I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that speaks volumes in just three lines. The problem is that one word turns the whole bumper sticker into a pile of peacenik propaganda and not something I could support. Here’s a quick HTML rendition of the bumper sticker:

HONOR THE DEAD
HEAL THE WOUNDED
END THE WAR

I certainly believe in honoring our dead, particularly our military dead. As our national anthem says, they stood “Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.” And we are forever in their debt for their ultimate sacrifice. I certainly cannot argue with the call to honor our dead.

And I certainly believe in healing our wounded. Since our military men and women have placed themselves in harm’s way for us, we as a nation have the responsibility to heal them when they are wounded. Shoddy care for our wounded is a stain on our nation’s honor, and it is a stain on our government’s honor, both on the elected representatives and the faceless bureaucrats who manage our military’s care centers. And it is not acceptable. If I were President, I would submit a budget to Congress that placed a higher priority on taking care of the health of our military.

But it is the last sentence that twists the previous valid statements into craptastic peacenik propaganda. Notice that it says “END the war,” not “WIN the war.” It’s a trivial task to end any war if you’re willing to run away from the fight. If we were to run away from Iraq, *poof* the war would be over, and these useful idiots could link their arms and sing “Kumbaya” in onanistic joy.

Morons.

Contrary to what the bumpersticker crowd would have you believe, merely ending the war will not result in lasting peace. Only winning a war results in peace. I explained how this works a year ago:

Peace comes through winning the war and making the loser beg to sit at the negotiation table. Peace does not come from going to the negotiation table and signing some documents, unless the war has already been fought and won. Don’t believe me? In an attempt to appease the Germans, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sat down at the negotiation table with Hitler, but there was no peace. Germany annexed the Sudetenland that same year, invaded Poland the next, and invaded the rest of Europe by 1940. That was no peace. But after Japan signed the terms of surrender on the USS Missouri, there was peace between the U.S. and Japan for more than 60 years.

I’ll take real and lasting peace through victory any time.

I want peace. Peace is preferable to war, but as long as there are zealous Islamic nutjobs willing to kill men, women, and children to further their goals of a world-wide Islamic state, we will not have peace. We may have brief lulls between fighting, but we will not have peace.

While I don’t put bumper stickers on my car, and I doubt I ever will, the following is a bumper sticker that I could agree with 100%:

HONOR THE DEAD
HEAL THE WOUNDED
WIN THE WAR

Ivan Pavlov trained some dogs to look for food by ringing a bell, blowing whistles, and other actions. The dogs got so used to food being served at Pavlov’s signal that they would start to salivate as soon as the signal happened. They had been well trained.

And the western media has also been well trained, but not to drool at the ring of a bell. Instead, the media has been trained to not give offense to brittle Islam. And the media has been so well trained to not give offense that they will silence themselves preemptively. The latest example of the media kowtowing to radial and brittle Islam comes at the expense of Berkeley Breathed and his Sunday cartoon, “Opus.” FoxNews describes the situation in an article posted August 27th, 2007.

A popular comic strip that poked fun at the Rev. Jerry Falwell without incident one week ago was deemed too controversial to run over the weekend because this time it took a humorous swipe at Muslim fundamentalists.

The Washington Post and several other newspapers around the country did not run Sunday’s installment of Berkeley Breathed’s “Opus,” in which the spiritual fad-seeking character Lola Granola appears in a headscarf and explains to her boyfriend, Steve, why she wants to become a radical Islamist.

The installment did not appear in the Post’s print version, but it ran on WashingtonPost.com and Salon.com. The same will hold true for the upcoming Sept. 2 strip, which is a continuation of the plotline.

Breathed managed to show the difference between the media’s response to Christians and Muslims in a 7 day period. His cartoon making fun of now-dead Rev. Falwell ran without riot, but the cartoon poking fun of radical Islam scheduled for that next Sunday caused the salivating media to pull the cartoon and preemptively apologize.

