Monthly Archives: November 2012

Terri Schiavo Could Not Be Reached For Comment

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Here is some new research for a court to consider prior to sentencing another person in a vegetative state to death by dehydration , as was done to Terri Schiavo:

 

 

A Canadian man presumed to be in a permanent vegetative state for more than a decade is “talking” to researchers and answering their questions.

Severely brain injured in a traffic crash 12 years ago, Scott Routley’s  condition had been officially classified “vegetative state,” unable to  communicate with the outside world.

His family has always believed differently.

Now, high-tech brain imaging appears to have proven them right.

With the help of functional MRI, Routley has been able to answer “No” to the  question, “Are you in pain?”

The finding, first reported Tuesday by the BBC, could have  profound implications for helping those locked in a vegetative state.

“Brain imaging techniques are helping us to  understand more about what some of these patients can and can’t do, particularly  things they can do that might not be apparent from standard clinical  examination,” said Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for  Brain and Mind. The British neuroscientist moved to Canada last year from the University of Cambridge.

“His official clinical condition has been that he was in a vegetative state.  But his family have always maintained that there is more going on with Scott — that he is aware of many things going on around him, and even that he was able  to communicate,” Owen said in an interview with Postmedia News. Continue reading

Benghazi: A Turn to the Truly Bizarre

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As scandals go, the Benghazi-Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley matter is scaling the heights of the truly bizarre.  Here are the latest developments worthy of the pen of Flaubert.

1.  Jill and the G-Man-Allegedly the FBI agent in charge of the initial investigation of the anonymous e-mails purportedly sent by Paula Broadwell to Jill Kelley warning her to stay away from Petraeus, became infatuated with Kelley and sent her a photo of himself shirtless.  He was removed from the case supposedly when his higher-ups determined that his objectivity had been compromised.  (Do you think?)  He supposedly was the FBI whistleblower who contacted Republican Congressman David Reichert and Eric Cantor with  allegations that the government was dragging its feet on the case out of political considerations so that it would not surface before the election.

2. Jill and the Lawyers-Kelley has supposedly engaged the services of a high-priced lawyer and a PR flack.

The PR flack formerly represented Monica Lewinsky.  Now why should she need them?  Read on.

3.  Jill and the Marine-Marine Corp four star General John Allen is apparently under investigation for 20 to 30 thousand pages of e-mails and correspondence between him and Jill Kelley, the “unpaid social liaison” at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.  Allen is currently the commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, effectively the commander in chief of American and Nato forces in that country.  Both Allen and Petraeus served at the base, home of Central Command for the Middle East, prior to Petraeus being put in command in Afghanistan in 2010. Continue reading

Runnymede

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The sixteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here and here.

One of the great passions in the life of Kipling was English history.  Runnymede was one of several poems on English history he wrote for A School History of England (1911).  Another great passion of his was liberty, and in the poem Runnymede, Kipling combined both of these passions.  Whenever in English history some great struggle has arisen since 1215 the cry of Magna Carta has usually been raised.  The basis of English liberty, the Great Charter has an honored place both in English and American history.  To look at Magna Carta with a modern eye is initially to be disappointed, since much of it deals with disputes between his barons and King John  which, at first glance, lacks any contemporary relevance.  However, the binding of the power of the government, and the restriction of the scope and power of the State, is of crucial importance today, as it is in all times and places.  There are passages additionally that do have a contemporary resonance:

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

It is no accident that Saint Thomas More referred to the passage in Magna Carta that guarantees the liberty of the Church  in his speech after his trial:

That Law was even contrary to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King’s Majesty himself, and every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their Coronations. Continue reading

204K Swing in Votes and Romney Would Have Been President

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Since the defeat of Romney last Tuesday there have been a plethora of gloom and doom stories written about the GOP by gleeful Leftists and conservatives who should know better.  Jim Gerahty at National Review Online gives us some needed perspective:

 

 

On Wednesday, I added up Obama’s margin in a few key states, to get a sense of just how agonizingly short the Romney campaign finished from 270 electoral votes.

