. Since the answer is “no,” it means something much worse.
Greenwald clearly did not make the case that Sullivan said he made. That is, he did not claim that the case for invading Iraq in 2003 was to make it possible to "maintain a regional U.S. troop presence" in order to deter Iran. What Greenwald did say is that maintaining a regional U.S. troop presence now - post-invasion - would carry a strategic benefit since it would serve to deter Iranian aggression in the future.

There are two independent positions here: 1) That the U.S. was right to have invaded Iraq in order to depose Saddam Hussein, and 2) that the U.S. should enhance its strategic position with respect to Iran by maintaining a regional troop presence now that the invasion is a fait accompli.

It's plausible to believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, but to also believe that now that we're there, it's in our national security interest to keep forces in Iraq at least temporarily in part to contain the Iranian threat. It's equally plausible to believe that the Iraq invasion was justified, but that the costs of maintaining a ground force in a Muslim Arab nation far outweigh the potential benefits, even given the threat posed by Iran.

Based on Greenwald's post, I have no idea whether he believes that the primary case for invading Iraq was to put troops there to deter Iran, and neither does Andrew Sullivan. Unfortunately, this sort of disingenuousness has become his signature talent, and that's too bad.

The Incredible Hulk, the Philokalia, and Anger Management

While I'm kinda on the subject...First Things's Anthony Sacramone critiques The Incredible Hulk from a Christian-inspired philosophical perspective. Good post, Tony, but take my advice: don't write a book about it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
On this day:

Ethanol: A lesson in unintended consequences

The Tuscaloosa News has the latest on how the federal government's obsession with ethanol has made things more costly and inconvenient for consumers:

TUSCALOOSA If you've been yanking on the starter cord of your lawn mower only to hear it sputter, the problem may start with the fuel you are putting into it.

Mechanics at local small- engine repair shops say ethanol is to blame.

Benjamin Mallisham, owner of Mallisham's Lawn Mower Repair on 13th Avenue East, said he's seen a steady increase in the number of engines damaged by the effects of ethanol.

'About one out of every five or six motors that come in here, that's the problem,' said Mallisham, who has been repairing lawn mowers and other small engines since 1974. 'It's getting worse now, but it got real bad about two years ago. ...

The problem is that ethanol — a type of alcohol — is corrosive to plastic parts,especially those found in lawn mowers, chain saws, gas-powered weed trimmers and leaf blowers.

A few small engine problems here and there are pretty insignificant when compared to how the government-mandated use of government-subsidized ethanol has distorted markets for food and energy, adding to the price we pay at the pump and the price we pay to feed ourselves and our families.

Who is hurt most by rising fuel and food prices? Certainly not the rich. So, why is it that Sen. Barack Obama - who says he wants to "keep the American Dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity, who still thirst for equality" - so strongly supports giving favorable treatment to the ethanol industry, as reported by the New York Times today? Why does he also oppose lowering tariffs on imported ethanol made from sugar-cane, which we can buy from our friends, and which according to the Times is cheaper to produce (and therefore cheaper to buy) than corn ethanol? Even more to the point, why does Obama oppose letting American companies drill for American oil in American waters?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to using ethanol for fuel. I don't really care one way or the other as long as my truck starts in the morning . But I am against using government subsidies to give ethanol producers a competitive advantage over those who can produce energy more cheaply and efficiently. With a few conservation-minded and environmentally-friendly exceptions, I think that government should get out of the way so that American companies can develop America's own energy resources - whether it's oil, ethanol, coal, or some form of alternative energy that has yet to be discovered or fully utilized.

And finally, I'm for being able to crank my friggin' lawnmower when my yard needs mowed. I get angry when I can't crank my mower. And you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

The evolution of dance

Why (most) white guys have no business on the dance floor:

Monday, June 23, 2008
On this day:

The Congressional ban on incandescent light bulbs

Speaking from the House floor, Rep. Ted Poe (R.-Texas) asks, "Have we gone too far with this nonsense?"

Ten Concerns about Barack Obama

From William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn.

Blue Angels, Golden Knights coming to Huntsville next weekend

Should be a great show.

Saturday, June 21, 2008
On this day:

The candidates on high fuel prices

The Mobile Press-Register sums up their positions nicely: "McCain: 'Let's Drill'; Obama - 'Let's Tax.'"

