The Washington Post has written an article about former President Jimmy Carter.

For an event that would turn a page in American history, former President Jimmy Carter has agreed in principle to host former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami for talks during his visit to the United States starting this week.

It is a standard practice of social etiquette to continue to refer to any former American President as President. It is a symbol of respect for the office and for the service rendered while in that office. And while I will often refer to someone by just their last name, I try not to do that for former Presidents, even impeached, cigar-hiding Presidents.

President Carter isn’t a formal part of our government system anymore, but he is still afforded respect for his service. So I am dismayed to read in the Washington Post that he is willing (and probably eager) to deal with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami because this appears to skirt dangerously close to breaking the Logan Act.

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

Yes, President Carter is not meeting with a formal member of the Iranian government, but just as President Carter retains a semblance of government involvement, so does former Iranian president Khatami. If President Carter has the intent to ” influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government ” or “defeat the measures of the United States” then he is guilty of violating the Logan Act.

If I were President Bush, I’d send President Carter a little note telling him to stop mucking with the government’s workings with other countries, a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” sort of note to basically tell him to shut the @#$% up and go back to his peanut farm or house building. Yes, that’s a tad harsh, but when people refuse to get the message, you sometimes have to be blunt.

The photo fraud from Reuters has inspired bloggers to create a word to succinctly describe media manipulation of images: fauxtography. This word was likely coined by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, who broke the story of the “Reutered” photo in the first place.

Into this fray of photos comes blogger Zombie, that brave woman who visits more left-wing rallies and demonstrations than I could ever stomach. Zombie has written an excellent article listing the four categories of Reuters’ fraud. Not content to rest on her laurels, she proceeded to create a Pulitzer-worthy analysis of the damaged Lebanese ambulance so readily pounced on by the major media. She spends time examining and debunking each claim put forth by the media about this event. Here are those claims in a nutshell:

Claim #1: An Israeli missile pierced the exact center of the red cross on the roof of the ambulance.
Claim #2: The attack happened on July 23, 2006.
Claim #3: There was a huge explosion inside the ambulance.
Claim #4: There was an intense fire inside the ambulance.
Claim #5: A man lying on a gurney inside the ambulance had his leg sheared off by the missile.
Claim #6: You’re analyzing the wrong ambulance, you idiot.
Claim #7: The ambulance driver who reported the incident was injured in the attack.
Claim #8: The Lebanese ambulance drivers are politically neutral and would have no motivation to lie.

Read the whole thing with the photos and analysis. Zombie even takes the time to respond to rebuttals to her analyses. When was the last time you saw that on the nightly news? If you can’t be bothered to read her admittedly long article, you should at least spend ten minutes watching Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air episode, which reviews the terrorists’ use of ambulances.

Can we trust the media any more? These days it appears more and more that we cannot.

Today is the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting Louisiana and Mississippi. I predict you will see lots of video montages of the disaster, and certain people will use it as a chance to castigate President Bush by name and FEMA in general as not doing enough for the victims. And I’m sure many more round-ups of Katrina will appear this week. But I’m not going to focus on that. Instead, I’m going to focus on hysteria — specifically, the hysteria surrounding global warming.

We can expect blow-hards like former Vice President Al Gore to fan the flames of hysteria over global warming with the alarming tripe of An Inconvenient Truth. And Gore spends plenty of time hyping the hurricanes of 2005. Even National Geographic is pondering global warming with articles like “Is Global Warming Making Hurricanes Worse?” You could have made that case last year with the number of named storms in the Atlantic, but if we are in a crisis of global warming, and global warming makes worse hurricanes, then riddle me this: what’s up with this year’s hurricanes?

