Thursday, September 22, 2005

Media Distortion in Iraq

Hat tip to Right Thinking People for this link to a U.S. Army officer's description of the MSM's efforts to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Go read the entire article - it confirms what I have thought for a while. Thank goodness for sites like the fourth rail and the Belmont club for useable information on what is going on, along with the countless miliblogs out there.
Here is an excerpt:
What about the media's portrayal of the enemy? Why do these ruthless murderers, kidnappers and thieves get a pass when it comes to their actions? What did the the media show or tell us about Margaret Hassoon, the director of C.A.R.E. in Iraq and an Iraqi citizen, who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and left disemboweled on a street in Fallujah? Did anyone in the press show these images over and over to emphasize the moral failings of the enemy as they did with the soldiers at Abu Ghuraib?
Did anyone show the world how this enemy had huge stockpiles of weapons in schools and mosques, or how he used these protected places as sanctuaries for planning and fighting in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq? Are people of the world getting the complete story? The answer again is no! What the world got instead were repeated images of a battle-weary Marine who made a quick decision to use lethal force and who immediately was tried in the world press. Was this one act really illustrative of the overall action in Fallujah? No, but the Marine video clip was shown an average of four times each hour on just about every major TV news channel for a week. This is how the world views our efforts over here and stories like this without a counter continually serve as propaganda victories for the enemy. Al Jazeera isn't showing the film of the C.A.R.E. worker, but is showing the clip of the Marine. Earlier this year, the Iraqi government banned Al Jazeera from the country for its inaccurate reporting. Wonder where they get their information now? Well, if you go to the Internet, you'll find a web link from the Al Jazeera home page to CNN's home page. Very interesting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Let Wal*Mart run FEMA!

A great article about how private sector companies like Wal*Mart stepped up to provide help while the various levels of government and agencies fiddled like Nero by Mike Tierney of the New York Times(!) - reprinted in the Tallahassee Democrat. This segment in the article sums it all up:

If you mention the Red Cross or FEMA to people in Slidell, you hear rants about help that didn't arrive and phone lines that are always busy. If you mention state or national politicians, you hear obscenities.

But if you visit the Wal-Mart and the Sam's Club stores here, you hear shoppers who have been without power for weeks marveling that there are still generators in stock (and priced at $304.04). You hear about the trucks that rolled in right after the hurricane and the stuff the stores gave away: chain saws and boots for rescue workers, sheets and clothes for shelters, water and ice for the public.

"This was the only place we could find water those first days," said Rashan Smith, who was shopping with her three children at Wal-Mart on Saturday. "I still haven't managed to get through to FEMA. It's hard to say, but you get more justice at Wal-Mart."

This just supports my thoughts that the government could get out of 99% of the things it does and let the private sector do it cheaper, and more efficiently.

Why do we elect Republicans?

I am reminded of a quote from Bob Novak, which I'll paraphrase: "Republicans were put on earth to cut taxes and spending, and if they're not going to do that, why elect them?" This comes to mind in light of Congresses and President Bush's profligate spending the past few months. Examples are the pork ridden farm and highway bill, and now an 'economic Marshall Plan" for the areas stricken by hurricane Katrina. I have seen any sincere effort by the Republican leadership, whether it be in Congress or the White House -to detail any offsets that will fun the disaster recovery plan.
This is reminding me of the Mulroney government of the 80's - they had a huge mandate to cut spending and taxes and did neither. At least I'll give the Republicans credit for getting it half right. However, if they don't start reigning in spending and start paring back the scope of government, a lot of conservatives will start wondering aloud that if they wanted big government spending, they'd elect Democrats.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mmmm .. Malt Liquor

I had to post this in its entirety - copyright be dammed - this is too funny!

Candy is dandy, but malt liquor is quicker

... by James Montgomery

I bet a lot of people didn't know that the real reason St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland wasn't because they were pagan creatures, but because the serpents were trying to swipe his cachet of ice-cold Olde English.