Way to assert your freedom of speech, guys!

In other news about brittle Islam, the U.S. military apologized for distributing soccer balls with the flags from many nations on them. And why did they need to apologize? They made the horrible mistake of including Saudi Arabia’s flag and its inscription of the name of Allah. Oh, the horror! Michelle Malkin calls Islam the Religion of Perpetual Outrage, and for good reason.

As we’ve learned from Rushdie Rage, MoCartoon Rage, Burger King Ice Cream Cone Rage, Koran Flushing Rage, Valentine’s Day Rage, Veil Rage, Pope Rage, Fallaci Rage, Miss World Pageant Rage, and Rushdie Knighthood Rage, they’re pretty damned “sensitive” (read: ready to riot) about everything.

Many people say Islam is the “Religion of Peace,” but I can’t help but believe it is the “Religion of Pissed.”

UPDATE (8/30/2007 11:48:48 AM): Hehehe. Cox and Forkum do an excellent job with a cartoon they title “Opus Akbar.”

Opus Akbar

There is a whiteboard in my breakroom at work, and people are always using it to pose interesting questions or start silly discussions. Normally these run about a week with lots of people plugging in their two cents. Last week the discussion was “Puppies vs. Kittens.” It’s hard to say which was the definitive winner in that debate because someone introduced the wild card of Bunnies.

This week, the question was “When did you get your first computer, and what was it?” My favorite reply was “1971 – Born with one in my head.” While that is interesting, I loved the response: “I had one of those, but it had trouble coming out of sleep mode.”

“Had”?

My first introduction to computers came in 1975 or 1976. The computer in question was a large mainframe computer residing in an even larger enclosure at Minot Air Force Base. We could access this mainframe with a modem that Dad would bring home every so often. We’d dial the number, hear the tone, then place the headset on the modem. Since it didn’t have a screen, it used a built-in printer and a roll of paper. And since we were kids, we loved to play a Star Trek game on it. I remember once visiting the mainframe room, and I watched one of the technicians play chess with the computer. He knew a set of moves that would allow him to capture the computer’s queen in under 15 moves, at which point the computer would quit the game.

It wasn’t until I got married that I had a computer I could claim I owned — well, owned by marriage. I told my wife that I was marrying her for her SoundBlaster card. [Such is the modern dowry. --TPK] Even if we still had that computer, there’s not much we could do now with a 386 motherboard and 4 MB of RAM.

Now to figure out the next question to pose on the breakroom whiteboard.

Apparently Elvira Arellano has kept busy after being deported for breaking U.S. laws multiple times. USA Today quotes Arellano:

“For me it is very important that our government take a strong stand to defend all of us who decide to migrate to another country,” she said.

I could agree with this statement 100% if it had one extra word: “who decide to legally migrate to another country.” Omitting that one word makes a critical difference, since a government is to protect the legitimate and legal actions of the people.

But omitting the fact that she broke the law multiple times, Arellano is now trying to excuse her actions by telling people that the United States broke the law first.

“The United States is the one who broke the law first. By letting people cross over without documents. By letting people pay taxes.”

Ah. Let’s examine this logic. So if there isn’t a guard stationed at the back door of a bank, then it’s the bank’s fault, not the robber’s, that he broke through the door and got into the vault. One word summarizes this logic: mierda. While I certainly agree that the U.S. should do much more to lock down our borders, an unguarded border does not grant permission to people to pass over unlawfully.

As for paying taxes, it can certainly feel like a crime at times, but Arellano has it exactly backwards. Not paying taxes is breaking the law. If you work in the U.S., legally or not, the government wants and demands its take from your wages. Paying your taxes does not grant you any legitimacy if you broke the law getting here. And don’t forget that Arellano was arrested for using a Social Security number that was not her own. So how can Arellano say that the U.S. broke the law first, when it was she who stole a Social Security number first?

