Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Morally Confused Lash Out At The Secretary of Defense

Defense secretary tells veterans that U.S. faces a ‘new type of fascism’....And the new appeasers take umbrage.

How deep is the irrationality of the Left on the subject of the global terrorist threat? How motivated would they be to lash out at the bearer of any meritorious criticism of their 'position'?

It is very telling, that an article that identifies so directly the similarities between today's so-called war 'dissenters' and the 1930's appeasers whose primary goals is/was inaction against the Fascism of their respective eras, garners a rating of two stars out of a possible five stars with 1828 votes as of 8:04pm Central. There has to be at least one fat-fingered idiot rating the story 1/2 star repeatedly from as many IP addresses as possible to skew the overall rating of the article that low.

Instead, why don't they spend some time answering the SecDef's question:
“Can we truly afford to believe somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?”
I'd love to know their answer.

Update 8:45pm: 2 stars out of 5 for 1969 users.

Final Update 8:45pm Friday 1Aug06: 2 stars out of 5 for 2686 users. "Fat Fingers" must still be checking in from time to time.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Funny and Serious Sides of Taxpayer-Funded Breast Enlargement

It’s too bad the military doesn’t actually promote cosmetic surgery as a benefit. I’d love to see the recruiting posters.

I didn’t consider this ‘news’ article ‘blog-able’ after seeing it in today’s ‘Best of the Web Today’ feature (see “Top Notch Protection”) of the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal website. But then I get home tonight and lo and behold!-- What do I find in the MSNBC/MSN’s ‘Today’s Picks’ bin? None other than the same Reuter’s article, but unlike the humorous take James Taranto has on it (that also gives more depth to the article), it is delivered deadpan. Taranto (or one of his contributors today) tied today’s Reuter’s article to another one that ran a couple of years ago where an allegedly ‘naturally endowed’ female porn star and associates got some free publicity by protesting ‘free’ cosmetic surgery for the active-duty military.

I figure now it is only a matter of hours before Leno, Letterman, O’Brien or Insert-Late-Night-Show-Host-Name-Here gives the story a boost and it will be all over the USA and around the message boards after that. If that happens, expect yet another round of stories with outraged civic groups/citizens complaining about ‘taxpayer-funded boob jobs’.

This is a case of something that seems outrageous at first, but is really quite proper, logical, and serious. There was a pretty definitive article written a couple of years ago in the Cosmetic Surgery Times on the whys and wherefores that make the case for the military offering this ‘service’, and has the unfortunate title of “DOD defends military's plastic surgery benefit”. I would encourage everyone interested in the subject to read it.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to follow the link, here are a few key points with supporting extracts. They aren't particularly earth-shattering -- they are more along the lines of things the man on the street would never take the time to think about.

1. ‘Plastic Surgery’ came into being because of military need.
……. plastic surgery as a specialty emerged out of the horrors of World War I. Now, in an ironic twist, the very institution that spawned the specialty and was essentially responsible for creating the demand for more and better techniques finds itself defending its provision for cosmetic surgery benefits.
2. Cosmetic surgery is available, but not freely available. Nor is it ‘promoted’. In 20 years of military service, and spending considerable time in one of the best military hospitals undergoing multiple reconstructive procedures, and coming in contact with many other patients, I still had no idea that cosmetic surgery was even available to the military until today.
It turns out that although it's true that active duty personnel may seek cosmetic surgery — which, along with all other military health benefits, is free — the surgeon must first get approval from the prospective patient's commanding officer, which reportedly is neither easy to obtain nor frequently granted. Furthermore, the surgery isn't free to dependents or to retired military personnel.

….The DOD allows surgeons to do a small number of cosmetic surgeries per year so that they can maintain their skills and be competitive with their peers when their term of service is complete. Dr. Buss estimates that less than 1 percent of surgeries performed annually in military hospitals are solely elective cosmetic procedures, and of those, Lappert points out, the majority are for retirees or dependents.
3. The value to the government is in how it benefits the medical staff. The patient’s benefit is an independent side-effect as far as the government is concerned.
…..explains that the cosmetic surgery "perk" is actually for the surgeons — not the patients — and that prohibiting plastic surgeons from exercising the full range of their skills would make it difficult, if not impossible, to retain these surgeons in the military….
……."We also use our plastic surgeons to take care of people who have breast cancer, dog bites, cleft lip and so many other things. If we want to keep a cadre of well-trained plastic surgeons wearing uniforms and serving their country, we need to allow them to practice the full scope of care that comes within plastic surgery."
….."This not only teaches skills but is a necessary part of training well-rounded surgeons who are every bit as good as their civilian counterparts in all aspects of their respective surgical specialty," he adds
4. There is a proven benefit to the quality of medical care by the DoD providing limited access to cosmetic surgery.
Several years ago, the military put a stop to solely elective cosmetic surgery, and negative repercussions followed.
"There was a two-year period from around 1990 to 1992 that followed another (bout) of publicity when cosmetic surgery was prohibited in the military," Dr. Buss says. "The elimination of cosmetic surgery resulted in several problems. It hurt our ability to train residents, and our plastic surgery residency programs were suffering. There were negative ratings for plastic surgery and ear-nose-throat (ENT) residency programs because the trainees were not learning how to do cosmetic surgery, and there were problems with trained surgeons being able to take their board certification exams because they didn't have enough cases. It's difficult to retain these people in the military, if you take away a large part of their practice."
I for one, was very glad that my surgeons were top notch when I needed them, and am thankful they got as much practice as possible before I ever met them. I don't give one whit if they got some of that practice doing cosmetic jobs. I mean, the alternative would require me hoping a lot of other people were hurt and disfigured ahead of me wouldn't it?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Who is Tony Karon?

