Thursday, July 29, 2004

Swiftboat vets speak out

Laura Ingram, this morning, interviewed Bob Elder, a former swiftboat commander in Vietnam during the time the John Kerry's time there and a member of Swiftboat Veterans For Truth

John Edwards began his speech, last night, with stories of Kerry's heroic actions when he saved a crew member from the river.  According to Lt. Elder, it was a whole lot less exciting than it sounded.  He reported that to have men fall overboard on acceleration was not all that uncommon and they would regularly need to go back and pick them up.  On this occasion, that's what happened.  The biggest difference is, there was no enemy in the area.  There was no enemy fire, nothing.  All that happened was the man fell overboard, he turned the boat around, and they went and picked him up.  If this is the best example of decisive leadership Kerry has, it's pretty sad. 

Lt. Elder related that from the moment Kerry arrived, he told everyone that he was grooming himself to be President.  That's why he volunteered for Vietnam service and that's why he volunteered for swiftboat command.  He wanted to be like JFK in his PT-109.  As soon as he was able to check that off his list, he left after only a 4 month tour of duty while most everyone else had 12 month tours.

From their website,, you can see other interviews and the real story about Kerry's time in Vietnam.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Forever September 10th

As I've read reports on the Democratic National Convention, I've noticed that precious little has been said about Afghanistan, Iraq, and the War on Terror.  It's really not much of a surprise.  Kerry's whole campaign has said little about these things and when pressed, all that he has are sweeping general criticisms of Bush's policies without an alternative. 

Most Americans want more than what the other guy is doing wrong.  They want an alternate plan to compare.  The democrats aren't strong in this.  They don't have another plan to contrast.  They, frankly, don't know what to do.  That's why they basically want the United Nations to take over foreign policies for them. 

Democrats are acting like it's September 10th, 2001 and nothing is really wrong.  They wish that the most important issues to people in this country were making sure the rich paid their share of the taxes, increasing welfare payouts, and won't someone please think of the children!

No matter how much most Americans wish we could go back to when the fear of major terrorist attacks weren't present on their minds, the fact remains we have a very dangerous and hard to fight enemy that won't rest until we all are dead.  Everybody has issues they worry about, but the issue foremost on most Americans' minds is who will make sure they'll still be around come next election.

It's the economy, stupid

The Washington Times, today reported that consumer confidence is at a two year high.

Consumer confidence surged to a two-year high this month as Americans took note of the steadily improving job market, the Conference Board reported yesterday.

Job gains have averaged about 200,000 a month this year after three years of job losses. But consumers — distracted by record-high gasoline prices and problems in Iraq — were slow to notice the trend until gas prices eased this month.

No matter how the democrats try to spin it, people know that the economy is doing great and getting better. Good news for the country is bad news for the democrats. What a tough place for them to be in.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Clinton's legacy ruined!

Clinton says Bush ruined legacy in a speech given in the democratic national convention on Monday.

"The president had an amazing opportunity [after September 11] to bring the country together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in the struggle against terror. Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice," Mr. Clinton said.

"They chose to use that moment of unity to try to push the country too far to the right and to walk away from our allies," he said.
Mr. Clinton, who received a rapturous reception on the first night of the four-day convention, said Mr. Bush walked away from the Democrat's legacy on the environment, public safety and education.

Clinton has been trying to figure out a way to convince everyone that he had left us a legacy from his presidency (a positive one, that is). I guess it begs the question: Don't you have to have one in order to have it ruined?

Monday, July 26, 2004


I went out geo-caching for the first time this weekend.  It was a lot of fun.  It kind of makes you feel like you're on a treasure hunt in an old movie.  A few years ago my family gave me a handheld gps for my birthday because I like to go hiking.  I used a few times.  I wasn't hiking as much as I used to.  I'd mainly use it to keep track of how far my wife and I went when we went for walks or when I went running.

Then I heard about geocahing.  You go to and look up caches of things people have hid in your area.  They have a description of what is in the cache, a good starting point, and the coordinates of the cache.  With your gps in your hand, you try to find it.  Sometimes the website will have hints too that can only be deciphered using a key provided on the page.  This lets you try first and then if you get stuck, have a hint to help you a long.

