Question of the Day: Terrorists

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are all terrorists treated equal by the media?

Christian Terrorist = Militia

Muslim Terrorist = Islamofascist terrorists bent on destroying our freedoms and converting your children.

Guess not.


WTF is a Hutaree??

Monday, March 29, 2010

I can't find much more on the interwebs about this, but it looks like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided a Christian Militia camp here in Adrian, Michigan.

From the article:

A Christian militia group was a target of at least one of a series of weekend raids the FBI conducted in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, a Michigan militia leader says.
The FBI said Sunday that it had conducted raids in the three states, resulting in at least three arrests. Federal warrants were sealed, but a federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said some of those arrested face gun charges and officials are pursuing other suspects. Some of the suspects were expected in court Monday.

This group is called Hutaree. I looked everywhere on Teh Google, and the only thing I could find regarding just what a Hutaree is I found on their website. It is apparently a Christian warrior.

On its website, Hutaree quotes several Bible passages and states: "We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Anti-Christ. ... Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment."

Find their website here. Big fun.

Maybe more links later if more develops about why the feds raided this enclave.


Thanks to an astute reader at another site I frequent, here's more to the story.

It turns out that these Hutaree members wished to kill cops. In fact, they went as far as to create a plan to:
--kill a cop by luring them in with a fake 9-1-1 call
--sneak to the funeral
--blow up home-made bombs at the funeral to kill even more cops.

After such attacks, the group allegedly planned to retreat to "rally points" protected by trip-wired improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, for what they expected would become a violent standoff with law enforcement personnel.


According to investigators, the Hutaree view local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel as a "brotherhood" and an enemy, and planned to attack them as part of an armed struggle against the U.S. government.



One more link chock-full of info, including what the fundamentalist extremists were just indicted with in Detroit today.


Health Care Reform and the Constitution

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Opponents of health care reform have indicated that the proposed Bill is unConstitutional or that portions of it are, specifically the part that madates that people get coverage. Some states have indicated that they will sue and I have seen plenty of comments from pundits, politicians, and assorted others that are trying to convince me of the unfairness and offensiveness of this Bill. Some are unable to articulate any specific reason as to how it offends the Constitution, while others suggest that health care does not fall under one of the enumerated powers and therefore the feds lack the authority to implement this kind of plan. Supporters claim that it falls under the broad federal area of Interstate Commerce.

I recall a lecture from Con Law I where we were discussing Interstate Commerce and the various cases that led up to our current understanding. This was pre-Raich, mind you, and I asked the professor what exactly qualifies as "interstate commerce". His answer (I am paraphrasing here) was that it was pretty damn near anything the government wanted to call interstate commerce. Understanding this, I had serious doubts as to any court challenge of the individual mandate part of HCR. Orin Kerr over at Volokh, who is way more of Constitutional expert that I am, agrees and points out the odds of a successful challenge:

With all this blogging here at the VC about whether the courts will invalidate the individual mandate as exceeding Congress’s Article I authority, I thought I would add my two cents by estimating the odds of that happening. In my view, there is a less than 1% chance that courts will invalidate the individual mandate as exceeding Congress’s Article I power. I tend to doubt the issue will get to the Supreme Court: The circuits will be splitless, I expect, and the Supreme Court will decline to hear the case. In the unlikely event a split arises and the Court does take it, I would expect a 9–0 (or possibly 8–1) vote to uphold the individual mandate.

He has some other points to make about what he thinks about the mandate and modern incarnation of IC. I tend to mostly agree with him, though I can see the logic behind the mandate. What are your thoughts?



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of attending a rare Sam Adams Utopias tasting.
For those of you who don't know, Utopias is a beer from the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) that pushes the limits of what a beer is. For instance, Jim Koch (founder of Sam Adams), entered Utopias into a French cognac competition. In the blind taste-test, Sam Adams won. Jim Koch got up to accept the award...and admitted Utopias is beer, not liquor. He was nearly boo'ed off the stage. But that's how American brewers roll; we take your little drink and make it ours. We own it.

I believe the abv is in the ballpark of 27%, making the beer 54-proof. 54 proof beer. Not to be trifled with.

Some of the beer in Utopias has been aged for 13 or more years. Jim has been thinking about Utopias for a long time. What is so awesome about it is that Jim's vision is to provide an after-dinner cognac-style drink that's fermented as a beer instead of distilled like a liquor, and he wanted to provide one of the highest quality. A drink as sought-after as the best of the world's cognacs and ports. And by all means, as evidenced by his cognac award (for beer! ha!!), he has done it. Each Utopias is a new beer blended with previous batches until it achieves the exact flavor profile Koch is after.