Does Barack Obama think a little too much of himself?

Yes, he does.

(See the Drudged link here.)

Friday, June 20, 2008
On this day:

Obama vs. missile defense

Here is Barack Obama in a message he delivered to a left-wing group before the Iowa caucuses: "I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems."

"Unproven" missile defense systems? Hmmm. Interesting. Doesn't look unproven to me:

"KAUI, Hawaii (June 5, 2008) - A modified Standard Missile - 2 (SM-2) Block IV interceptor is launched from the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during today's Missile Defense Agency test against a short range ballistic missile (Scud-like) target. Moments after the launch, there was a successful intercept approximately 12 miles above the Pacific Ocean, on the Pacific Missile Range Facility, about 100 miles west of the island of Kauai, Hawaii. It was the second successful intercept, in two attempts, of a sea-based terminal capability and the fourteenth overall of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Program. Missile Defense Agency video (RELEASED)"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
On this day:

Google now provides street-level views of Huntsville on the net

I don't like this one bit. Yeah, it's cool and all, but there are some major privacy-related concerns raised by a for-profit company taking closeup pictures of private property and then disseminating them publicly without the consent of property owners. One of the chief responsibilities of government is to protect private property. Insofar as Google's use of the internet has the potential to interfere with that duty and to intrude into the private lives of citizens (and it does: see here, for example), then it seems to me that there are adequate grounds for the government to intervene.

Breakfast cake

Eat this in the morning...have a heart attack in the afternoon.

Iron my shirt!

So, your husband's a couch potato? You have to remind him to take out the garbage? Well ladies, it could be worse.

The Midwest vs. New Orleans

John Derbyshire's e-mail correspondent has some pointed questions:
Where are all of the Hollywood celebrities holding telethons asking for help in restoring Iowa and helping the folks affected by the floods?

Where is all the media asking the tough questions about why the federal government hasn't solved the problem? Asking where the FEMA trucks (and trailers) are?

Why isn't the Federal Government relocating Iowa people to free hotels in Chicago?

When will Spike Lee say that the Federal Government blew up the levees that failed in Des Moines?

Where are Sean Penn and the Dixie Chicks?

Where are all the looters stealing high-end tennis shoes and big screen television sets?

When will we hear Governor Chet Culver say that he wants to rebuild a "vanilla" Iowa, because that's the way God wants it?

Where is the hysterical 24/7 media coverage complete with reports of cannibalism?

Where are the people declaring that George Bush hates white, rural people?

How come in 2 weeks, you will never hear about the Iowa flooding ever again?

Scientists engineer "bugs" that eat waste and excrete crude oil

I kid you not. And the story makes no mention of them doing it with a dime of government subsidies.

Obama's Father's Day speech


Afghan President Karzai threatens to pursue Taliban into Pakistan

Karzai: "We will complete the journey and we will get them and we will defeat them. We will avenge all that they have done to Afghanistan for the past so many years."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
On this day:

Al-Qaeda's Vietnam

NRO's Rich Lowry says:
Lately, the Iraq war has looked more and more like another Vietnam — not for us, but for al-Qaeda.

CIA Director Michael Hayden says the terror group has suffered “near-strategic defeat” in Iraq. It has been routed from Anbar, Diyala, and Baghdad provinces, and now is getting a beating in its last stronghold of Mosul, in the north. It is reviled by the Iraqi populace, and its downward trajectory began with indigenous uprisings at its expense.

When the United States lost Vietnam, it lost credibility and saw an emboldened Marxist-Leninist offensive around the third world. Al-Qaeda is a global insurgency and not a nation-state — and thus its circumstances are radically different from ours 40 years ago — but it has suffered a similar reputational loss.

The Iraq war had been a powerful recruiting tool for al-Qaeda when it was winning. No more. Osama bin Laden rendered what is called the “bandwagon effect” in international relations — the tendency of states to go along with the dominant power — in his homespun Arabic analogy of people liking the strong horse over the weak horse. In Iraq, al-Qaeda’s proverbial horse is a broken-down nag.
Today's massacre in a predominately Shiite section of Baghdad shows that the al-Qaeda types have yet to give up in their war against the forces of civilized society, but it's increasingly clear that these sorts of heinous acts only serve to isolate the extremists even further from everyday Iraqis.