So, this St. Patrick's Day, while most people are quaffing overpriced pints of Guiness, I think a more fitting tribute to St. Patrick's brave act is to crack open a few quarts of fine malt liquor.

Also, you could crack open quarts for the New Orleans Saints, NCAA basketball tournament qualifiers St. John's and St. Bonnaventure or the great city of St. Paul, Minn.

Yes, malt liquor has a rich history. During the Middle Ages, a quart of it was as valued as fine silk from the Orient, and I think that malt liquor was the reason the Crusades were fought.

Thus, let us celebrate its long and storied past.

Before we get started, I would like to say that the selection of malt liquor available in this town sucks. In order to find different malts, I had to drive all over the place. But in the end, it was all worth it. And so, without any further delay, my swollen liver and I are proud to present a beginner's guide to malt liquor.

Olde English 800
a.k.a. the eight ball, a.k.a. olde anguish
Hmmmm. What can be said about Olde English 8? Well, for starters, it's the Cadillac of malt liquors - much respected and revered. Smooth sippin' on this one, although the aftertaste resembles napalm. After drinking OE, you want to call your grandma on the telephone and confess all of your sins to her. It looks like piss in a bottle, which is common for most malts, and it tastes much the same. I cannot give OE a bad review, as it is the flagship of malt liquor; I can only say that it tastes like diesel fuel and finishes like lighter fluid. In other words, it's a great malt liquor for beginners to earn their wings with.

Coqui 90
a.k.a. the great equalizer.
Oh, sweet Jesus. This is the malt of champs. I've only found this malt in a few select stores around town (usually the ones which smell of urine), but it's well worth the search. This is the malt that doesn't mess around. To give you an idea of it's potency, I once drank three quarts of the stuff and was only able to lie on the floor moaning "Coqui 900.... Coqui 900." In its purest form, I believe that you can power a lawnmower with it. It's what you find clutched in the hands of drunken bums late at night. It tastes nasty, but what do you expect? It packs a mean wallop.

Bull Ice
This is what fine malt liquor is all about. Bull Ice is all business: the label says its 7.9 percent alcohol, but it leaves you feeling like its 70.9 percent. One of the only malts in the survey that left the honored judge feeling really debilitated, and it was one of the cheapest ones I found. It's a thick malt, and it tastes like a rusty nail. As an added bonus, on the inside of the label is a picture of a bull's head, which, as the quart progresses, becomes more and more blurry, which is both astonishing and fun. Plus, it gains mad review points for having a tight African-print label.

the official beverage of my job
Well, the title about says it all: this IS the official beverage of my job. I have seen normal men drink of this holy chalice and then become endowed with super-human mopping abilities. It tastes like glue and its consistency is much the same. The only downside to Hurricane is that it packs a weak wallop. (I feel now is as good a time as any to remind you that a good malt liquor is two things: cheap and potent-Hurricane is neither.) Despite its weak bite, Hurricane holds a special place in my heart because I have drank many of them and then served the public. Plus, it's the only thing I'll touch whenever I watch the Weather Channel.

Olde English Ice 800
Do you remember the girl (or boy) you once loved? The one you shared laughter, cuddles and all your earthly secrets with? The one who you thought you'd take a bullet for, the one you thought you couldn't live without...until they cheated on you and ripped your still-beating heart from deep within your ribcage and danced all over it? Olde English Ice 800 is all those feelings combined into one 32-ounce bottle: this shit is bitter. Drinking this stuff is much like losing the love of your life, except that the label features a black panther, ready to strike. Whatever the hell that means.

a.k.a. the family malt
Bottled malt liquor taste in a can - isn't life great? This was one of few malts I could find in a grocery store. When you drink it, it leaves an aftertaste like you just licked a concrete wall. The fact that it's in a can allows for the whole Billy Dee Williams effect: you can pour one of these into a glass bottle and look like the elegant, smooth drinker. A good malt for beginners.

