Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New York Times Spins the News (So what's new?)

It took a few hours to come up with a spin which would diminish the apparent significance of the news about the capture of the most senior Iraqi member of "Al Qaeda in Iraq," but the New York Times came through at last.

Posted at 5:28 p.m. (EDT) on the New York Times web site was an article that focused on the disclosure that the supposed leader of one group of our enemies was a fiction made up by our enemies to disguise the foreign control of the "resistance" or "insurgents" or whatever you would like to call the murderous moslems who are the enemies of us and the Iraqi people.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, told reporters that the elusive Mr. Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audiotaped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima. General Bergner said the information came from an Iraqi insurgent captured this month.

Not until the ninth paragraph did the NYT mention the status of "an Iraqi insurgent" who supplied this information.

The evidence for the American assertions, General Bergner said at a news briefing, was provided by an Iraqi insurgent, Khalid Abdul Fatah Daud Mahmud al-Mashadani, who was reported captured by American forces in Mosul on July 4.

And, although not attributed to anyone -- and therefore apparently the opinion of the writer or an editor -- was this cute bit as the eighth paragraph:

The struggle between the American military and Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is political as well as military. And one purpose of the briefing today seemed to be to rattle the 90 percent of the group’s adherents who are believed to be Iraqi by suggesting that they doing (sic) the bidding of foreigners. An important element of the American strategy is to drive a wedge between Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, other Iraqi insurgent groups and the general Sunni population.

Aren't they the smartest guys around? Just in case their stupid followers don't realize it, the NYT tosses in its speculation that this may just be a ploy by the U.S. to fool the Iraqis.

I'm surprised Karl Rove isn't mentioned somewhere in the article.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tennessee Reservist Jailed For AWOL

Update, July 23: Apparently, the lawyers and the judge didn't do the basic research needed to determine the maximum lawful punishment in this case. I had presumed that multiple counts had produced the sentence, but it turns out that ignorance did it:

Brown was initially sentenced to 11 months and 29 days and fined $1,000 by General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon. The judge said he discovered the next morning that the charge is only a Class C misdemeanor carrying 30 days and a $50 fine rather than a Class A misdemeanor.

Meanwhile, Brown's attorneys, Hillary Stewart and Hallie McFadden, took the case to Judge Stern, who ruled it was an illegal sentence and released Brown from jail after he had served one day.

The original sentencing judge accepts the blame that is due him:

Judge Moon said, "Brown's attorneys never spoke to me, and I had no idea the attorneys had taken the case to another judge in another court so very quickly. The judgment was corrected and announced in open court the very next morning. Nevertheless, the buck stops with the judge in sentencing, and, although the prosecutors misinformed me of the classification of the offense, I take full responsiblity."

Now, what say the lawyers who didn't figure out what took me only about 15 minutes on the Web to learn before my original remarks about this case?

"D'oh" seems appropriate, if an abject apology sticks in their craws.

As for the decision by defense counsel to take the matter to another judge, the fact that the second judge reduced the sentence to one day in confinement rather than the 30 days authorized by Tennessee law indicates that judge shopping probably occurred. Judge Moon had made his opinion of the seriousness of the offense known. Judge Stern apparently felt it was not at all serious. (Does Stern usually act in other than stern ways during sentencing? I wonder what Stern's opinion of the war against terrorism is.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In Chattanooga, there is a type of case I don't recall having seen before. An Army Reserve member (presumably also a member of the Tennessee National Guard) has been tried, convicted and sentenced by a civilian court for absence without leave ("AWOL").

Apparently, there were quite a few offenses on trial, since Tennessee code section 58-1-613 defines absence without leave as a class C misdemeanor, and section 40-35-111 sets the maximum punishment for such an offense as 30 days in confinement and/or a $50 fine.

Note the sentence imposed on young Mr. Brandon Brown in General Sessions Court:

AWOL Reservist Gets Maximum Jail Time
posted July 17, 2007
A 19-year-old who repeatedly did not report to Army Reserve duty has been given a maximum workhouse sentence of 11 months and 29 days.

Brandon Brown, 19, of 775 Flat Top Mountain, Dunlap, appeared before General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon on Tuesday morning.

The defendant’s sergeant testified that he had made personal visits to the soldier on four occasions attempting to convince him to return to duty.

Judge Moon obviously considered the offenses to be somewhat serious under the circumstances:

Judge Moon said, “I had much rather have seen you come before me as an honorable soldier instead of a dishonorable inmate. Our military, and especially our reserve officers, are spread thin in the defense of our country and coping with the environmental disasters within our country. Therefore, there is no place for a coward or a deserter anywhere in the ranks of our military.