On this day in 2005, Katrina pounded the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. As a named storm beginning with the letter K, it was the 11th storm of the season big enough to warrant a name. Today we are worried about Ernesto hitting Florida; as the E name indicates, Ernesto is the 6th named storm for 2006. Let’s see, if I do the math right here… carry the two… adjust for pi… round up… round down… hide the remainder… it appears that we’ve had about half the storm activity this year as we did last season. Did global warming give up this year? Hah! Like you’d ever hear that from a global warming activist. No, you’ll hear the activists say global warming is the cause for this year’s fewer hurricanes in the same way that global warming was the cause for last year’s high number of hurricanes. I wrote how global warming activists will accept pretty much any weather as proof of global warming:

But global warming does seem to be a great catch-all explanation. If it’s rainy, it’s global warming. If it’s dry, it’s global warming. At the height of summer, you’ll hear reporters and politicians bemoaning global warming. But just as many will cry and wring their hands over global warming in the middle of winter. Some goofs even had the bright idea to hold a global warming conference in Montreal in the middle of freakin’ winter.

I believe hurricanes are created by a multitude of interacting environmental factors, and not by one environmental blowhard global warming source.

Tim Worstall over at TSC Daily posted a very interesting article today dealing with prosperity — namely, how our American prosperity stacks up to that of other European countries. Since this article deals with economics, and since I know some of you break out in hives at the mere mention of economics, I have a cute Easter Ferret for your viewing pleasure. Feel free to skip the rest of this post.

Worstall’s article is titled, “America: More Like Sweden Than You Thought,” and it is an interesting read for an economic article. He begins by discussing a, uh, “fun” economic paper which he recently read that extols the virtues of Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries. He writes:

I will admit that I do find it odd the way that only certain parts of the, say, Swedish, “miracle” are held up as ideas for us to copy. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we were urged to adopt some other Swedish policies? Abolish inheritance tax (Sweden doesn’t have one), have a pure voucher scheme to pay for the education system (as Sweden does), do not have a national minimum wage (as Sweden does not) and most certainly do not run the health system as a national monolith (as Sweden again does not). But then those policies don’t accord with the liberal and progressive ideas in the USA so perhaps their being glossed over is understandable, eh?

As part of their propagandizing, they produce the above cited reports each year. And this time it’s being released chapter by chapter in the lead up to Labor Day. I can tell you that policy wonks are breathless with anticipation waiting for each part as it comes out (I myself was most excited to get chapter 8 linked above). For there is the great joy of seeing that what they think they’re telling us isn’t, in fact, quite what they are telling us.

People with an agenda? Say it ain’t so! While there is some very good news pointed out in the article that Worstall analyzes, there is also a very telling graph.

Purchasing Power Parity

This graph is based off the Purchasing Power Parity, a means of calculating the diverse prices and salaries of all these nations in a way that makes them roughly comparable. What the writers of the article want you to notice first is that seemingly huge gap between the rich and poor in the United States. But my wife didn’t see that when I showed her the graph. Instead she noticed right away that the top 10% of wage earners in Finland and Sweden only make 111% and 113% of the median income, respectively. She noticed this because her Great-Uncle Kurt, who lives in Sweden and worked for an international insurance company for many years, had 90% of his income taxed away to support other able-bodied Swedes who simply chose not to work. And this is something we should emulate? I don’t think so! Worstall wraps up his column by analyzing the left side of the graph.

In the USA the poor get 39% of the US median income and in Finland (and Sweden) the poor get 38% of the US median income. It’s not worth quibbling over 1% so let’s take it as read that the poor in America have exactly the same standard of living as the poor in Finland (and Sweden). Which is really a rather revealing number don’t you think? All those punitive tax rates, all that redistribution, that blessed egalitarianism, the flatter distribution of income, leads to a change in the living standards of the poor of precisely … nothing.