Colt 45
a.k.a. the Bespin malt
Speaking of Billy Dee, this is his original joint. It is surprisingly smooth sipping for a malt, and it actually leaves a good taste in your mouth. Simply knowing that once upon a time Lando was sippin on this shit in the cloud city of Bespin makes it intriguing; the fact that it has had the same label since the late '70s makes it a must-drink.

a.k.a. the mullet malt
Feel the sting of the bee. This shit is strong enough to make you renounce your religion. Not to be confused with Mickey's Ice, this malt is neither ice-brewed nor good tasting. This is the stuff you reach for when all other malts are gone. Mickey's manages to be both awful tasting yet strongly appealing. Usually seen being bought by mullet-heads and guys who drive Camaros, no lie.

Silver Thunder
When it comes to Silver Thunder, there was only one man to turn to: world-renowned malt liquor connoisseur, Brian Montgomery:

"By far the best malt liquor for under one dollar. Besides, drinking the thunder will make you reminisce of your corner, brown-baggin', hood days. Silver Thunder provides an OE-type taste, but is only recommended when the funds are low and the hoes are slow. You can find Silver Thunder mainly in gas stations and convenience stores around 75th Street (a.k.a. Tower Road). So, if you're looking for the cheap, G-style drunkenness, then Silver Thunder is the quart for you."

St. Ides
Once again, Mr. Montgomery:

"First off, this quart is not to be mistaken for the sissy-ass fruity flavor known to most high-school kids. This quart is packed with a Tyson-type cross that will set you on the floor after one round. Many of you young marks will complain about the shortage of this special punch in Gainesville. In order to obtain a mean headache, you eager drinkers must travel to Georgia. Let me tell you, the 7.5 percent alcohol mix will set you free. Trust me, the trip is well worth the pleasure. After the breaking of the's on like Donkey Kong."

King Cobra
A nice, solid brew, with a finish that resembles pine. A zesty bouquet, fully of mountain-fresh berries and hardy earthen tones. Just kidding. This malt tastes and smells like stale urine. Being one of the more elusive malts, I had to drive deep into the heart of the hood just to catch a glimpse of it. King Cobra has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, except that the morning after drinking it, you want to swear off any form of alcohol, which might improve your grades. And it has a cool label.

St. Ides Special Brew
a.k.a. the sissy malt
First off, I don't even know if this stuff is actually malt liquor. All I know is that it is sold in only the most ghetto-ass convenience stores and drinking too much of it makes your teeth tingle. This shit is like drinking liquid sugar. I prefer the Kiwi flavor, but it all tastes pretty much the same. Drinking it reminds you of your glory days in elementary school when a gulp of JOLT! Cola would get you keyed up. Despite all that, the fact that you look like a sissy when drinking it earns Special Brew a thumbs-down from me.

Mickey's Ice
a.k.a. the old friend
Okay, so I know that the label says this stuff isn't really malt liquor but rather an "Ice Brewed Ale," but the fact you can find it in some stores for under a dollar qualifies it as a malt. Mickey's Ice is an old favorite, and drinking it is like having a nice dinner with an old friend. Back in the day, my friends and I would drink cases of this stuff. Its smooth taste, decent punch and cool green-tinted bottle make Mickey's Ice a perennial fan favorite.

One day, as I was driving around some of Alachua County's more "rural" areas in search of malt liquor, I stumbled upon a convenience store that sold something I had only heard of in urban legends: fine screw-top wines. While not malt liquor, screw-top wines manage to be ten times as ghetto as even the nastiest malt. I decided to include them:

Night Train Express
Man, I didn't even know they made this stuff. The label advises you to "serve very cold," as if that makes any difference. This stuff tastes like grape cough syrup mixed with lighter fluid. After drinking a 750 ML bottle I was knocked out, which allowed the people I was drinking with to take several "candid" photos of my passed-out ass, which featured, among other things, a fake penis, a Penthouse magazine and a sock. Needless to say, this "citrus wine with natural flavors" is not for beginners. Strangely enough, the label says that it "contains sulfites," which may or may not kill you.

