"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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Saturday, November 20, 2004
  A Republican Specter
Republican Sen. Arlen Specter has undergone his trial by fire, having survived intense attacks from conservative republicans. Slated to become the next head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Specter publicly recommended to Pres. Bush (after his re-election) that he choose his judicial nominees carefully, in light of possible filibustering on the part of democrats. Conservatives took this to mean that the pro-choice senator would vote against any judge who was pro-life; they responded by declaring him unsavory and unfit to head the committee.

The conservatives campaign against him has failed, and Specter seems to have won. But at what cost:
Specter had been meeting behind closed doors with members of the committee and with Republican leaders in an effort to allay concerns about whether he would support the president's nominees and make sure they get quick action in the Senate.

To gain the seat that he was next in line to win, Specter had to put his assurances to conservatives in writing and then read them aloud to the public.
While Specter hasn't come out against abortion, he has done something much worse in a way - he has repudiated his own principles. Specter, who is well known as a moderate republican for his pro-abortion stance, has made it clear that he is now no threat to the theocrats. Publicly recanting, Specter said:
I have not and would not use a litmus test to deny confirmation to pro-life nominees.

I have voted to confirm Chief Justice Rehnquist after he voted against Roe v. Wade. Similarly, I have voted to confirm pro-life nominees Justice Scalia, Justice O'Connor, Justice Kennedy. And I led the successful fight to confirm Justice Thomas, which almost cost me my Senate seat in 1992.
Specter's capitulation here is disgusting. Whether or not conservatives really have taken control of the Republican party remains to be seen; but the fact that they have scared Specter into appeasing the anti-abortionists is dismaying and worrisome. What is clear is that Specter's "victory" is pyrrhic; far from counteracting the religious right, he will now facilitate it's growth.
Friday, November 19, 2004
  It Only Counts If You Don't Abort It...
In light of Scott Peterson's recent double murder conviction (for killing his wife and their unborn fetus), I found the following story eerie in its logic. From the AP:
INDIO, Calif. - A teenager was convicted of attempted murder for shooting his pregnant girlfriend at the clinic where she went to get an abortion.

Jeffrey Cameron Fitzhenry, 17, was convicted Wednesday. The shooting April 29 left the 16-year-old girl a quadriplegic, and the fetus was declared dead three days afterward.

The victim, identified only as Sara S., testified Fitzhenry repeatedly threatened her, saying that she was "depriving him of his unborn child." When she entered the clinic, Fitzhenry followed her, argued with her, and shot her in the neck, she said.

Defense attorney Robert Dunn argued that only a lesser charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter should be considered. He said Fitzhenry shot the girl after a "continuous escalation" of anger and he did not plan to kill her.

The jury also found Fitzhenry guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and enhancements that make him subject to a sentence of life in prison. A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 6.

Prosecutors did not seek a separate murder charge for the fetus because of the girl's decision to have an abortion, according to Robert Blythe, an attorney handling the girl's lawsuit against Fitzhenry.
Ok, let me see if I follow. Since the mother was going to murder the fetus anyways, it doesn't count when the father tries to murder her and succeeds in murdering the fetus. Does that mean that if you're going to kill someone, and I kill him before you do, that I'm not guilty of murder because you were going to do it anyways?
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
  Of Cultural Exchanges
Apparently Cuba is not the island paradise the press always presents. From the L.A. Times:
After weeks of speculation about a group defection, 43 members of a Cuban musical revue filed petitions for political asylum Monday in Las Vegas, where they have been performing since August.
Troupe leaders said that seven other members of "Havana Night Club — The Show," who had traveled to Germany, also were planning to seek asylum in the U.S., bringing the total to 50 dancers, singers, musicians and staff.

Knowledgeable observers said they believed that would be the largest such defection of Cuban artists to date.

Nicole Durr, the group's German-born founder and director, said the artists were forced to take the step, leaving most of their relatives back home, because they faced an uncertain future if they returned to Cuba, where the government controls most artistic endeavors.
Not everyone approves of this "defection", however:
San Francisco lawyer Bill Martinez, a pioneer in negotiating Cuban cultural exchanges, said Monday that the mass defection proved that the troupe's affair was politically motivated and designed to embarrass the Castro regime and to spark dissension within the Cuban cultural community.