Since this was my first time, I just decoded the hint from the beginning.  I first had to find the park that was the starting point.  I was given the park name, but I was unfamiliar with it and I couldn't find it in the phone book or the internet.  It also gave me the coordinates of the trailhead at the park so I had to find it using the gps.  This proved harder than I thought.  The San Diego area is full of hills and valleys.  It took me several tries to find the road that actually led me to the coordinates but finally I made it.  While my wife and kids played on the playground, I set off down a wide dirt access road.  I crossed a little stream and then followed the road up the other side.  I got as close as I could via the road then I had to bush-whack to the exact coordinates.  Finally I found myself in a small area surrounded by trees with plenty of rock piles here and there.  The gps can get you within a 6 foot radius.  The hint told me to look for it between a couple of big rocks to the west of a bush. Looking around I finally found it under a couple of large rocks.

It was a small coffee can wrapped with gray duct tape with a plastic lid.  It was surprisingly satisfying to have found the object of my search.  I went through the contents which were mostly random plastic toys that probably came out of kids meals at fast food restaurants.  I found the pencil and notebook in a plastic bag where I could sign my name and write a note to other would-be geo-cachers.  Often a finder will take an object from the cache and replace it with another object.  I hadn't brought anything to leave so I didn't take anything either. 

I walked back to the park where my family was still playing and played with my kids for a while before heading back home. 

Kerry believes life begins at conception but he believes in a woman's right to choose....huh?

Kerry, this past week, has been asked about his view on abortion.  This isn't a first.  He's often been in the press because of how his voting record is at odds with the Catholic church's view on abortion.  Some of the catholic leadership has even gone as far as to publicly request him not to take communion.

This month Kerry has exounded on his beliefs.  He told an Iowa reporter that he believes that life begins at conception and that abortion is morally wrong but he doesn't feel he has the right to legislate what other people believe or prevent them from getting an abortion if they choose right up to the moment of birth.  This is Kerry, once again, trying to have his cake and eat it too.  He's trying to appeal to the values of the more traditional without alienating his more liberal base but does he really think about the implecations of what he says.  If life begins at birth, then an abortion can be nothing less then murder.  It is killing innocent life at the whim of the mother.  Kerry can't have it both ways on this issue.  He needs to make a decision as to which way to believe.  I think he's already made that decision and his voting record goes to show what that decision is. 

It's one thing to have a differing view of the world.  A candidate should at least stand up for what they believe.  I could at least have respect for that.  I have no respect for someone who can't make a stand on any issue or belief.  Kerry has shown himself to be completely incapable of that. 

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Scouting jetliners for new attacks

In the article Scouting jetliners for new attacks from the Washington Post reports other examples, in addition to Annie Jacobsen's report (see below). It sounds like something is coming and it's coming via airplanes again. Some have said that it would be too stupid for terrorists to try to attack us by way of airplanes again because we're watching them too much. Apparently we're still not watching them enough because they're being probed.

9/11 Report

I have just taken a few minutes to read the executive summary of the 9/11 report. The report weighing in at almost 600 pages means that chances are, I won't be reading the whole thing. Maybe I'll use it for some light nighttime reading when insomnia hits ;-).

The thing the report makes clear is that we were unprepared. We didn't have the governmental structure in place to effectively combat and prevent terrorist attacks especially of the caliberof 9/11. It didn't blame any one person or administration. It placed blame on organizations. More specifically, it blamed the structure of the organizations. The CIA wasn't organized effectively to combat terrorism. The FBI did a better job at focusing legal prosecutions after the fact. The military didn't really even have terrorism on the radar. The legislative and executive branches were treating it more on a case by case basis instead of the whole thing as a whole. In short, the government is structured to combat the cold war, not terrorism.

Many of the recommendations, I would agree with. It's biggest recommendation was to essentially create a new department that combats terror as its only function. They want an intelligence Czar where terrorism is concerned.

I was happily surprised that the report seemed to make a concerted effort to not be partisan. During the hearings, it seemed to be behaving partisan enough to cause me concern as to the usefulness of the resulting report. Cheers to actually trying to make things better instead of pushing your political agenda!