Such may lead us to a conclusion that the EPI probably wouldn’t like:

If we accept (as I do) that we do, indeed, need to have a social safety net, and that we have a duty to provide for those incapable or unlucky enough to be unable to do so for themselves, we need to set some level at which such help is offered. The standard of living of the poor in a redistributionist paradise like Finland (or Sweden) seems a fair enough number to use and the USA provides exactly that. Good, the problem’s solved. We’ve provided — both through the structure of the economy and the various forms of taxation and benefits precisely what we should be — an acceptable baseline income for the poor. No further redistribution is necessary and we can carry on with the current tax rates and policies which seem, as this report shows, to be increasing US incomes faster than those in other countries and boosting productivity faster as well.

As I said above I’m sure this isn’t quite what the EPI actually wanted to tell us. But there it is, from their own report. Which is why I rather enjoy my working life — sad case that I am — because I get to read all those reports that really don’t tell us what the authors think they are telling us.

Go read the whole thing. And the next time someone tells you we should be more like Europe, you can point out to them that we care for our poor and downtrodden masses just as effectively as they do, and we don’t have to tax ourselves into an economic slump to do it. No nation has ever taxed itself into prosperity. If they can’t accept that truth, it’s probably a lost cause. Just have them check out the cute Easter Ferret instead.

OK, time for a little humor at Iran’s expense. Iranian President Ahmadinejad says that their quest for nuclear power is completely peaceful (yeah, right), so I love this fake news story by Scrappleface:

(2006-08-26) — Just hours after Iran opened a new plant capable of making plutonium “for peaceful purposes”, U.S. President George Bush assured his Iranian counterpart that any B-2 bombers that appear over Tehran in the near future would also serve peaceful purposes.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut the ribbon on the new heavy-water nuclear plant Saturday as part of a month-long Iranian tribute to the effectiveness of the United Nations.

Mr. Bush hailed Iran’s “transparent diplomacy” and said, “I called President Ahmadinejad today to congratulate him, and I told him that if he happens to notice one of them Stealth bombers going over his town at about 600 miles per hour, he can be assured that the pilot has only the best intentions in his heart for world peace.”

“There’s nothing like the B-2 when it comes to giving peace a chance,” Mr. Bush added.

Now compare that fictitious hard-line stance by President Bush with the fictitious response by a President Kerry as envisioned by Chris Muir of the “Day by Day” comic. (Internet protocol says I can’t just post Muir’s comic here unless I get permission, hence the link.)

“Day by Day” comic of August 27th, 2006

UPDATE (8/28/2006 11:20:52 AM): Chris Muir granted me permission to post his “Day by Day” comics here, so here is the Sunday comic in question. And spend some time reading the rest of “Day by Day”.

Day by Day

While some people recognize that we are at war with radical Islam, too many liberals would rather attack President Bush and his supporters than seriously acknowledge that we are at war. And as wars go, this has been a remarkably bloodless one.

“How can you say that, Captain?” Easy. Consider that, since we were hit in 2001, we have lost very few civilians and military personnel. Yes, every loss is a tragedy, but when you consider that the U.S. suffered 6,821 fatalities while fighting to capture the eight square miles of Iwo Jima alone, the losses we have suffered from 9/11 and liberating Afghanistan and Iraq hardly measure up to that level of bloodshed.

This is almost like the Phony War period between Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 and its subsequent invasion of the Benelux countries in May 1940. War had been declared in 1939, but Great Britain didn’t enter into the fight until the summer of 1940 when the Battle of Britain was fought.

I believe we are currently in a lull of the battle against radical Islam, much as Britain found itself during the Phony War. We have been largely successful in keeping the fighting out of our nation since 2001, but at some point the murderous nutjobs will succeed in bringing the fight back to our shores. When–not if–this happens, I see the nation going in one of three directions:

– We give up. While I personally have no intention of bowing to Mecca, it is possible that a sufficiently vicious attack could break the will of the nation at large, and collectively we might give up and give in. People who call for “peace at any cost” are particularly susceptible to this possible outcome.

– The nation continues with a ho-hum reaction. People who refuse to accept the reality that we are at war are solidly in this camp. And unless the attack hits close to home, they may remain in this state of complacency. Is “Lost” on yet?