The Iraqi government is becoming more confident and more capable in taking on the bad guys, as demonstrated by its recent successes in Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. Just this week, Prime Minister Maliki announced that he was sending Iraqi forces into the southern city of Amara to root out Mahdi Army leader Moqtada al-Sadr's militia there. And as the Washington Post noted in a Sunday editorial, Maliki has also begun to stand up to his neighbors in Iran, "in effect,... saying that his country does not want to become an Iranian satellite but an independent Arab state that would look to the United States to ensure its security."

It's important for Americans to understand how this remarkable turnaround came about. Kimberly Kagan and Robert Kagan had a good summary in the June 10 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Read it. And remember that the underlying event that made these successes possible was a new strategy - the essential part of which was the "surge" - developed and executed by the administration and a new set of generals beginning last year. Sen. John McCain had been encouraging just such a classic counterinsurgency strategy for some time; in fact, he was its principal supporter. Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress, on the other hand, roundly denounced the surge and sought to cast it as a continuation of the "same old failed Bush policy." Well, it wasn't. They were wrong, and McCain was right.

This election has been billed as a "change" election. Well, when the U.S. desperately needed a change in strategy that would allow us to actually win the war in Iraq, John McCain took the lead and helped set our troops on a course to victory. Meanwhile, Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats seemed ready to wave the white flag of surrender, opposing the surge and instead calling for an immediate withdrawal of American forces.

For a politician to call for "change" is fine and dandy, but voters must first know the answer to a simple question before embracing such a candidate: Quo vadis? Where are you going?

We now know that the surge has made possible a real strategic victory over radical Islamists in one of the most important countries in the Middle East. Would a withdrawal of American forces have led to as desirable an outcome? Would it have made America more secure? Would it have resulted in less suffering among Iraqis? If our imminent victory has been bought at a price, what would have been the price of defeat?

Speaking of fair use...

Anyone know the latest on the University of Alabama vs. Daniel Moore?

On the AP blog ban

The AP is annoyed with some bloggers about their having quoted from its stories in a manner that it deems to be unfair. For the record, I plan to continue quoting from any and all news sources, including the AP, whenever they run stories that interest me or that may interest my five other regular readers. That means that I won't be participating in the "Boycott the AP" campaign that seems to be building steam among the Blogging-American community.

I think I understand the "fair use" doctrine pretty well, and I've always done my best to adhere to it. Fair use encompasses pretty much all of what you learned in English 101 about writing research papers and essays and such, only turned up a notch here and there. You don't use direct quotes from anyone without proper attribution. You limit the scope of your quotations to that which is necessary to get your point across. You don't quote entire articles without adding commentary that justifies having quoted the entire article. ("Fisking," for example, is probably acceptable.) You don't even paraphrase without giving credit to the author or copyright owner if what you are paraphrasing is new and unique. So for starters, that means don't plagiarize, and plagiarize even less when you're dealing with copyrighted material.

In addition, keep in mind that when you're using copyrighted material that is either produced for profit or that you intend to use to make a profit, the standard is a little more strict. According to the Copyright Act of 1976:

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --

  • 1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • 2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • 3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • 4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
When in doubt, consult the Golden Rule. Then give a little more courtesy than the Golden Rule requires to the person or organization who either produced or owns the material you're using. Hopefully, that'll be enough to keep you (and me) out of trouble. If anyone has something to add or subtract from any of that, feel free to do so in the comment section. There's really no hard and fast rule to follow here, and that's the problem.

One of the most interesting aspects of the information age is the emerging symbiotic relationship between major news organizations and individual bloggers. Bloggers depend upon paid journalists to provide the news that they comment on daily. Likewise, journalists and their employers are becoming increasingly dependent on bloggers to direct readers to their sites and to their advertisers.

This has added a whole new dimension to the already fuzzy concept of fair use, and one which has not been fully tested in the courts. Cooperative news organizations like the AP have largely been left out in the cold by all of this: hence the AP's new assertiveness over its copyrighted material. I don't know enough about the AP's latest grievances against bloggers to judge one way or the other who's in the right, but if you just respect the property of others and give credit where credit is due, you should be OK.