Frankly, I don’t accept the “they did it first” argument when it comes to breaking the law. Someone else breaking the law doesn’t grant you permission to break the law yourself. In any case, I don’t accept Arellano’s premise that it is the U.S. who broke the law first. But I suspect Arellano will continue with this nonsense claim in her attempt to play the victim card. And yet I find it ironic that Arellano went to the Mexican Senate to plead her case when Mexico’s immigration laws are harsher than ours, and they have their own problems on their southern border.

There is big news in the arena of illegal immigrants. Elvira Arellano, an illegal alien and vocal advocate for illegal immigration, was arrested and deported from the U.S. The article I read bore the title, “Immigration activist deported to Mexico,” but it could have read “Law-breaking illegal alien deported to Mexico” and would have been just as correct and valid. Here is the first part of the article about Arellano:

An illegal immigrant who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year to avoid being separated from her U.S.-born son has been deported to Mexico, the church’s pastor said.

Elvira Arellano became an activist and a national symbol for illegal immigrant parents as she defied her deportation order and spoke out from her religious sanctuary. She held a news conference last week to announce that she would finally leave the church to try to lobby U.S. lawmakers for change.

She had just spoken at a Los Angeles rally when she was arrested Sunday outside Our Lady Queen of Angels church and deported, said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano had been living.

“She has been deported. She is free and in Tijuana,” said Coleman, who said he spoke to her on the phone. “She is in good spirits. She is ready to continue the struggle against the separation of families from the other side of the border.”

Her 8-year-old son, Saul, is now living with Coleman’s family. During a news conference in Los Angeles after Arellano’s arrest, the boy hid behind the pastor’s wife and wiped away tears.

Arellano first entered the U.S. illegally in 1997, and was deported when caught. She returned shortly after that, again illegally. In 2002, she was arrested and convicted of working under a falsified Social Security number. Instead of being deported on the spot, she was part of the “catch and release” idiocy that our immigration officers work under. She was to surrender to the authorities in August 2006, but instead she fled to a church in Chicago and requested sanctuary. She then spent a year living in the church, but was arrested and deported when she left her sanctuary to attend a rally for illegal aliens in Los Angeles. This act has enraged the supporters of illegal aliens:

“We are sad, but at the same time we are angry,” said Javier Rodriguez, a Chicago immigration activist who worked with Arellano. “How dare they arrest this woman?”

How dare they? Well, how dare she break the law at least thrice — twice crossing the border into the U.S. illegally, and using a Social Security number that was not her own illegally? I have no idea how many other laws Arellano may have broken during her illegal stay here in the U.S.

“But Captain, how can you separate a child from his mother?” But I didn’t separate her from her son, Saul — she did. When people choose to commit crimes, they accept the consequences of their lawless actions. If Arellano didn’t want to be separated from her son, she shouldn’t have broken the law. The same separation occurs when people are imprisoned for breaking the law. It was their choice to break the law that separated them from their families. But Arellano doesn’t have to be separated from Saul — he can join her in Mexico whenever she wants.

“But her son was born here! He is a U.S. citizen!” Well, he will remain an American citizen even if he lives in Mexico with his mother. If he chooses to return to the U.S. as an adult, that is certainly his right.

Lest we forget, consider the well-publicized case of Elian Gonzalez, whose mother died trying to bring him to the United States, whose extended family were working to make him a legal resident, and who was forcibly deported to Cuba. Under then-President Clinton, the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government deemed it more important for Elian to live with his father in the hell-hole that is Castro’s Cuba than to stay with relatives in the U.S. In all fairness, Elian was not born in the U.S. and thus did not enjoy the same rights as a native-born American–but then again, Mexico isn’t half the hell-hole that Cuba is.

“Anchor babies” is the term used to describe children like Saul who are born in the U.S. to illegal alien parent(s). These anchor babies are used as an excuse to allow their illegal alien parent(s) to stay in the U.S. But are children of illegal aliens automatically U.S. citizens as soon as Mom gives birth a few feet over the border? What exactly is the law that makes any child born in the U.S. a de facto American?