"It was obviously a game from the beginning," Martinez said. "It's a sad reflection of [U.S.] foreign policy when artists are manipulated to create instability, forcing them to renounce their own government to get a visa. Basically, it's cultural imperialism."
Ah, now I understand. Escaping from a dictatorship is just a game! And the US forced them to renounce Castro! It's a good thing for all those in Cuba that Castro's got them locked up tight - who knows what kinds of horrible things they'd be forced to endure if they came here (freedom, medical care, plentiful food, good housing, new automobiles, computers, air conditioning). Oh, the horror of it all!
  The Unknown Soldier
I first saw the "clip" of this video on The O'Reilly Factor last night. The AP reports:
The U.S. military is investigating the videotaped fatal shooting of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner by a U.S. Marine in a mosque in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, a Marine spokesman said.


On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner lying on the floor of the mosque. The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard.

The blacked out portion of the video tape, provided later to Associated Press Television News and other members of the network pool, showed the bullet striking the man in the upper body, possibly the head. His blood splatters on the wall behind him and his body goes limp.

Sites [from NBC] reported a Marine in the same unit had been killed just a day earlier when he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent.
It is shameful to see one of our soldiers, risking his life in Fallujah, being subject to such presumptuous scrutiny. This is all the more disgusting in light of the fact that the enemy our soldiers are facing have feigned death and feigned surrender, only to attack when our guard is down. The minute that such tactics are used against us, our policy should immediately be, "Shoot first, ask questions later."

In a wider context, this really amplifies my opinion that it was a waste time to "invade" Fallujah. We should have decimated it aerially, wiping out every living creature in the city. This would have saved the lives of the soldiers who are now dead, prevented the injuries to our wounded and prevented many of the "insurgents" from escaping. It also would have delivered a devastating message to the country, that no mercy would be shown to those who fight against the USA. Those who would initiate force against us, will find it reciprocated upon them a thousand-fold.

If we ever wish to be secure in the USA again, it will only happen when we proudly broadcast that message with both words and deeds.
  So That's How They Do It...
From the AFP:
Best-selling Australian author Colleen McCullough has backed the Pitcairn Islanders convicted recently of raping teenage girls, arguing they were merely following the customs of the island community, it was reported here.

McCullough, married to a man who like the Pitcairn islanders is descended from the Bounty mutineers, told the Sydney Morning Herald the Pitcairn islanders are as much Polynesian as anything else, adding: "It's Polynesian to break your girls in at 12."
This is one of the most disturbing things I've read in a long while; unfortunately, it didn't get any better:
"These are indigenous customs and should not be touched. These were the first people to inhabit Pitcairn Island and they are racially unique."

She described the prosecution of the men as hypocritical, saying: "Does anybody object when Muslims follow their customs?

"Nobody's afraid of 50 Polynesians, but they are very afraid of a million Muslims."
There's only one just solution - this woman should be turned over to these "islanders", to be used as they see fit.
  Gallery of Rogues
From the AFP:
Australia's Art Gallery of New South Wales has spent millions of dollars on its most expensive acquisition ever, an abstract by US artist Cy Twombly, which the gallery admitted looks like it could have been painted by a child.
Is it just me, or does "Cy Twombly" sound like it came right out of Atlas Shrugged or the Fountainhead? Must be a friend of Gus Webb's.

Here's the best part though, from the Museum's director:
"I know that some people will look at these pictures and say 'My six-year-old child could have done that'," Capon told AFP at the gallery in Sydney.

"But in a way that would be a strange kind of compliment because what these people are saying is that there is a directness and an honesty which the simple art of a child can convey with wisdom and still retain a sense of spontaneity.

"When you look at a picture like this and you see the textures and the lines and the instincts of it, it has a great sense of spontaneity about it, but the point about spontaneity in situations like this is that it is a very considered and measured spontaneity.

"I think that is where people can get misled about looking at something that's very simple, or seemingly simple, but behind that simplicity there's a wealth of insight.

"These particular pictures are rich with that sense of imagining more than one sees."

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