Monday, June 16, 2008
On this day:'re not it

From the AP:
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A Republican state senator said Friday he plans to introduce a bill to create a faith-proclaiming "I Believe" license plate in Alabama similar to one approved recently by South Carolina lawmakers.

"It would send a message that the government in Alabama believes in faith and family," Sen. Hank Erwin of Montevallo said.
Oh, for goodness a bumper sticker.

Who'd make the best President? Two Alabama Democratic Congressional candidates won't say

It must be tough running for Congress as a Blue Dog Democrat these days. Trying to appeal to the conservative constituents back home while also trying to avoid a smackdown by the party's dominant liberal wing - led by Speaker Pelosi and candidate Obama - makes for plenty of hard decisions. You'd think that figuring out who to endorse for President would be one of the easier ones to make, but that's apparently not the case.

The AP reports that State Senator Parker Griffith and Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, two Democrats who are running for Congress from Alabama's Fifth and Second Congressional districts respectively, have thus far refused to endorse their party's presumptive nominee for President. That's in spite of the fact that should they be elected, the outcome of this year's presidential race will have more impact on the issues these two gentlemen say they care about than almost anything else during their terms in office. It's for that reason that voters in their districts need to know who they think would make the best President and why.

It's hard to believe that two seasoned politicians like Griffith and Bright have yet to make up their minds about whether they will support John McCain or Barack Obama come November. It's not a trick question. If they're elected, they will face much trickier ones. So why is it that when confronted with what is arguably the most important issue of this election - determining who is best suited to run the executive branch of the federal government - these two Blue Dogs have seen fit to tuck tail and run?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
On this day:

Mugabe government seizes food aid destined for poor children

There seems to be no limit to the cruelty of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. By taking over privately-owned farms and handing them out to his friends, he has managed to force millions in the heart of Africa's breadbasket into starvation. He continues to ruthlessly suppress any and all who voice opposition to his regime, including the victors in recently-held elections which served his party with a massive defeat that he still refuses to recognize. And just this week, armed thugs operating under his command stole millions of dollars in American food aid - wheat and pinto beans, no less - destined for his country's hungry children and gave it to his political supporters, who are sure to use it not to fill their own well-fed bellies, but to fill their wallets.

If only we had an American President who would sit down with Mr. Mugabe and talk things over over tea and crumpets, perhaps these sorts of outrages could be averted. You think?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
On this day:

Lawsuit asks federal court to impose higher property taxes in Alabama

Having been unable to convince Alabamians that the state's property taxes are too low, a group of would-be tax-hikers is now asking the federal courts to do what their fellow citizens have consistently and overwhelmingly refused to do.

The plaintiffs contend that Alabama's system of taxing property is racially discriminatory. This is in spite of the fact that the state does not take race into account in any way when it levies property taxes. Or any other taxes, for that matter.

Writing for the Huntsville Times, David Prather says:

Without delving into the legal arguments on either side, consider the situation the students are in. The Legislature continues, year after year, to spend less money than schools really need - particularly in poor areas.

In the face of legislative deafness, what recourse do the students who want a quality education have but to take the matter to court?

In other words, no matter where you stand on whether there should be federal intervention in this case, can you blame the students for seeking the only workable remedy at their disposal?

What recourse do the students who want a quality education have but to take the matter to court? Well, they could take it to the legislature and to their fellow citizens, for starters. After all, those are the people who are rightfully charged with making these sorts of decisions.

Can you blame the students for seeking the only workable remedy at their disposal? Yes, we can. We can blame them for their constitutional ignorance, and we can blame them for having the nerve to file a lawsuit that, if successful, would establish a system of taxation without representation in Alabama. If the District Court does its job and dismisses this lawsuit, then these "students" will have received a lesson in Civics that they should have learned in school: that this is a republic and that decisions about who to tax and how much to tax them are properly made through our elected representatives, not through judicial fiat.

Uncovering Christian history in the Middle East

This is pretty interesting:
Archaeologists in Jordan have unearthed what they claim is the world's first church, dating back almost 2,000 years, The Jordan Times reported on Tuesday.

"We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," the head of Jordan's Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, Abdul Qader al-Husan, said.