Oh, and hopefully this will put to rest the rumors that the Berger incident was only set up by Bush to cause a smoke screen for the supposedly bad report!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Terror in the Skies, Again?

Even thought there has been a lot said about this here and there, I only just heard about it yesterday on my way home from work while listening to the radio.

Annie Jacobsen recently wrote an article Terror in the Skies, Again? in According to Ms. Jacobsen, she was flying across country with her husband and small child and she witnessed, what appeared to her and reportedly many others on the plane, a "dry run" of a terrorist act.

I've looked around the internet at what people are saying about this and I generally have seen several different reactions. People either believe the story and are terrified by it, people think that it was an over reaction probably inspired racist tendencies (the men being middle eastern in appearance), or a publicity stunt created to expose to more people.

In this post 9/11 world, the first reaction is completely understandable. I think there is little doubt that terrorists are still plotting to undermine our efforts in the war on terror and to strike back because of our actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and many of the other financial and political pressure we have put on them. We will have more terrorist attacks against us, the question is only when and how big. Our job and the job of the government is to make it as hard as possible for another attack to happen, and if it does happen, to minimize the damage.

The second reaction is also very possible. At least from the account that she gives, these men were acting very strange and I haven't seen anyone that has denied that what she said really did happen. Is it possible that they were just a Syrian band on their way to a gig at a casino? Yep. Perhaps they all have overactive bladder syndrome, requiring frequent use of the bathroom. Perhaps the man with the McDonald's bag likes to eat while he's doing his business. All of these things are very possible. After all, the FBI questioned them and checked them after they landed and didn't have enough, apparently, to detain them, though I wouldn't be surprised if all of their names, while not previously being on the terrorist watch list, are on that list now.

Nevertheless, to just blame it on racist tendencies is being unfair and is used to cloud the real issues. Ms. Jacobsen's conclusion is that because of the political incorrectness of profiling, we are putting logic and our security second behind not wanting to offend any particular group. On this point, I agree. Profiling is how we narrow down the possible suspects from millions to a more manageable number. People point out that Al Qaeda terrorists can be of any nationality, race, sex, and age and they are correct. There have been a small number of Americans that have been identified as Islamic terrorists. Nevertheless, it is obvious that hijackers and terrorists tend to be young males from the middle east. Why do you think that every hijacker on 9/11 fit this profile? Was it because Osama Bin Laden thought foreign Arabs would be less suspicious and find it easier to get past security? Or was it because finding 19 American born, white, blonde hair, blue eyes terrorists willing to fly airplanes into buildings for the glory of Allah a little more difficult? Let's not infringe upon anyone's rights, but lets not be stupid either.

The third reaction seems to be just a blind lashing out based on the second reason. It's true that women' has received a lot of hits on their site but how can anyone believe that this kind of story could have been orchestrated just for the purpose of publicity, especially in light of the fact that TSA has basically confirmed that most everything that Ms. Jacobsen reported did in fact happen.

The fact remains that nothing happened. The plane landed safely. No one got hurt. So, what should we do with this information? Even if these men were everything they said they were, some of their actions could have been the same actions of real terrorists that in the end could have permitted them to perform their act.

Apparently there were air marshals on board. That would definitely have made it harder for a terrorist to carry out whatever plan they had, but air marshals can't be on every flight across the country.

One suggestion that I heard just after the 9/11 attacks was to redesign new planes that don't have a cockpit door that leads to the passenger area. I know that reinforced cockpit doors have been installed making it harder for them to be broken down, but this doesn't keep a terrorist from using someone as a hostage to get the pilots to open it from the inside. The cockpit could have its own entrance from the outside. Perhaps the pilots would need their own lavatory or something as well. Now this wouldn't stop a hijacking, necessarily, but it absolutely would keep a plane from being used as a missile. During a hijacking situation, the pilot would have little more choice than to land at the nearest airport.

We should also relax some of the restrictions put in place on the TSA to prevent profiling. This doesn't mean that only middle eastern men will ever be looked at, but it allows them to put together, perhaps, a number of different aspects of a profile and match it up with people to make their work a lot more effective. While there's a small chance that grandma with her knitting is going to blow up the plane, maybe we should focus on the Syrian with a stick of dynamite down is pants.