Small Changes

Thanks to Russ, we now have a readable comment size. More changes in process.

*** Update ***

Now the pop-up comments box has been enlargened.

For those of you using Firefox and the comments are center aligned, right click while in the comments, click refresh, and it should fix it.

*** Update ***

The box for where you write your comments has now been increased.


Via Sullivan, this story:

A badly burned Palestinian woman was alternately defiant and tearful Monday after Israeli soldiers caught her trying to enter Israel with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body.
The woman, who suffered serious burns on her hands, feet and neck in a kitchen explosion five months ago, had been granted permission to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment when she raised the suspicion of soldiers at the Erez checkpoint.

Video released by the military showed 21-year-old Wafa al-Biss taking off articles of clothing on the orders of soldiers searching for explosives, and rubbing her disfigured neck with her burned hands and screaming.

The military said she tried to blow up the explosives Monday but failed and was not injured.

At the Shikma Prison in Israel’s Negev Desert, where the Shin Bet security service allowed Israeli TV reporters to interview her, al-Biss said she was determined to carry out a suicide attack against Israel because of its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

“My dream was to be a martyr,” she said, adding that she was recruited by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a violent offshoot of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement. “I believe in death.”

Words fail me.

Notables For Today

Today is the anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution, as well as the Summer Solstice.

Or, as I like to call it, the day before my birthday. I turn 35 tomorrow. Thirty-five going on 12, that is.

What I Thought as Well

When I read of the explosion that killed the anti-Syrian critic yesterday, I had the exact same reaction that Captain Ed did:

“The Syrians Send Another Message”

Coalition of the Still Willing

Great photo montage of all the troops from around the world who are serving in Iraq.

The photo of American troops includes a guy wearing the Blackhorse patch. Allons!

The Rev. Moon

Big American Prospect piece on the Rev. Moon, who, by any normal standards, is insane, and who is involved in a lot of shady dealings:

An American Prospect investigation reveals that The Washington Times offices, housed in an imposing building on a northeast Washington strip otherwise known for tire shops and fast-food joints, serve as the base of operations for Moons diplomatic missions to his homeland. Moreover, the paper itself has served as an instrument of Moons partnership with the communist regime. Throughout the 1990s, as Western observers predicted that the Kim dynasty that rules North Korea would collapse for lack of hard currency reserves, the Moon organization invested tens of millions of dollars, which apparently included payments made before U.S. sanctions eased in 1999.

The Japanese press has accused Moon of involvement in an arms deal that appears to have enhanced North Korean missile-tube research — a serious charge, considering recent fears about the advancement of North Koreas missile-range capabilities. Indeed, Moons connections with the Kim regime have long been a matter of active concern for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Yet Moon remains a Washington political powerhouse in his own right, a generous friend of the Bush family, and a patron of religious-right and other conservative causes. Now 85 years old, he oversees a secretive international empire of media, religious, real-estate, commercial, and industrial entities, as well as a shifting maze of front groups with far more names than leaders. Notable among these organizations is the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), which has an office in The Washington Times building — and has been repeatedly publicized in the newspapers pages.

Read the whole thing.

Marine Readiness

The Boston Globe has a troubling story about the overall state of Marine equipment readiness over the next few years, including this fabulous information:

Marine Corps units fighting in some of the most dangerous terrain in Iraq don’t have enough weapons, communications gear, or properly outfitted vehicles, according to an investigation by the Marine Corps’ inspector general provided to Congress yesterday.

The report, obtained by the Globe, says the estimated 30,000 Marines in Iraq need twice as many heavy machine guns, more fully protected armored vehicles, and more communications equipment to operate in a region the size of Utah.

The Marine Corps leadership has ”understated” the amount and types of ground equipment it needs, according to the investigation, concluding that all of its fighting units in Iraq ”require ground equipment that exceeds” their current supplies, ”particularly in mobility, engineering, communications, and heavy weapons.”

Complaints of equipment shortages in Iraq, including lack of adequate vehicle armor, have plagued the Pentagon for months, but most of the reported shortages have been found in the Army, which makes up the bulk of the American occupation force.

The analysis of the Marines’ battle readiness, however, shows that the Corps is lacking key equipment needed to stabilize Al Anbar province in western Iraq. The province is where some of the bloodiest fighting has occurred in recent months between American-led coalition forces and Iraqi insurgents aided by foreign fighters who have slipped across the border.

Not sure where to go with this other than to say that heavy machine guns should not be optional.