He said it was uncovered under Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab in northern Jordan near the Syrian border.

Some words of caution here.

Monday, June 09, 2008
On this day:

Huntsville Times: 10 Questions with Sen. Sessions

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions's discussed nuclear energy, the economy, and the GOP's prospects in Novemeber in a recent interview with the Huntsville Times.

Numb nut?

LOL. I'm sure there are a few good spelling bee lessons here.

Loretta Nall had Ramen noodles for dinner last Wednesday

And she hates Wal-Mart. She really does.

Hugo Chavez: Running scared?

After two Venezuelans were caught red-handed supplying weapons to Colombian FARC rebels, it appears that Hugo Chavez is now changing his tune. More here.

He may also be backing away from his efforts to impose police-state tactics on Venezuelan citizens:

But in a rare act of self-criticism on Saturday, Mr. Chávez acknowledged the ire that his intelligence overhaul had provoked among legal scholars and human rights groups, which said Mr. Chávez was attempting to introduce a police state by forcing judges to cooperate with intelligence services and criminalizing dissent.

“Where we made mistakes we must accept that and not defend the indefensible,” Mr. Chávez said at a campaign rally in Zulia State for gubernatorial and mayoral candidates from his Socialist party. “There is no dictatorship here,” he continued. “No one here is coerced into saying more than they want to say.”

Reeling from the defeat of a constitutional reform in December that would have expanded his powers, Mr. Chávez, in his 10th year in power, is facing multiple challenges as a reinvigorated opposition fields candidates in regional elections this year and Venezuela’s economic growth slows despite record oil prices.

Sunday, June 08, 2008
On this day:

NYT: "Setbacks seen for Southeast Asia Terrorists"

More good news. From today's New York Times:
SINGAPORE — The deadliest terrorist networks in Southeast Asia have suffered significant setbacks in the past three years, weakened by aggressive policing, improved intelligence, enhanced military operations and an erosion of public support, government officials and counterterrorism specialists say.

Three years after the region’s last major strike — the attacks on three restaurants in Bali that killed three suicide bombers and 19 other people — American and Asian intelligence analysts say financial and logistical support from Al Qaeda to other groups in the region has long dried up, and the most lethal are scrambling for survival.

Generation O My Word

Andrew Sullivan is smitten.

Iraqi sheik offers to take the fight against al-Qaeda to Afghanistan

In an interview with the New York Sun, Sheik Ahmad al-Rishawi - the leader of the Anbar Awakening movement in Iraq - said that he would be willing to provide assistance to American troops in Afghanistan if asked. He also had some kind words for President Bush and for America:
"Al Qaeda is an ideology," Sheik Ahmad said. "We can defeat them inside Iraq and we can defeat them in any country." The tribal leader arrived in Washington last week. All of his meetings, including an audience with President Bush, have been closed to the public, in part because the Anbari sheiks, while likely to win future electoral contests, are not themselves part of Iraq's elected government.

Of his meeting with Mr. Bush, Sheik Ahmad said he was impressed. "He is a brave man. He is also a wise man. He is taking care of the country's future, the United States' future. He is also taking care of the Iraqi people, the ordinary people in Iraq. He wants to accomplish success in Iraq."

When Sheik Ahmad's brother, Sheik Sattar, met with Mr. Bush in Anbar last fall, he told the president that he dedicated his victory over Al Qaeda to the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. On September 13, 2007, Sheik Sattar was assassinated by an improvised explosive device. Since then, his brother Sheik Ahmad has led the awakening movement. ...

In his home province in Iraq, Sheik Ahmad's public addresses are preceded by two bugle players and an announcer proclaiming him as the "conqueror of Al Qaeda," and "friend of General Petraeus," among other formal titles. ...

"We have to rebuild a national Iraqi army, not built on sects, but the same way they built up the Anbar police," he said. "They must be well-armed, so they will be able to protect the country and all the American interests in the area. We also have to make a friendship treaty based on mutual respect between the two parties, and then the United States will be able to withdraw from Iraq, if they wish, and we will succeed in Iraq the same way America succeeded in Japan and Germany."