What's the word? Thunderbird. The label says that it is "an American classic," which should make our founding fathers very proud. Another "citrus wine with natural flavors," Thunderbird is actually much tastier than Night Train. Actually, it wasn't half-bad, and I was able to finish off a bottle real quick. I would definitely recommend picking up a bottle the next time you are entertaining that special someone. Just think, a nice dinner, soft music, candlelight and a fine bottle of Thunderbird. The label says that it, too, contains sulfites...strange.

MD 20/20
a.k.a. Mad Dog 20/20
Sickeningly sweet and iridescent in color, MD is the stuff even the most hardcore of the homeless won't touch. One time, I went on a deep-sea fishing trip and took along two bottles of this stuff. A few hours later, I was vomiting over the side of the boat, and fish would come up and eat it. Ah, memories. Also, Elliot Smith recorded a song about Kiwi Mad Dog, which makes it the official beverage of indie rockers everywhere.

So there you go: a beginner's guide to malt liquor, plus a few screw-top wines thrown in for good measure. Now, hopefully, instead of plunking down your hard-earned cash on some fancy-dancy import pint this St. Patrick's Day, you will take that money, drive to the most fowl-smelling convenience store you can find, and invest in three or four quarts.

I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remember - We are at war

Please remember, the best way to serve the memory of those who perished four years ago today is to achieve victory over Islamofascism - total victory. This is a fight for the survival of Western Civilization, and anything less than a steely commitment to victory will result in our demise.

I have friends who survived what happened at the WTC, and acquaintances who perished there as well. They were unwilling participants in an act of war, not a 'misunderstanding', not a 'we had it coming'. There is no appeasement for these jackals, and no mercy should be shown to those who aid and abet those who wish us harm.

Some days I wonder if those in the White House truly understand it. I wonder why they aren't tightening the screws on Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Palestinian Authority, just to name a few. Some times I think we are too timid in our resolve to act decisively, that we don't understand that we need total unconditional victory to eliminate this cancer in our world.

Sixty years ago, we showed our resolve against National Socialism, Fascism, and Japanese Imperialism - we didn't accept half measures or meekness in our struggle, nor should we today.

I hope that we are all remember that we are at war. We did not start it, but we shall finish it. Those who stand against freedom and liberty must be destroyed, in order for our civilization to survive.

I have linked Mark Steyn's thoughts on this above - he says it a lot better than I do.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Now this is government waste I can support

Michael Goldfarb writes in the Weekly Standard about the new U.S Navy Destroyer DD(Rex) stealth destroyer - the next generation of naval warfare (artist's rendition on the right). Goldfarb discusses the key features:

DD(X) is designed to be the quietest surface ship in the fleet. The ship will be quieter even than the Los Angeles class submarines. More remarkable, however, is the ship's unique design, which will greatly enhance its ability to remain invisible to electronic surveillance. To reduce the ship's radar signature, the ship's designers have eliminated right angles from the deck. In addition, the ship's superstructure is built out of a composite material of wood and plastic--the effect of which is both to absorb radar and lessen the overall weight of the ship (leaving room for future, weight-intensive improvements).

Perhaps the most visibly striking feature of the DD(X) is its wave-piercing, tumblehome hull form. The tumblehome hull has a twofold effect. By having the hull slope inward from the waterline, the hull's exposure to waves is reduced, which in turn reduces the rocking motion of the ship, making it less easily detected by enemy radar. In addition, the tumblehome hull will make the DD(X) far more survivable than its predecessors in the event of an underwater explosion from a torpedo or mine. The Navy has already tested a quarter scale model at the Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland and achieved impressive results.
DD(X) will be less vulnerable to attacks above the waterline as well. Unlike the DDG's, DD(X) will employ a first of its kind Peripheral Vertical Launch System (PVLS). Missiles are typically stored in clusters at the center of a ship. PVLS, by moving those clusters to the hull, will provide the ship with something reminiscent of the reactive armor fitted to the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank. The PVLS concept has already been successfully tested, and will make this ship significantly less vulnerable to sea-skimming missiles like the French Exocet employed by Argentina against the British in the Falklands and those developed over the last decade by China.