Where the hell is all the money going?

*** Update ***

Andrew Olmstead has some remarks that are tangentially related this issue but really deals with this post about body armor, addressing the difference between perceptions and reality. Always defer to your military superiors.

Today’s Victim

Cry me a river:

Director Steven Spielberg says the media “punished” Tom Cruise for the actor’s televised, soul-baring declaration of love for Katie Holmes.

But in an interview with Newsweek magazine released on Sunday the director downplayed speculation that the giddy public displays of affection by Cruise, 42, could damage Paramount Picture’s publicity for his upcoming summer release “War of the Worlds.”

The $135 million-spectacle, based on the science-fiction novel by H.G. Wells, opens June 29.

“I was a little upset. I was a little upset,” Spielberg told the magazine, referring to the attention generated by Cruise’s recent appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

“Not at Tom, but at the press for making such a big deal out of a kind of small thing. Tom lost his cool because he was deliriously happy, and now he was being punished for his public display of happiness,” Spielberg said.

He isn’t being punished for his behavior. He is being ridiculed.

The War on Christianity

Lots of oppressed Christians today, and here are some more:

An Indiana congressman accused Democrats of waging a “war on Christianity” Monday, as a debate over religious tolerance at the U.S. Air Force Academy erupted in shouts and finger-pointing.

Work in the House of Representatives ground to a halt for 30 tense minutes after Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., blasted Democrats for trying to use a $409 billion defense spending bill to take a stand against “coercive and abusive” proselytizing at the academy’s Colorado Springs, Colo., campus.

Academy officials have acknowledged dozens of complaints about incidents of religious intolerance in recent years, prompting an ongoing investigation. But Hostettler said legislation condemning the situation was part of a “long war on Christianity” being waged by “the usual suspects, Democrats.”

“Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can’t help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians,” Hostettler said.

Democrats burst to their feet, pointing and shouting.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc., demanded that Hostettler’s words be “taken down.” That’s a rare parliamentary sanction for a breach of decorum. Had it been approved by a House vote, it would have taken away Hostettler’s right to speak for the rest of the day.

Confused murmurs rumbled through the chamber, as Republicans huddled around a stoic Hostettler and Democrats rallied around Obey.

At one point, Rep. John “Jack” Murtha, D-Pa., wandered across the aisle, put his imposing, former Marine’s frame just behind the seated Hostettler and said that he goes to church as often as Hostettler does.

Pointing into Hostettler’s face, Murtha, a Vietnam veteran, kept repeating: “Ever been to combat? Ever been to combat?” Hostettler stayed seated and Murtha walked away scowling.

Pitiful, on all accounts. This is good, I suppose:

On a mostly party-line vote, the House rejected an amendment by Obey that would have strongly condemned “abusive religious proselytizing” and demanded that the academy submit plans to congress to fix the problems.

By a voice vote, they approved a compromise version by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., which strikes any condemnation of the academy but requires reports on the religious climate to be submitted to lawmakers. Final action is now pending in the U.S. Senate, where the provision might or might not survive.

I see no need to rebuke the ‘academy,’ but would appreciate them following up on the issue. At some point, Republicans are not going to get away with demonizing Democrats on this issue. I think that started today.

*** Update ***

Oh, good grief. Yes, Rep. Hostettler is the same guy we talked about the other day.

Serenity now.

Cross Posted at Red State

Cross posted at Red State is this summation of my thoughts on Dick Durbin, titled “Censure! Thank Goodness the Adults Are In Charge…”

OF course, some agree with me that Durbin should not be censured:

I called Senator Dick Durbin’s office this morning at (202) 224-2152 and, after being on hold for a while, laid out the reasons why I think Durbin should resign from the Senate. His staffer told me that as of this morning, he is standing by his statement comparing American soldiers to the Nazis, the Communists and the Khmer Rouge.

Deep thoughts from the blog of the year, for y’all.

Do Sean Hannity and guys like this know they are partisan hacks and they just don’t care, or do they think they are being fair and just calling things as they see them?

Now Damn It To Hell

Donald Rumsfeld was, in my opinion, right about his comments that you ‘go to war with the army you have,’ (despite the fact that it came across as callous and uncaring), because you don’t plan and engage in military operations based on the possibility of future weapons and equipment breakthroughs. If I had my way, we would have sent 100k M1A1’s in there- but that just wasn’t and isn’t a possibility, and infantrymen are vital to winning a war. But, if this shit is still going on, some damned heads need to roll:

John Tod of Mesa had been prepared to face Father’s Day worrying about his son’s pending date with the war in Iraq.