Some of those straggling precincts have reported, and so here is an updated set of numbers, according to the results this morning on the New York Times’ results map:

Florida: 73,858

Ohio: 103,481

Virginia: 115,910

Colorado: 113,099

Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.

Obama’s margin in some other key states:

Nevada: 66,379

Iowa: 88,501

New Hampshire: 40,659

At this hour, 120,556, 279 votes for Obama and Romney have been counted nationwide. Continue reading

Militia Immediately Prior to the American Revolution

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In the first post in this series on militia in the American Revolution, which may be read here, we looked at American militia in the Colonial period. In the years following the French and Indian War, as Great Britain and her colonies increasingly clashed, several of the colonies began to beef up their militias as an armed clash with Great Britain moved from unthinkable to likely. Massachusetts took the lead in this process with the formation of minutemen companies. This was not an innovation. The Massachusetts militia had fielded minutemen companies since 1645. These were young men, no more than 30, chosen for their physical strength and endurance, and formed into picked companies.

The necessity for putting the Massachusetts militia on a war footing was underlined in 1774. General Thomas Gage was appointed military governor of Massachusetts in early 1774. He embarked on a campaign to disarm the Massachusetts militia. In an event that is largely forgotten today but was a huge event throughout the colonies in 1774, on September 1, 1774 Gage sent an expedition of British troops to seized the powder at the arsenal located in Sommerville, Massachusetts. The British succeeded in their mission and almost started the Revolutionary War. Militia units formed up in alarm throughout Massachusetts and surrounding colonies in New England, thinking that a war had begun while wild rumors flew, and it was several days before calm was restored. This Powder Alarm caused the militia in Massachusetts and the colonies to take steps to protect their arsenals for fear of a deliberate British policy to disarm them and leave them helpless before the redcoats. The stage was set for Lexington and Concord. Continue reading

Benghazi: Drip, Drip, Drip

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The truth about the Benghazi debacle keeps coming out drip by drip:

1.  Paula Knows-At the beginning of the post we see the alleged mistress of David Petraeus telling an audience at a symposium in late October this bombshell:

 “A group of Delta Force operators are very…the most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and CIA annex that were under attack,” said Ms. Broadwell. “Now I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this, but the CIA annex had actually had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to get these prisoners back. It’s still being vetted.”

This is the first I have heard about this.  Was Petraeus sharing highly classified information with his paramour?

2.  Video Schmideo-The above detail from the mouth of Broadwell makes nonsense of the administration claim that the Mohammed video caused this.  That was a lie and the Administration knew it was a lie.

3.  Libyan Prisoners-Libyan prisoners?  What sort of involvement is the administration getting us into in Libya?  The CIA has denied this, but right now I will take the word of the alleged mistress of the former CIA Director over that of the CIA flack who issued the denial. Continue reading

Veteran’s Day: Why We Remember

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When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Infantry Division at Kohima.

World War I was a ghastly conflict with tens of millions of men slaughtered in all the horrors that war in the industrial age was capable of mustering.  After the War which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Veterans Day was set aside on November 11 to honor those men who had fought with courage for their country.  In our country Veteran’s Day eventually came to honor all those who had served in the military.  As Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “It is all together fitting and proper that we do this.”  Why it is important that we do that I will leave to Father Francis P. Duffy who served as a chaplain with the Fighting 69th in France in World War I.  You may read prior posts about him here and here.  Father Duffy was a man of faith and courage, so much courage that it was proposed that he be nominated for the Medal of Honor until he laughed at the idea.  His leadership skills were so valued that General Douglas MacArthur even briefly considered placing him, a chaplain, in command of the 69th, which would have been a first in American military history.  When the 69th got back to New York after the War Father Duffy wrote about its reception and why it was important to honor the men who had served, and, especially, the silent victors who remained in graves in France:

It was a deserved tribute to a body of citizen soldiers who had played such a manful part in battle for the service of the Republic. The appreciation that the country pays its war heroes is for the best interest of the State. I am not a militarist, nor keen for military glory. But as long as liberties must be defended, and oppression or aggression put down, there must always be honor paid to that spirit in men which makes them willing to die for a righteous cause. Next after reason and justice, it is the highest quality in citizens of a state. Continue reading

Happy 237th Birthday to the Corps

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You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.

 Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

 

Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.
Ordered, That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.

Second Continental Congress on 10 November 1775 Continue reading

An Admiral and Two Generals

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Well, I have to hand it to the Obama administration.  Obama reelected on Tuesday, they are already getting a start on the scandals that tend to plague most second term Presidents.  The resignation of CIA Director, retired General David Petraeus, over an alleged affair, a week before he was to testify before a Senate committee on Benghazi, brings to three the number of high-ranking officers connected with Benghazi, or its aftermath, who have seen their careers abruptly cut short.

Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette was relieved of his command of the Stennis strike group in the Mediterranean in late October.  Such a removal is unprecedented.  The Navy denies that the removal was in regard to Benghazi, and indeed the Stennis was in the Pacific on 9/11/12.   However the Navy has issued a fairly cryptic statement that the removal was for “inappropriate leadership judgment” during the deployment of the Stennis to the Middle East and has stressed that this does not involve any improper personal conduct by the Admiral.  All very mysterious.

The Combatant Commander of Africa Command  on 9/11/12, General Carter F. Ham abruptly retired on October 18.  Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz reported that in an interview he had with General Ham in Libya that the General told him that in regard to the Benghazi attach he had never been asked to provide military assistance.  The internet is ablaze with rumors that General Ham attempted to send assistance to Benghazi during the attack and was told to stand down.  Thus far the General has remained mum.

In regard to General Petraeus there are many questions.  Allegedly the  affair came to light months ago when the FBI caught his alleged paramour attempting to access his e-mails.  One might be curious as to why the FBI was involved in this and the answer is quite simple.  The FBI and the CIA have been at war with each other since the creation of the CIA’s predecessor the OSS in World War II and routinely keep track of the higher-ups in each organization.  (Yeah, I know:  our tax dollars at work.)  Apparently the affair has been known for at least several months, and I find it hard to believe that both the CIA and the FBI did not know of the affair before Petraeus was onfirmed as CIA Director, the background checks for such a position being extremely comprehensive.  This all raises the question as to why the affair triggers a resignation now.  His wife Holly works for the White House and unless she was in the dark on the affair, and considering how gossipy the military community tends to be I find that hard to believe, presumably the affair was known at the White House.

Petraeus is up to his arm pits in Benghazi, having denied that it was the CIA that failed to provide military assistance to the two brave Seals, Ty Woods and Greg Doherty, who died heroically leading the defense at Benghazi.  Now that he is retired, his deputy Mike Morell will testify next week.  Eventually I assume Petraeus will also testify, he has indicated post resignation that he is eager to testify, but now the story in much of the Mainstream Media will be pertaining to his affair rather than to his testimony. Continue reading

O God Our Help in Ages Past

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Something for the weekend.  After the election results this week, I suspect that O God Our Help in Ages Past, sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, will be of consolation to many of us.  Written by Isaac Watts in 1719 it is a magnificent hymn based on Psalm 89. (Psalm 90 in Protestant Bibles.)  The hymn is sung to the tune of Saint Anne written in 1708 by William Croft.  Here is the text of Psalm 89 which reminds us of the omnipotence of God in spite of the transitory events of this life that preoccupy us: Continue reading

The Election in Two Images

I’ve been mostly offline the last couple days due to a business trip — leaving early the morning after the election. I may write a bit about the election itself in a few days, but since I’ve spent the last couple days deeply immersed in ways of visualizing data, these two versions of the election map struck me as really interesting in showing what went on Tuesday.

This first image shows the size of the winning candidate’s margin for each county. (click for a larger view) [source]

This second image shows the direction of change in the vote of each county as compared to 2008.

UPDATE: Okay, one more image because with all the discussion of re-alignment and emerging majorities I couldn’t help putting one together:

Beached Killer Whale

 

 

Yesterday in my post on how the Republican Party can find its way back from the political wilderness I wrote this:

1.  Professionalism-The Democrats and their campaign staffs approach politics as a business, if not a war.  Republicans have for far too long tolerated well-meaning amateurism as a substitute for professional competence in politics.  Politics is a job like any other, and professional staffs can help take a lot of the ineffectiveness and clumsiness out of our campaigns.