In the spirit of all the recent exposure that media bias is being given these days I offer the above question.

Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, I rarely watch CNN anymore. So I really didn’t know who this "weird" guy was on Paula Zahn’s show ‘Now” that aired on 8 August 2006.

Zahn had a little roundtable on the Hezbollah vs. Israeli combat situation, which I’ve posted part of below. There are numerous instances of "(CROSSTALK)" in the transcript that don’t fully convey the scale of said ‘crosstalk’. And not all ‘crosstalks’ were created equal – some were quite long and a few only momentary. From my perspective, about 90% of the volume of crosstalk came from someone (whom I later learned was Tony Karon) stepping on other people’s attempts to express their views -- especially those of John Fund’s.

I’ve redacted the panel’s background information so the reader can focus on the exchanges. All links are posted at the bottom to avoid spoiling the flow. Those of you who know the answer already should not ruin it for everyone else and more importantly: you need to re-evaluate what you use your memory cells for and why.

Here’s the extract of the transcript downloaded the next day:

We're going to put today's developments to our "Top Story" panel right now: John Fund, Donatella Lorch, and Tony Karon.

Great to have our trio with us tonight.

Donatella, the bottom line here is, the Arab League hates the French-U.S. plan, and the Israelis aren't buying into the Lebanese plan. So, where is there any opening for a compromise here?

DONATELLA LORCH: Well, neither plan seems to be digestible to the other side.

But this is standard. They're going to have the two factions that are going to try and push their agenda as much as possible, including the United States.

So, what has to be done here is, they have to go back. They have to negotiate behind closed doors. And, at the same time, notice that the fighting has intensified along the border. The Israelis are saying they will bring more troops up; they will intensify it. Rockets keep on coming from Hezbollah's side.

Now, if we look at it the way it is, Hezbollah -- Hezbollah doesn't want to be disarmed. And they -- and they want the Israelis out of there, as do the Arab nations. So, there has to be some form of a compromise.

ZAHN: Well, let's talk, John, what about that compromise is going to look like. Even the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, says you can't please all sides here. And he says, the goal is simply to get on the road to a lasting solution.

JOHN FUND: Well, the...


ZAHN: Is that going to be all that different from what has been thrown out before?

FUND: Yes. The U.N. led out with the elements of a compromise six years ago, Resolution 1559, which said, central to having peace in the area, rather than a pause in the peace, was disarming Hezbollah.

ZAHN: Well, that didn't work.

FUND: All -- well, but somebody has to enforce it.

I think the plans can work, if they're accompanied with an international embargo on Hezbollah being resupplied with arms that is actually enforceable. If not, I can assure you, we're going to have a pause in the hostilities, not a peace.

ZAHN: What's the reality here, Tony? Is that ever really enforceable? John just mentioned, for six years, nothing has happened.

TONY KARON: I don't think it's enforceable because of the political climate in the region. I don't think you can solve Lebanon in that -- in the way that he is suggesting, without solving particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli-Syrian conflict, U.S. tension with -- with -- with Iran.

If -- un -- unless you have a comprehensive solution in that way, you're not going to get the political arrangements to work. That's why Hezbollah has never been disarmed.

FUND: Well, then the terrorists -- the terrorists will have more arms. And terrorists do what terrorists do. They launch attacks on innocent civilians, which is how this all started, remember?

KARON: Well, I think that...

LORCH: Well, this is not a two-faction war. This is not Lebanon against Israel.

This is, in many ways, a proxy war. We have the Americans involved, that want to get rid of Hezbollah. We have the Iranians, the Syrians. The way to get -- stop weapons to come in to Hezbollah is for -- somehow or other, for Israel to talk to Syria, for the United States to talk to Syria, to talk to Iran.

ZAHN: Well, the U.S. government has told us they are talking to Syria, maybe not with high-level...

KARON: Well, no, I think it's, you know...

ZAHN: ... officials, but certainly through back channels.


ZAHN: There's no doubt that that is going on at this hour.

KARON: Well...

FUND: The U.N. resolution has been on the table for six years. It's not enforced.

The problem the U.N. has is credibility. Everyone looks at the U.N. and says, you're not going to back up what you say you're going to do. And that's why the international force has to have real teeth this time, not just being a paper tiger.