The Anbari sheik offered no comment on the details of the current negotiations on the American troop presence in Iraq between Prime Minister al-Maliki and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, saying he was not involved in the negotiations. But he also said he favored such a status-of-forces agreement. "With a diplomatic understanding we will be able to solve all the problems. We fully trust the Americans. We know the United States never in its history occupied a country. On the contrary, they were occupied and they were able to fight the occupier," he said, referring to the American rebellion against the British in 1776.
Listening to Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, you'd think that America has no friends anymore - in Iraq or anywhere else. It would be nice if Obama were as eager to meet with America's friends in this war against Islamic extremists - people like Sheik al-Rishawi - as he is with our enemies. It would be even nicer if he would at least acknowledge that such friends exist.

Here is Obama's web site:
The Surge: The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq's political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq's civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq's political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.
If a tree falls in a forest, and Barack Obama hears it loud and clear but simply ignores it...

The real gay bashers

Note: they are not Christian conservatives.

"They start it, we finish it"

An "enemy rout" at the hands of British forces in Afghanistan:
"None of the British will leave that compound alive," local intelligence had reported a day earlier.

In reply to the threat, company commander Major Jamie Loden told a meeting of village elders that the Taliban "fight like women" and if they were men "they would dare to fight us".

Two hours later mortar rounds, heavy machine gun bullets and other weapons rained down on the Paras' positions but by the early hours of the morning the Taliban were a beaten force.
This comes on the heels of another reported "rout" of Taliban forces last week - that one by United States Marines.

Friday, June 06, 2008
On this day:

Sunset on Mars


In defense of a small town

In a moving and thought-provoking post today, NRO's Jim Manzi shares his experiences of growing up in a small town. Here's his conclusion, but the best part is what leads up to it:
While there are important aspects of life that tend to be common in America, but systematically different than those in France, Zimbabwe or China, many of the specific elements of deep community – shared experiences, obligations and risks – that command the kind of loyalty that can be required to motivate the defense of a society vary widely among communities within the nation. One of the paradoxes of an extended republic like the United States is that we are called upon to see that the national government serves to provide protection against external political threats, and thereby allows these different communities within in it to prosper despite have differing mores, and that therefore, we share a common political project with people who live in ways of which we do not approve. We must have a healthy kind of dual loyalty: to our individual communities and to the nation that enables them to exist. The alternative of trying to force national uniformity would lead to tyranny, failure or both.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008
On this day:

Yesterday's Alabama primaries

You can view the results here.

There will be a few runoffs on the Republican side:
Jay Love (35%) will face Harri Anne Smith (22%) in the 2nd Congressional District race for U.S. Representative.

In the 5th Congressional District, Wayne Parker (49%) almost managed to avoid a runoff, but not quite. He'll have to beat Cheryl Baswell Guthrie (18%) again before taking on Democrat Parker Griffith in November.

Beth Kellum (34%) will face Lucie McLemore (24%) in the race for Place 1 of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

Finally, Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (47%) and Matt Chancey (29%) will be fighting it out for PSC President.
The Republican runoff primary has been set for July 15.

Chavez decree could force Venezuelans to inform on each other

Just the latest step in Hugo Chavez's goal of transforming Venezuela into a police state.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
On this day:

Harvey Korman, RIP

You may remember him from the Carol Burnett Show. NRO's Peter Robinson says that his "misfit dentist" sketch with Tim Conway is "very possibly—no, almost certainly—the funniest two-and-a-half minutes in the history of television."

Watch it here:

Time for a new Titanic movie

Goodbye Leo DiCaprio. Hello Fred Thompson.

From ABC News:
When oceanographer Bob Ballard uncovered the world's most famous shipwreck in 1985, he grabbed the globe's attention. But in reality the explorer's search for the Titanic was a cover-up for a top-secret mission for the U.S. government.

Ballard reveals he was hired to use his advanced robotic sub to check on the status of two nuclear submarines, the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion, that sank in the Atlantic in the 1960s.

"The Navy didn't want the Soviets to know they were looking for these subs," Ballard said on "Good Morning America" today.

Good news from Afghanistan

The Telegraph reports that Taliban fighters are on the brink of defeat.

French Foreign Minister sees improvement in Iraq

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, a former Socialist, notes that ""The Iraqis themselves, with their army, their administration, are taking charge of their own problems."