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution explains what makes a citizen: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

There is a key part of that sentence, and it is “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” This means that the children born of people who legally enter the U.S. and are subject to the jurisdiction of these United States are citizens. As I read it, the children of illegal aliens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. (the whole sneaking in bit) and thus are not born U.S. citizens. Here is what Rep. John A. Bingham, the author of the 14th Amendment, said regarding the first sentence:

“I find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.”

Illegal aliens who sneak across the U.S. border and have babies on U.S. soil still owe allegiance to their native land. (Indeed, if the evidence is to be believed, many illegal aliens consider themselves loyal citizens of the nations they left. This becomes painfully visible during illegal alien rallies, where one is far more likely to see flags of other nations on display than one is to see the American flag in evidence.) They have not petitioned the U.S. for entry, nor have they begun the process of becoming Americans by renouncing their former citizenship. They are therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., since they have flouted America’s laws upon entry.

It might be worthwhile for the U.S. immigration officials to give illegal alien parents a choice when they are deported: take your American-born children with you, or leave them in the care of a guardian who is a fully legal American citizen (born or naturalized). Let these parents decide where their true loyalties lie.

(One of the best analyses I’ve read of the 14th Amendment, as it relates to citizenship, can be found at The Federalist Blog. The article clocks in at over two thousand words, but it is well worth the time to read it.)

I have been playing the very fun Lord of the Rings Online game for months now, and I figured I should show you some of the eye-candy from the game. Here are two 1600×1200 pixel screenshots that are suitable for your computer’s desktop background if you like dark backgrounds like I do. I’m currently using the first image for my desktop.

Enjoy!

More and more news stores are hitting the media about the problems with the American housing market. Doom and gloom stories with headlines like, “Housing woes hammer Home Depot, Wal-Mart” seem to be popping up all over the place. And the gloom is spreading world-wide.

The latest crisis in financial markets has once again served as a reminder of how vital and interconnected the health of the U.S. economy is to that of the rest of the world.

From New York to Frankfurt to Tokyo, markets were jolted in the past week by fears that Americans are failing to keep up with their mortgage payments and the ripple effects that could have on the global banking and financial system.

The fallout could further depress U.S. housing prices by making it harder to find buyers for a glut of foreclosed homes. That, coupled with a drop in the value of investments, could leave U.S. consumers feeling poorer and less likely to spend on domestic and imported goods.

Yes, the problems in the housing market can ripple across other markets, but what is the cause of this woe? Part of the blame can be placed on the low interest rates the U.S. has had for years. The low interest rates have allowed more people to afford loans. That isn’t a bad thing by itself, but the lower rates meant that the lending market needed more customers to keep up their profits, so the lending market responded by relaxing their standards. They relaxed their standards on subprime loans, and they relaxed their standards on Internet ads. I will be very happy when the really annoying Flash animation ads will disappear. I don’t need another dancing alien ad. *shudder*

With an increase of subprime loans being made to people with a crappy credit history, is it any wonder that some of these bad credit risks are failing to keep up on their loan payments? They got their bad credit ratings for a reason.

Quick! Send in the government! Matt Carrothers of the North Star Writers Group penned an article about Hillary Clinton’s call for government intervention and aid, and he compares her to Vito Corleone of The Godfather fame. The whole article is well worth reading, but I’ll excerpt two parts:

The concept of borrower responsibility is obviously lost on Clinton. She then cites the plight of her own Signora Colombo, a woman named Kristi Schofield. Kristi and her husband can no longer afford to live in their home, because their adjustable-rate mortgage payments grew from $2,400 to $6,000 per month….

In truth, Clintons plan would heap onerous and needless new regulations on the mortgage industry and establish a $1 billion housing trust fund to help at-risk borrowers avoid foreclosure. In other words, Clintons plan requires responsible taxpayers to subsidize the mortgage payments of deadbeats unable to comprehend the concept of adjustable mortgage rates.