ZAHN: Tony.

KARON: Well, John, I think that the problem is, yes, the U.N. Resolution 1559. But there's also U.N. Resolution 242, U.N. Resolution 338, U.N. Resolution...


FUND: You're making my point.


FUND: Nothing -- the U.N. never enforces anything.

KARON: Right. But the point is that the United States is only insisting that the U.N. enforce resolutions that -- that concern this conflict.

FUND: Let's start with something...

KARON: No, that's...


KARON: And it's -- no, but... (CROSSTALK)

FUND: Something that actually has people -- innocent people dying, which is terrorists launching rockets...

KARON: The U.S. has actually started with the 242. And they actually dropped that.


FUND: ... would be a good place to start.

ZAHN: All right.

KARON: ... the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


LORCH: The main -- the main thing we have to do right now is try to -- what they have to do right now is try and figure out a way for the shooting to stop and the dead -- the death to stop.

And, to do that, the Arab countries feel that, if the Israelis aren't told that they have to leave, that they will just stay there, and that they will stay there for as long as they like.

So, in addition to this resolution, there has to be a timetable to -- if they agree to the Israeli troops staying, for how long, and when will they leave, and who will replace them, what is the mandate of whoever is going to replace them.

KARON: There's an additional point here, which is that...

ZAHN: Very quickly.

KARON: ... which -- which is that Israel actually doesn't control southern Lebanon at the moment. In order to get to that point, it's going to have to massively expand its operations.

I tuned in right after the introductions but right as the first question was thrown to the panel. As the segment progressed I became increasingly irritated with the behavior of the person I would later learn was Mr. Karon. He wasn’t too bad until John Fund bluntly pointed out how UN resolutions tend not to be enforced.

My first question was “who is this little pissant with the bad Irish accent?” (Mr. Karon comes to us from South Africa, but in his agitated state his tenor sounded kind of like a brogue anyway) My first guess was he was probably a spokesperson for some foreign Non-State Actor organization like Anarchists Against Israel or something. My second question was “why is he so hot-to-squawk on UN Resolution 242”? (I could be mistaken, but I believe there was at least one reference to 242 made by Mr. Karon not listed in the transcript that was buried in the so-called ‘crosstalk’.)

I’m not an ‘expert’ on the subject of UN resolutions of course, but I’m pretty familiar with 242, as it was the basic UN product at the end of the 1967 “6-Day War”, a conflict of particular interest to me. Some would say the resolution ‘brought about the end’ (but I wouldn’t go that far) of the fighting. It didn’t make sense to me that Mr. Karon would wave 242 so boldly in this discussion because it really wasn’t relevant in this situation (Hezbollah kidnaps soldiers and rockets Israel then Israel takes exception and proceeds to kick a**).

Then it occurred to me that perhaps Mr. Karon thought Resolution 242 was about something else, or perhaps he didn’t really understand it. It turns out it is the latter, as a quick search online revealed Mr. Karon has a long history of either ignorance or willful misrepresentation of what Resolution 242 actually contains. From the website of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), we find posted waaay back in February of 2005:
Tony Karon…………misrepresented the terms of U.N. Resolution 242 in his Jan. 10 column entitled “After the Palestinian Elections.” He wrote that the resolution “requires Israeli withdrawal from the territories it seized in 1967,” implying that Israel must withdraw from all those territories (emphasis added). CAMERA contacted Karon to point out that the resolution was carefully worded to call for the withdrawal “from territories,” not “the territories.” This language, leaving out “the,” was intentional, because it was not envisioned that Israel would withdraw from all the territories, thereby returning to the vulnerable pre-war boundaries. And any withdrawal would be such as to create “secure and recognized boundaries.” The resolution’s actual wording calls for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Gee, with a title like the "TIME" Magazine Senior Editor For World Coverage, you’d think he’d be a little bit better informed on such topics. But as a Neocon-hunting ‘former’ activist who views the Vice President of the United States as one of the ‘ingnorant ultranationalists’, I guess that makes him just another barking moonbat with press credentials.

Having read some of his ‘professional’ stuff and his blog, I would say Mr. Karon seems very much in the vein of an ‘almost’ geopolitics author, much like Professor Mary Ann Glendon is on the subject of immigration. That is ‘almost’, in the sense that he almost gets a lot of things but doesn’t really get ‘all’ of anything. He also seems to be an ‘if only’ thinker as well – what he writes would be insightful ‘if only’ the world really did work the way Mr. Karon seems to think it should.

Reading his stuff actually makes me a little sad. It is the same sadness I feel when I’m around monkeys: You almost made it to the top rung little dude… you almost made it.

1. Paula Zahn’s “Now’ 8 August 06 Panel Discussion: Downloaded 9 August 06 @ 0734 CST

2. CAMERA release extract

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Fidel Pinin' for the Fjords?

Soon. May it be very soon, and may Cuba find its way forward a peaceful one.
I still hold hope for a Fidel-Che Tour in Hell this year.