The DD(X) will sail with a state of the art, dual band radar, which is one of the signature features of the new ship--and one of the primary reasons the Navy decided to invest in the DD(X) instead of upgrading their existing fleet of DDG's. The Spy-3 Multi-Function Radar has proven vastly superior to its antecedents in land-based testing. It offers 15-times greater detection against sea-skimming targets, 20 percent greater firm-track range against all antiship cruise missiles (which improves survivability), a 10-times increase in maximum track capacity, and dramatic improvements of performance in jamming environments.

DESPITE ALL THIS, the most intriguing element of DD(X) is its guns. Each 155mm gun will fire a Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). The LRLAP has already been successfully tested to 83 nautical miles. Though it only carries 24 lbs of high explosives, the Advanced Gun System (AGS) is fully automated and holds a magazine of 300 rounds. With a rate of fire of 10 rounds a minute, the AGS should be able to provide the volume fire capability the Navy so desperately needs, and with GPS-guidance the LRLAP will be extremely accurate.
Now I hope the Navy builds a fleet of these, and then some. In light of developments by the Chinese navy - it should be the goal of the U.S. Navy to be generations ahead of all other powers in terms of technology and warfighting ability.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tree Huggers, New Orleans & Hurricanes

This article in National Review Online discusses the impact the environmentalist might have had on the devastation in New Orleans. I have blamed them for the ensuing spike in the price of gasoline, as their efforts have ensured that not one new refinery has been built in the U.S. in the last 25 years, coupled with their efforts to detrail drilling in ANWAR.

With all that has happened in the state, it’s understandable that the Louisiana chapter of the Sierra Club may not have updated its website. But when its members get around to it, they may want to change the wording of one item in particular. The site brags that the group is “working to keep the Atchafalaya Basin,” which adjoins the Mississippi River not far from New Orleans, “wet and wild.”

These words may seem especially inappropriate after the breaking of the levee that caused the tragic events in New Orleans last week. But “wet and wild” has a larger significance in light of those events, and so does the group using the phrase. The national Sierra Club was one of several environmental groups who sued the Army Corps of Engineers to stop a 1996 plan to raise and fortify Mississippi River levees.

Hopefully when this tragedy is examined in retrospect, groups like the Sierra Club get their knuckles rapped for impeding efforts to protect the people who live on the Mississippi from floods.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mark Steyn On Katrina

Over the past few days, I have read a lot of the great coverage of what's happening down in New Orleans. I have found that there has been so much written, that I really didn't have much to bring to the table. However, what I did find interesting, is how Mark Steyn once again looks at the situation and really distills a whole brew of issue into its basic absurdity:

After Sept. 11, many people who should have known better argued that it was somehow a vindication of government.

"One of the things that's changed so much since Sept. 11," agreed Vice President Dick Cheney, "is the extent to which people do trust the government -- big shift -- and value it, and have high expectations for what we can do."

Hard to see why he'd say that. Sept. 11 was an appalling comprehensive failure of just about every relevant federal agency. The only government that worked that day was local and state: The great defining image, redeeming American honor at a moment of national humiliation, is those brave New York firemen pounding up the stairs of the World Trade Center. What consolations can be drawn from the lopsided tango between slapdash bureaucrats and subhuman predators in New Orleans?

To be fair, next door, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has been the Giuliani of the hour, and there are many tales of great courage, like the teams from the Children's Hospital of Alabama who've been helicoptering in to New Orleans to rescue newborn babies.

The comparison with Sept. 11 isn't exact, but it's fair to this extent: Katrina was the biggest disaster on American soil since that day provoked the total overhaul of the system and the devotion of billions of dollars and the finest minds in the nation to the prioritizing of homeland security. It was, thus, the first major test of the post-9/11 structures. Happy with the results?
Well, that is the crux of things now when we look at the response overall? The closer the government is to the people, the more responsive it is. Perhaps the answer is shrinking the federal government even more rather than throwing money at it?