– The nation really goes to war. The scenes of death and destruction on our soil stiffen the collective spine and resolve of the nation, and we determine to fight. Not in the wimpy, half-hearted manner we are doing it now–the whole-hog, can-do resolve of our citizens seen during World War II could once again ripple through the people when we realize we must and will crush this viper’s head of hate.

When that attack comes, I sincerely hope the nation chooses to stand up and fight. Because when we achieve complete victory over those who hate us and want us destroyed, only then will there be peace.

Imagine a call dispatched to the police officers in town:

“Attention all cars. Be on the lookout for a suspect in the Green Hills robbery. Surveillance tapes shows the suspect to be a bald white male between the ages of 18 and 35, about 5’6″ in height, and around 140 pounds. Last seen headed south on Main Street in a white Ford Bronco. Suspect is armed and considered dangerous. Proceed with caution.”

Now imagine the same dispatched call in a world more concerned with feelings than with catching the bad guys:

“Attention all cars. Be on the lookout for a suspect in the Green Hills robbery. Surveillance tapes shows the suspect, but because of a recent ACLU case, we are unable to release a description of the suspected perpetrator. Suspect was last seen on Main Street. Stop and question every car going north or south on Main Street, being sure to submit randomly selected cars to additional searches and dog sniffing. We are unable to state whether the suspect is armed and considered dangerous. Proceed as if everything were normal.”

Sounds pretty silly, no? Well, it’s closer to being reality than you may think. We live in a world where Islamic nutjobs have declared war against the West and happily chant “Death to America!” But we can’t acknowledge who our enemies are. It is silly to carefully search little old grannies, former Vice Presidents, and current Senators and think we are doing a good job at stopping the madmen. We know who they are. Robert Poole has written what we need to do. Here’s just one paragraph from a long and very worthwhile article:

We don’t need to ban water from planes; we need to keep terrorists off them. To most effectively do so, we need to get over our obsession with “bad” things (laptops, lighters, bottled water) and start looking for bad people.

We know who the dangerous people are, so it makes more sense to focus our attention on the people who wish us harm over innocent people like little old grannies, former Vice Presidents, and current Senators. The ACLU whines about violating people’s civil rights if they are profiled. I don’t call it profiling; I call it a “description of the perpetrator.”

Cox and Forkum have boiled this down in a recent cartoon.

Profiled

My mom once illustrated the futility of relying on mere words to raise kids. A woman once visited the house with her little kid in tow. Being a 2- or 3-year-old tyke, he was all over the place and into everything. The mother, when she responded to his actions, would tell the little hellion to stop what he was doing with a very gentle “No, no, no.” The tiny terror had long since developed mommy deafness and kept on doing whatever he wanted. Since what he wanted was to tear the leaves off my mom’s plant, the mere use of words to stop him would have resulted in naked stems. Mom finally intervened by physically removing the tot from the wounded plant.

Words were obviously of no use when dealing with a kid with such an advanced case of mommy deafness. Only through physical intervention was disaster averted. He was a spoiled brat, and it was way past time that he be spanked. Nations can act like spoiled brats, too. Iraq was gassing its people and neighbors, sponsoring terrorism, and invading other nations. The “adults” of the world in the U. N. Security Council spent years saying “No, no, no” to Iraq, but the words of their resolutions had no more effect on that brat of a nation than did the milksop mutterings of that mild mother. It took physical intervention to stop the Iraqi brat.

Do you think the need for action and not talk would have taught the nations of the U. N. Security Council a lesson? Ha, fat chance! The Security Council has shown that it is just as willing to rely on meaningless and ineffectual mutterings of “No, no, no” to the brats who are hell-bent to rip the leaves off plants as it ever has been. Iran is rushing towards developing nuclear weapons, and the U. N. talks and threatens to talk some more.