A prime example of what I was referring to is contained in this post mortem by Breitbart of the disastrous Orca get out the vote project of the Romney campaign:

A source within the Romney campaign agreed to share his reflections on Project Orca with Breitbart News:

    It’s easy to point fingers after a loss and I wouldn’t normally do it, but consider what happened.

    Project Orca was supposed to enable poll watchers to record voter names on their smartphones, by listening for names as voters checked in. This would give the campaign real-time turnout data, so they could redirect GOTV resources throughout the day where it was most needed. They recruited 37,000 swing state volunteers for this.

    I worked on the Colorado team, and we were called by hundreds (or more) volunteers who couldn’t use the app or the backup phone system. The usernames and passwords were wrong, but the reset password tool didn’t work, and we couldn’t change phone PINs. We were told the problems were limited and asked to project confidence, have people use pencil and paper, and try to submit again later.

    Then at 6PM they admitted they had issued the wrong PINs to every volunteer in Colorado, and reissued new PINs (which also didn’t work). Meanwhile, counties where we had hundreds of volunteers, such as Denver Colorado, showed zero volunteers in the system all day, but we weren’t allowed to add them. In one area, the head of the Republican Party plus 10 volunteers were all locked out. The system went down for a half hour during peak voting, but for hundreds or more, it never worked all day. Many of the poll watchers I spoke with were very discouraged. Many members of our phone bank got up and left.

    I do not know if the system was totally broken, or if I just saw the worst of it. But I wonder, because they told us all day that most volunteers were submitting just fine, yet admitted at the end that all of Colorado had the wrong PIN’s. They also said the system projected every swing state as pink or red.

    Regardless of the specific difficulties, this idea would only help if executed extremely well. Otherwise, those 37,000 swing state volunteers should have been working on GOTV…

    Somebody messaged me privately after my email and told me that North Carolina had the same problems — every pin was wrong and not fixed until 6PM — and was also told it was localized to North Carolina.

The problems with Orca appear to have been nationwide, and predated Election Day itself. At Ace of Spades, John Ekdahl reported his frustrations as a volunteer in the field:

    From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.

    Working primarily as a web developer, I had some serious questions. Things like “Has this been stress tested?”, “Is there redundancy in place?” and “What steps have been taken to combat a coordinated DDOS attack or the like?”, among others. These types of questions were brushed aside (truth be told, they never took one of my questions). They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.

Ekdahl describes how volunteers were expected to print their own materials, and were mistakenly not told to bring their poll watching credentials to polling places. Attempts to communicate with the Romney campaign to ask for assistance were unsuccessful:

    By 2PM, I had completely given up. I finally got ahold of someone at around 1PM and I never heard back. From what I understand, the entire system crashed at around 4PM. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I decided to wait for my wife to get home from work to vote, which meant going very late (around 6:15PM). Here’s the kicker, I never got a call to go out and vote. So, who the hell knows if that end of it was working either. Continue reading

George W. Obama?

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“History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot.”  Attributed to Mark Twain although it cannot be found in his writings.  Looking at the 2012 election I am struck by how much it reminds me of the 2004 election.  The Democrats that year were as confident of victory  as we Republicans were this year.  Bush derangement syndrome was in full bloom among the Democrats as it had been since the battle over Florida’s electoral votes, and the Iraq war, which the Democrats increasingly opposed as the insurgency went on, added to their Bush hatred.  Bush presided over an infinitely better economy than Obama in 2012 but the public was increasingly uneasy about Iraq as the insurgency went on and the casualty lists grew.

