Monday, September 25, 2006

Words Have Meaning - What's Torture?

Words have meaning, or should have if we are to communicate.

Is torture defined by a clause in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions which prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment"? I would be humiliated if I was incarcerated. So should this be considered torture?

The FBI at Waco in the Clinton administration used sleep deprivation techniques. Was that torture?

The US Constitution’s 8th amendment has a much better definition of torture forbidding “cruel and unusual punishment”. Harsh interrogation and even “water boarding” is not torture. “Water boarding” does give a person the sensation of drowning (it is obviously “humiliating and degrading”), but it does not physically injure, maim, or kill a person. It is not unusual as a significant number of United States military personnel are subjected to this technique as a part of their training.

By the way, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions also forbids the “taking of hostages”.

I have a high regard for former Senator Bob Dole, but a person in the Army for a short period of time who then gets seriously injures is not a hero. A person who is courageous and kills the enemy, helping us achieve victory is a hero. We need more heros.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Barrel of Oil Goes from $77 Down to $60

I hope George Soros has been betting via hedge fund crude oil futures contracts on ever increasing oil prices. I hope he takes a big hit.

From the Wall Street Journal September 20, 2006:
"The price of oil has fallen sharply in the past few weeks. After settling in mid-July at more than $77 a barrel, the front-month crude contract has tumbled to near $60 a barrel, a dramatic decline."

Hugo Chavez, the True Voice of the Democratic Party

I thought Cindy Sheehan was the true voice of the Democratic Party, but now perhaps it’s Hugo Chavez. The President of Venezuela addressed the United Nations and said many things that progressives would agree with. Perhaps, he said it even better than Cindy Sheehan.

President Hugo Chavez Delivers Remarks at the U.N. General Assembly
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

His comments included:

- President George W. Bush is the devil
- Everyone should read the book "Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States” by Noam Chomsky
- Bush addressed the UN “ talking as if he owned the world”
- A psychiatrist should analyze Bush’s statements
- If made into a movie, the title should be "The Devil's Recipe."
- “the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.”
- “They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.”
- “Wherever he looks, he sees extremists.”
- “I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare because the rest of us are standing up, all those who are rising up against American imperialism”
- “The government of the United States doesn't want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.”

Anything here, a true Progressive would disagree with?

NATO Offensive Kills More Than 1000 Taliban Fighters

Washington Post Wednesday, September 20, 2006 article NATO Offensive Kills More Than 1,000 Taliban Fighters by William Branigin. It includes:

§ “NATO forces inflicted a "tactical defeat" on the resurgent Taliban movement in southern Afghanistan in an offensive that ended last weekend”
§ “around 1,000 Taliban fighters -- and possibly as many as 1,500 -- were killed in "Operation Medusa," a NATO offensive launched earlier this month against the radical Islamic militia west of Kandahar.”
§ “NATO, which sent 6,000 troops to set up a permanent presence in the region, was initially surprised by the level of violence in southern Afghanistan and by the Taliban's "change of tactics," the NATO commander said.”
§ “NATO currently has a little more than 20,000 troops in Afghanistan, and Jones is seeking up to 2,500 more to serve as a "tactical theater reserve battalion." He said Romania and Poland have agreed to provide fresh combat troops”

What Did Bush Tell the Nation About the War on Terror in 2001?

See Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal Best of the Web September 20, 2006

And excerpts from
President George W. Bush address to the nation September 20, 2001. What did he tell us? It included:

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been
rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe
movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. . . .

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. . . .

Americans are asking, why do they hate us?
They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed.
They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our
freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East.

They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life.
With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the
world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us because we stand in their
way. . . .

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat. Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Is the Democrats Big Issue Gas Prices?

Democratic leaders bemoan the unacceptably high prices of gasoline and the market manipulation by Big Oil. They are TV claiming if they are elected they will get gas prices down. This is pandering to voters who feel the economy is doing poorly cause they have to pay more to fill up the tank while the economy is actually doing great.