“Save us from our own stupidity!” appears to be the rallying cry of Kristi Schofield and others like her. But stupidity should be painful to inspire people to learn from their mistakes. But as dumb as people are for asking for loans larger than they can pay, and as dumb as lenders are for handing off money to bad credit risks, I can’t lay all the blame for our current housing situation at their feet. I believe that pump-and-dump house flippers have much to be blamed in driving housing prices up.

Crappy house

James Lileks linked to a site that showed a house for sale in San Jose, California, that asks the question, “Affordable starter home or Fallujah-replica in the Bay Area – you decide.” The picture to the right is an interior shot showing missing light switch plates, crappy carpet, and holes pounded in walls and the door. When the blog was written in March 2007, the selling price was $419,900, but here’s what I find very telling — the past sale history.

07/10/2006 $344,845
08/09/2004 $385,000
06/22/2004 $229,000

What could justify the $156,000 increase in the price of the house in a 48 day period? Is putting in new carpet that good of a sales deal? I doubt it. Almost certainly, this house was flipped by someone greedy for money. The poor sucker who bought the house in August of 2004 took it in the shorts. Not only did he pay more than $150,000 more than the previous owner did less than two months before, but when it was sold two years later, he lost $40,000 on the property. Ouch. The last owner has held the property for a year now, and put it up on the market for $75,000 more than the purchase price, which makes me wonder what sort of improvements have been made to the house. After all, based on the pictures placed on the house listing site, there are visible holes in the walls and door, and the kitchen is missing a window. The list price at this writing is $399,900, which is still $55,000 more than the sale price last year, so my question about improvements still stands.

If you listen to pump-and-dump house flippers like Carleton Sheets, you will believe you can make unlimited money buying properties and turning right around and selling them for more money. But this only works while there are suckers people willing to buy the property at ever increasing prices. Like a hand grenade, you win as long as you are able to dump it off on some other fool. Buy that property! *grab* Sell that property! *toss*

Or you may find yourself stuck with an over-inflated property that you can’t sell without losing lots of money. *boom*

In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, one of the catch phrases used by the controlling Socialist party was “ignorance is strength.” While it has been years since I last reread Orwell’s novel, I have long understand that the ignorant are not strong. Strength comes from being the person with knowledge while others are ignorant and easily led. If you don’t want to be easily led by others, then learn more about how things really work.

I keep thinking that the self-appointed intelligentsia of the media can’t shock me anymore with blatant attempts at swaying the ignorant, and then they pull something jaw-dropping out of their butts. Here is the latest polished nugget of poo offered up by the media for the ill-informed to swallow along with the caption that accompanied it:

Magic bullets

An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City.(AFP/Wissam al-Okaili)

I did a spit-take when I first saw the picture above and read that she was holding “two bullets” that had “hit her house.” I showed the picture to TPK and read her the caption, and she instantly realized that the “bullets” held by that Iraqi woman had never been fired. So, our troops are reduced to throwing ammunition now?

My wife has never fired a gun, and yet TPK was quick to spot that the “bullets” held by the Iraqi woman had not been fired. So how did this mistake happen? I see only a few possibilities here:

  • Coalition forces really are reduced to throwing ammunition at the bad guys.
  • The Iraqi woman lied about where the ammunition came from.
  • Wissam al-Okaili gave the ammunition to the Iraqi woman to hold for a staged photo.
  • Wissam al-Okaili is dumber than a box of rocks about ammunition.
  • Wissam al-Okaili thinks you are dumber than a box of rocks about ammunition.

Regardless of the motivation behind the picture, it went past at least a few editors who fit the last two descriptions. And interestingly enough, that picture has been surreptitiously pulled from the Yahoo news site. Earlier on Wednesday, you could find the picture here. But not any more. To borrow another phrase from 1984, it has gone down the memory hole — except that too many people have their own copies of the picture for it to truly vanish. Thanks to the structure and power of the Internet, it is much harder for the media to make information like this photo just go away.