Democrat confidence rested upon their erroneous assumption that the wider public largely shared, to some degree, the antipathy they felt for Bush.  Additionally, with Gore having won the popular vote in 2000, it was assumed that Bush would not be that hard to beat.  John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts liberal Senator, was not a particularly inspiring nominee, but he kept close to Bush in the polls, occasionally taking the lead, and performed well in the debates in which Bush seemed somewhat tongue-tied and tired.  Election day closed with the Democrats gleefully examining exit polls which predicted a sweeping Kerry victory.  Alas for the Democrats it was not to be, as Bush, with the assistance of a good GOTV operation in Ohio, amassed a popular vote victory over Kerry by 2.4% and an electoral vote total of 286.  The Republicans padded their Senate majority with a total of 55 Republican senators at the end of the election and gained three seats in the House for a total of 232. Continue reading

Is Media Bias An Even Bigger Problem Now?

One of the reasons my more pessimistic (and, as it turns out, realistic) friends cited for believing that Mitt Romney would lose is media bias. I dismissed this not so much because I don’t believe that media bias isn’t an issue, but because I thought that there were enough countervailing forces to push Romney over the hump. Whoops.

I’m still leery of citing media bias as a principle cause of Barack Obama’s victory because doing so would diminish the more serious issues, and there are no shortage of reasons explaining why Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney. That said, it’s clear that a compliant media helped. From Candy Crowley giving a big assist at the second debate, to media silence over Benghazi (which followed years of silence on Fast and Furious), to harping on every minor (and not so minor) GOP flub, it’s clear that conservatives have been swimming upstream against a media tide.

But Ronald Reagan dealt with a biased media, and he managed to defeat Jimmy Carter, and then went on to win an even bigger landslide against Walter Mondale. Moreover, Reagan accomplished that in an ere where the only major national news sources were left wing networks and a handful of national daily newspapers. Now there are institutions like Fox News, talk radio, and blogs and other alternative media outlets. Haven’t these leveled the playing field?

Well, the problem is there are left-wing new media outlets, and they are just as well-read and well-watched as the right-wing outlets. Sure Fox is the king of cable news, but the sum total of the other television and cable networks outdraws the Fox viewership. And while talk radio may be dominated by the right, the left has outpaced the right when it comes to electronic media.

More importantly, while right-wing alternative media outlets may draw some non-partisans, we have become a polarized country even when it comes to our sources of news information. David French linked to a very informative graph that shows how conservatives and liberals are simply digesting news in very different ways, and left-leaning sources are ones which are very influential in the broader culture. We may shake our heads in disgust over the fact that many young people actually rely on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart as a credible news source, but that doesn’t make it any less true. As French notes, so-called moderates tend to read or watch left-leaning sites and programs, thus the new right-wing media isn’t penetrating the core demographic of younger voters. As someone perhaps more tuned into pop culture sites than most in these parts, I can testify that there is a definite leftist tilt that certainly influences those who are otherwise not especially tuned into current events.

I would also argue that the 24/7 news cycle hasn’t redounded to the right’s advantage. Sure Rather, Cronkite, Jennings, Brokaw and others were heavily influential, but they were on for 30 minutes a day – 22 if you factor in commercials. If a conservative politician made a blunder, they could plaster it on the nightly news, but then it was largely forgotten for another 23 hours. Now that blunder will be tweeted and re-tweeted, blogged about, joked about by Colbert and Stewart, mentioned on “apolitical” humor and culture sites, and broadcast on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and even Fox. There’s no place to hide. So while news outlets ignore the  president’s dithering while his ambassador was killed, everyone is sure to hear about “legitimate rapes” over and over again.

I maintain that there are bigger problems than media bias to overcome, but it is a larger problem than I had thought previously.

I Am Shocked, Shocked!

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Democrats producing fraudulent votes in inner city Philadelphia:

Across Philadelphia, GOP poll inspectors were forcibly (and illegally) removed from polling locations. Coincidentally (or not), Mr. Obama received “astronomical” numbers in those very same regions, including locations where he received “over 99%” of the vote.

Ward 4, which also had a poll watcher dressed in Obama attire, went massively for Obama. Mr. Obama received 99.5% of the vote, defeating Mr. Romney 9,955 to 55.

Is it odd that a county that expelled GOP inspectors and had people openly campaigning for Obama ended with 99.5% for Obama and 9955 votes for him? It’s up to you to decide. Continue reading

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