As an environmentalist, I have favorite higher gasoline prices for over twenty years. The Democratic leaders claim to be environmentalists, but unfortunately do not believe in the law of supply and demand. [Want to have some fun, ask that question to a liberal: “do you believe in the law of supply and demand?” and the typical response is akin to a deer staring into headlights.]

So does the law of supply and demand work? See Oil Slides Towards $66 article in MoneyNews, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006. It includes:

■ “Oil fell five-month lows Friday [September 8, 2006] …U.S. crude slipped $1.07 to settle at $66.25 a barrel.” “Oil in New York has fallen from a record high of $78.40 reached in July.”
■ "There's a lot of distillate and gasoline about, and crude supplies are ample."
■ “Prudhoe Bay may hit full capacity above 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) by end-October”
■ “U.S. inventory data showed fuel stocks in the world's top oil consumer were building up more quickly than analysts expected.”
■ “Gasoline inventories rose by 700,000 barrels to 206.9 million barrels, against analysts' forecasts for a decline.”

Laguna Beach Council Disclosure Reports Now Online

Too Much Money in Politics?

Well, many are concerned about big interests being able to exert undue influence in Laguna Beach and buy our town.
- City Council Candidates required by law to file California form 460 listing contributions and expenditures
- City failed repeated requests to put online
- Now available at

It’s very interesting reading.

When I reviewed Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson-Schneider’s legally required Campaign Disclosure form 460, I had some questions. Pearson for Council reported campaign contributions of $43,740 through June 30, 2006, and way before the normal campaigning period, expenditures of $29,777. So I went to Tuesday, September 5th City Council meeting and asked Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider questions. I received no answers so let me pose the questions again via this posting:

1) We once had a time when most Council candidates voluntarily agreed to limit their campaigns spending to $30,000. How can Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider justify voting to reduce the limit to $15,000 while told that would mean no candidates would sign the pledge, and then conduct such an extravagant campaign?
2) In the legally required Campaign Disclosure form Pearson for Council reported ten $500 expenditures totaling $5,000 apparently to be favorably listed on voter guide mailers. So my question is: if a citizen receives a Voter Guide recommending a vote for Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider, isn’t it actually a meaningless endorsement because it’s a direct result of her campaign making the $500 payment to the Guide?

Some of these guides listed in Pearson for Council form 460 as receiving $500 are:
· Official Law Enforcement Voter Guide
· Save Prop. 13 Voters Guide
· Voter Information Guide
· Official Non-Partisan Guide

I am awaiting answers, elaborating on the required campaign disclosure, from Councilwoman Pearson-Schneider.

For background, here a letter-to-the-editor I mailed in September 12, 2004. Note Councilwoman Pearson and Councilman Steve Dicterow joined Councilwoman Kinsman in the vote referred to in the letter:

“Dear Editor,

For quite a few years, most all candidates for Laguna Beach City Council signed a pledge and abided to a $30,000 voluntary limit on their campaign expenditures. Cheryl Kinsman was one of the few who refused to sign and abide by the voluntary limit.

For the 2000 campaign, Cheryl Kinsman reported campaign revenues of raised $53,896 including $20,000 from Kinsman herself. Including independent expenditures, a $14.06 per vote record was achieved. Being on the City Council, Councilwoman Mayor Kinsman voted on October 7, 2003 ”to lower the voluntary spending limitation for campaigns from $30,000 to $15,000” which passed with the minimum three votes.

Many concerned about campaign finance reform stated at that City Council meeting that such a reduction would eviscerate the provision and likely no serious candidate would be able to abide to such an artificially low and unrealistic limit.

Guess what? Previously almost all candidates signed the voluntary campaign limit pledge, and this year no candidate did. From almost all to zero!

Pretty clever of Councilwoman Kinsman. That is if the voters don’t mind City Council members using the power of their office for blatant political purposes.
Politicians should be held accountable.”

Friday, September 01, 2006

Correct Global Temperature Chart