I was not alone at spotting this farce, and I certainly wasn’t the first to see it. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has a nice little list of links addressing the picture. But I believe that I may be the only one to notice something interesting about the text accompanying the picture. Below are two screenshots of the now-vanished picture taken about two hours apart from each other:

First Yahoo photo

Second Yahoo photo

The difference between the two is a little added text to the caption. Since it is cut off on the second screenshot, here’s the complete text:

An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. At least 175 people were slaughtered on Tuesday and more than 200 wounded when four suicide truck bombs targeted people from an ancient religious sect in northern Iraq, officials said. (AFP/Wissam al-Okaili) [emphasis mine - CM]

I emphasized the new text for you. What, pray tell, does that added sentence have to do with the photo? If you said, “Not a bloody thing!” you’ve taken the time to educate yourself about the country of Iraq. If you answered, “It shines a light on the American-made hell-hole that is Iraq!” then you are thinking like a liberal news reporter. To further show just how little the story of the “bullets” and the attack by murderous al-Qaeda thugs relate to each other, here is another graphic I took from the same Yahoo site showing just how close the “bullets” in Baghdad are to the bombing in Kahtaniya about 300 miles away. (Answer: not too close at all. It’s like linking a drive-by shooting in Washington D.C. with a fire in Columbus, Ohio.)

Iraq map

With the addition of that unnecessary sentence to the photo caption, I believe that the photo was staged and foisted on the public by people driven by their own agenda who believe the ignorant masses are too thick to see through them. But we are not nearly as ignorant as the intelligentsia believe we are.

The good news continues to come out of Iraq. Here’s part of a story posted in USA Today on a lazy Sunday:

The number of truck bombs and other large al-Qaeda-style attacks in Iraq have declined nearly 50% since the United States started increasing troop levels in Iraq about six months ago, according to the U.S. military command in Iraq.

The high-profile attacks generally large bombs hitting markets, mosques or other “soft” targets that produce mass casualties have dropped to about 70 in July from a high during the past year of about 130 in March, according to the Multi-National Force Iraq.

Military officers say the decline reflects progress in damaging al-Qaeda’s networks in Iraq. The military has launched offensives around Baghdad aimed at al-Qaeda sanctuaries and bases.

“The enemy had the initiative and the momentum in ’06,” said Jack Keane, a retired general who is a chief architect of the increase in troop levels and mentor to Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. “We’ve got it now.”

Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters Blog looks at the same USA Today report and lists three reasons why the surge has worked so well:

First, the terrorists have no time to expand and strategize. They have to defend themselves from encirclement by American troops, which means they have to go on the run. Any time they move, they have to get out into the open, which exposes them to more danger. If they don’t run, they have to fight military troops, battles in which they do not have the skillsets to succeed.

Second, terrorist tactics have enraged Iraqis and driven them away from the insurgencies. Even other insurgencies have found it necessary to ally with the US military to stop the inhumanity of al-Qaeda control. The terrorists have had to use these brutal techniques to frighten people into compliance with their leadership — a sure sign of desperation. They’re losing the hearts-and-minds battle.

Third, our tenacity allows the Iraqis to rely on us — and that brings another level of unity. They have responded to our efforts by vastly increasing the intelligence that comes to the military, which allows us more success in tamping down the violence. They have begun to unify amongst themselves for their own protection as well, which helps build political strength for Iraq from the ground up. They feel liberated to participate in self-government.

Betcha you won’t see the nightly news TV shows lead off with this news story tonight.

There is a door on the outside of the building where I work that has the following sign:

MANDATORY

Docking door to remained closed at all times.

Here’s my question: how is a door that must remain closed at all times any different from a wall?

Meditate on this koan, Grasshopper.