Then Uncle Sam stepped in with more disappointing developments.

Marine Pfc. Jeremy Tod called home with news that his superiors were urging him and fellow Marines to buy special military equipment, including flak jackets with armor plating, to enhance the prospects of their survival. advertisement

The message was that such purchases were to be made by Marines with their own money.

“He said they strongly suggested he get this equipment because when they get to Iraq they will wish they had,” Tod said.

Total estimated cost: $600.

Tod said his son’s call about two weeks ago from the Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma was a sobering reminder that the military is not prepared to equip Pfc. Tod and fellow Marines with the best equipment.

Besides the essential flak jacket with steel “trauma” plates, the shopping list for the young Marine included a Camelbak (water pouch) special ballistic goggles, knee and elbow pads, a “drop pouch” to hold ammunition magazines and a load-bearing vest.

Having just been burned by the Paynter story, I know how columnists fly fast and loose with the truth, but if this is truth, someone needs to have their ass handed to them on a damned platter. Donald Rumsfeld just had this to say:

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has admitted that Iraq is “statistically” no safer today than it was after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003.

Asked on BBC television whether Iraq was safer since the US-led invasion ended the rule of dictator Saddam Hussein, Mr Rumsfeld replied: “Well, statistically no.”

“But clearly it has been getting better as we’ve gone along,” he added.

“In other words, at the end of the war the army fled, was captured … and the country was defeated,” Mr Rumsfeld told veteran interviewer David Frost.

If it is statistically no safer, and if you look at this piece by Dean Esmay, we are experiencing an uptick in violence (and this trendline should not use the casulaties in major combat operations- only post-Saddam Iraq should be measured to get a real picture), then shouldn’t body armor be a priority?

Just so we are clear- those things represented in the trend-lines? Those are people. Our people. They should have the f-ing equipment they need. If this story is legit, we have failed our troops.

But hey- Gitmo makes us safer, right?

Andrew Olmstead addresses the issue, saying things aren’t what they seem. I defer to someone who is still in.

New Daou Report

The Daou Report has been re-vamped. Looks good.

I Must Have Angered Someone

Sometime in the past ten days, I must have pissed off the folks at the Huffington Post, because I must now suffer the humiliation of having been de-linked by Arianna and company.

I was there on the 17th, and then banished from the ranks of the exalted on the 18th. The shame.

However will I go on?

Homeland Insecurity

Good thing we are taking the war on terror so seriously:

Sixteen foreign-born construction workers with phony immigration documents were able to enter a nuclear weapons plant in eastern Tennessee because of lax security controls, a federal report said Monday.

Controls at the Y-12 weapons plant have since been tightened and there was no evidence the workers had access to any sensitive documents, said the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees nuclear weapons facilities for the Department of Energy.

However, the DOE inspector general’s office said in the report issued Monday that its field agents found “official use only” documents “lying unprotected in a construction trailer which was accessed by the foreign construction workers” at the plant.

“Thus, these individuals were afforded opportunities to access … (this) information,” the inspector general wrote. “We concluded that this situation represented a potentially serious access control and security problem.”

The report, initiated by a tip in 2004, said the workers had fake green cards that certified them to work in the United States. Their cases were turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for deportation.

It is hard to figure out exactly how many departments failed on this one, but we can throw in INS, DOE, and DOHS for starters. Maybe we should spend some more time selling “I Heart Gitmo” t-shirts because everyone knows that is the cure for terrorism. Not, you know, taking illegal immigration and the security of nuclear installations seriously.

The Fowl Smell of Texas Justice

Via TalkLeft, here is a Molly Ivins piece on what she believes is wrong with Texas justice, and I am not going to comment on what she believes is wrong- it is Molly, and you can read the piece and sort things out for yourself. However, she does have this up, which I had never heard before, and I was wondering if any of you had ever heard anything about it:

But in the small towns and rural areas where heavy crime is rare, a D.A. has to whup on whoever gets caught. Sometime in the ’80s, a guy in Lubbock stole 12 frozen turkeys. They were recovered, still frozen. Not only no damage, but no defrost. The guy bought 75 years, which works out to 6.3 years per bird. Don’t steal a turkey in Lubbock.

there has to be more to this story, and I believe the ‘three strikes and your out” phenomenon started in the 90’s. Anyone know anything about this?