And talk is all we will get out of the U. N. Security Council as long as Russia and China are more willing to take Iranian money than they are willing to create peace. With their veto on any meaningful action, the U. N. is limited to the political equivalent of shaking a finger and saying, “Now, Junior, we don’t want to mess up the nice lady’s plant, do we? You’d better stop now. Don’t make me say ‘No, no, no” at you again.”

I assure you that what Mr. Praline said about his parrot does not apply to me:

‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

I know that it doesn’t apply to me because I am neither a parrot nor dead, but the Monty Python sketch of the dead parrot is one of my favorites. The other is the Cheese Shop sketch. In fact I have it playing on DVD at this moment.

I’m in a Monty Python mood because I have been fighting spam on my mail server. I’m not talking about the potted meat from Hormel, but the pointless emails that come flooding into email inboxes the world around, promising porn, enlarged penises, stock tips, and other assorted annoying offers.

I noticed that a fairly decent amount of spam was being sent to my Captain’s Comments account and being killed before it reached me. I have had my email listed at the bottom of each post since the site began, but I’ve decided to make a change. I set up a tiny javascript that would fill out the email address, so people can still click on my email tag below, but automated email harvesters wouldn’t get it. That’s the hope, anyway. I also changed the email address associated with this site. Now I can auto-delete anything coming to the old address, since I can safely assume it is all spam. I’m curious to see how long it will take before spammers figure out my new address and start passing it around to each other.

If you are a glutton for punishment, you can read other posts I’ve written about spam here. I have to wonder if spammers ever open up their email program, look at all the Viagra and stock offers and wonder to themselves, “What’s with all this crap?”

In the interest of full (or at least partial) disclosure, I must here state that I work at a large software company, specifically with an anti-spam product.

Well, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1701 calling for a ceasefire between Israel and the terrorist thugs of Hezbollah. Cue the news media’s orgasmic paroxysms of joy. Peace! Finally, we have peace for our time! Release the white doves and put flowers in the rifle barrels. Peace! We finally have peace!

Yeah, right.

The problem is that Lebanon’s army can’t force Hezbollah to disarm. Here is the news as reported in The Australian News site:

IT was supposed to be the day the maligned Lebanese army took control of the country’s borders and policed the UN ceasefire.

Instead, the military commanders were left humiliated and troops stranded as Hezbollah told them not to disarm its fighters.

The first infantry units were preparing to head south when Hezbollah showed who controls the area by announcing it would not surrender its weapons.

General Michel Sleiman, commander-in-chief of the Lebanese army, and his lieutenants had been invited to join cabinet meetings to finalise plans to deploy the 15,000-strong force south of the Litani River.

But they were lectured by Hezbollah’s two ministers in the coalition Government on what the army could and could not do.

What a surprise! Hezbollah appears to have its own agenda and doesn’t want to kowtow to the Lebanese government. This is something that Orson Scott Card wrote about back on July 16, 2006, before Israel launched its land campain:

If Israel sends its troops into southern Lebanon, you can be sure that it will be condemned as a violation of “Lebanese sovereignty.”

What Lebanese sovereignty?

Either the Lebanese government controls southern Lebanon or it doesn’t.

If it is sovereign Lebanese territory, then Lebanon as an entirety is responsible for the terror missile attacks launched against Israeli civilians by the Hezbollah forces that openly rule there. Therefore, Lebanon has committed acts of war against Israel, and Israel is perfectly justified in any military action it takes against the entirety of Lebanon.

But if the Lebanese government declares that it is not responsible for missiles launched from that region of their nominal territory, then by that admission they confess that it is hot territory for which the Lebanese government claims responsibility. In which case, Hezbollah is the ruler of that territory (which it is), and Israel, regardless of lines on a map, has a right to invade Hezbollah territory and destroy the capacity of that enemy to make war against them.

It appears that the Lebanese government doesn’t control southern Lebanon after all. Are you really surprised?

UPDATE (8/14/2006 4:39:48 PM): Looks like the dynamic duo of Cox and Forkum have identified this same problem:

Disarmed?