For now, it seems like a mirror image of the long ago practice of requiring enlistment to avoid confinement for civilian offenses, but it may revert to something like the older model later (assuming Brown isn't administratively discharged in the meantime):

"You are receiving a maximum jail sentence for your conduct unbecoming a soldier in the United States Army and for failing to honor your contract and obligations with the United States.

"Due to the significant shortage of soldiers, I might review your case in the coming months and let you tell me then which role you have enjoyed the most, a soldier or an inmate.”

If all that was involved was weekend drill, I suspect the answer can be provided by Brown in weeks, not months.

Friday, July 13, 2007

How Soon Would Al Qaeda Attack US?

As stated in this earlier post, Al Qaeda's strategy wouldn't include another attack within the U.S.A. in the foreseeable future since such an attack would be likely to stir us up. If they know us, they would want to leave us alone at home -- expecting that we would be more likely to withdraw from Iraq and perhaps most of southeast Asia when the majority of Americans feel no immediate need to take or continue military action.

Are we getting to the point that the foreseeable future includes an attack within our borders?

Maybe, since the Democrats apparently succeeded in persuading a majority of Americans that the situation in Iraq is not only hopeless but not worth American lives and money.

Note how this report published in the Chicago Tribune indicates that Al Qaeda has infiltrated the U.S.A. --

al-Qaida Works to Plant U.S. Operatives
Associated Press Writer
Published July 13, 2007, 5:51 AM CDT
WASHINGTON -- Al-Qaida is stepping up its efforts to sneak terror operatives into the United States and has acquired most of the capabilities it needs to strike here, according to a new U.S. intelligence assessment, The Associated Press has learned.

And, in this article, note how the Democrats immediately put their own cynically negative "spin" on the interim report submitted to Congress yesterday:

Democrats shun Bush's positive view
Leaders call report proof that war is now a futile effort

By Aamer Madhani and Mike Dorning
Washington Bureau
Published July 13, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Soon after the Iraq report card arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday, skeptical Democrats depicted the Bush administration's positive outlook as a cynical attempt to put a fine gloss on an increasingly grim situation.

The reaction marked at least one profound measure of how the balance of power on the war has begun to shift, with Congress taking an increasingly aggressive posture in its push to force President Bush to bring troops home -- a posture punctuated by Thursday's House vote to require the withdrawal of U.S. forces beginning within 120 days.

If Al Qaeda leaders decide that an attack within the U.S.A. would be more likely to push us over the edge and cause our withdrawal from Iraq (much like the bombings in Spain preceded Spain's withdrawal), then we are in great danger.

How much farther can the Democrats go before Al Qaeda decides an attack in the U.S.A. would be consistent with their strategy?

Maybe we will only know after the attacks occur, but it seems more probable than not that the Democrats have chosen a partisan political strategy that increases the danger for us.

If attacked again within our own borders, how will Americans react? Of course, the Bush haters will be angry at the president -- just as they direct all anger and blame at him when our enemies attack Americans in Iraq. But, how will those who aren't unhinged by hatred of President Bush behave?

Al Qaeda leaders will be pondering that question and, in their effort to answer it, looking closely at how we now behave.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another prediction of global cooling

This would be something to see -- global cooling that may occur before the Goracle can ruin everything with his hype:

There are indications, given both the 80-year and 180-year cycles, that the sun will be much less active over coming decades. The majority of solar cycle methods suggest the next cycle will be less than the last one, which itself was 20 percent less than the prior cycles. NASA (Hathaway), based on the observed slowing of the sun’s plasma flow, predicts that cycle 25, which peaks in 2022, could be the quietest in centuries. Remember that quiet cycles are cool cycles.

Also, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation increasingly shows signs of descending back into its cold mode. This, too, should result in global cooling. The Atlantic may have another decade to go before it cools again.

These three factors suggest a cooling is about to begin. In fact, there are a number of measures, such as ocean heat content (which has not increased in the last 4 years), satellite-derived atmospheric temperatures, and ocean and land temperatures, which are all showing a cooling period over the last 5 to 8 years. It is possible either 1998 or 2001 will end up being the peak of this current warm cycle.

The cooling possibility mentioned in the Canadian article cited in this earlier post may be based on sound fact and reasoning.

Hat tip: Sound Politics commenter "Mike H" (comment 4)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Joe Hill never had it so good

The next time you hear someone complaining about Washington state taxes, it would be a good bet that the complainer is not a state employee represented by a union.

As the Seattle Times reports today, those guys are raking it in -- not shelling it out:

Many state workers are getting the biggest raises they've seen in nearly two decades — maybe the biggest ever — under new contracts negotiated by Gov. Christine Gregoire's office and approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Thousands of workers are getting double-digit increases. Some raises exceed 25 percent. In all, increases in salaries and benefits for some 111,000 state workers will cost nearly $1.6 billion in state, federal and other funds over the next two years.

How long will it take for taxpayers to wise up?