This is a rare opportunity indeed. Nation-wide distribution of Utopias is a mere 8,000 bottles (roughly wine or cognac bottle sized). And tonight, Mrs. Smitty and I were among a mere 12 people who got to sample from 2 vintages; 2005 and 2009. The tasting was conducted at Dusty's Tap Room in Meridian Twp. (Haslett/Okemos for the yokels), and also included sampling from the Sam Adams 2007 Triple Bock.
Let's get down to business.

The 2005 Utopias was astounding. I actually lose vocabulary over how amazing this beer is. The first words that come to mind are maple syrup. Huge maple syrup aroma (though, to be fair, not a drop of actual maple syrup is used to make this beer) and taste. Big, thick, syrupy body. Not a single hint of CO2 (way too much alcohol and protein for fizz to survive!). White Oak, sherry and vanilla finish this sticky-sweet beer. This one was Mrs. Smitty's favorite.

A brief note on Mrs. Smitty: all I did at about lunch time was text-message Mrs. Smitty and tell her there were 4 spots still open at Dusty's for tonight's Utopias tasting. An hour later, I got a text back saying that she found a sitter and that I better make sure there were 2 spots still left. Mrs. Smitty wanted to go as bad as I did, and enjoyed it every bit as much, carrying-on an in-depth conversation with the Sam Adams rep about flavor profiles.
I won. The rest of you can go home.

Anyway, Utopias 2009 was a completely different beer. None of the maple syrup was present, and it was a few shades deeper amber than the 2005. This one was grainy on the nose, reminding you more than the 2005 that the 2009's progenitor is still indeed beer. Chocolate, slight coffee and a classic cognac oakiness round-out the 2009. Mrs. Smitty liked it less (and by less, she meant "I like double chocolate chip cookies less than I like double chocolate chocolate chip cookies") than the '05, and I personally liked both for completely different reasons. One is beer that tastes like a wholly different drink and the other is beer that nods towards beer but is still...not beer in its taste and complexity.

The '07 triple bock was equally delicious if not quite as ground-breaking. It still had traditional bock characteristics (grain, chocolate, full body), but was still a step above anything I have ever experienced as a bock. Deep plums, prunes, dried cherries and dark chocolate make this beer into another after-dinner libation. Unlike most bocks and doppelbocks, I don't see monks using this as food during lent lest they sleep for 40 days!

All in all, this is a night to remember. I am thrilled I got to be a part of it and I look forward to future tasting adventures at Dusty's.


Healthcare Passes!

Monday, March 22, 2010

In watching the coverage of the passage of this bill, I was struck by a few things. Pelosi is a terrible public speaker or maybe she was excited/drunk/tired. I heard her stumble over word after word and it was painful to watch. More importantly, I saw how unprecedented this was. Voting by party is not all that uncommon, but most bills of this stature have some degree of support from the other party. When Medicare was passed under the Johnson administration, there was bipartisan support. This bill was not bipartisan at all. This was 100% Obama and most of the Democrats.

If this legislation is successful and achieves what it is supposed to achieve, then the Democrats can take all of the credit. If it fails, then they will have a difficult time. If this does well, Republicans will not have much to say since many were vocal critics and had nothing but doom and gloom predictions. Personally, I am cautiously optimistic. The bill doesn't have everything I would have wanted, but it is mostly good. While I think we have a good system right now, I think we are close to having one that is not good. Healthcare and insurance costs are going up much faster than people's wages and I don't see how we can sustain a system like this for very long.



Thursday, March 18, 2010


You Know What Day It Is...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today, the High Holy Day of the Most Extreme Magnitude for Around the Keg. On this safe, but Do It Right.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


Fun at Toyota's Expense.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Oregon SWAT take man into custody after he commits no crimes

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the Minority Report, technology exists that allows authorities to arrest someone before they commit a crime. Oregon Police took a man into custody that was recently placed on administrative leave and lawfully purchased 3 guns. He was disgruntled, which I suppose most people would be after they were placed on administrative leave. According to the article he bought:

Heckler & Koch .45-caliber universal self-loading handgun, a Walther .380-caliber handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle

Ok, he bought an overpriced trendy German pistol, James Bond's gun, and a cheap semi-auto. I doubt it was a real AK-47, which has been banned from import and, by it's definition, would be a machine gun.

It is quite possible that this man may have intended to go on a shooting spree. Before I get totally pissed off, I would like to know more about what prompted:

Medford police watched the man's home overnight, starting at about 9 p.m. Sunday, Hansen said.

Because he was known to have weapons, police wanted to defuse the situation and ensure the man wasn't a danger to himself or others before the neighborhood awakened and people started their daily activities, Hansen said.

Medford's hostage negotiators and SWAT team were called in at 3 a.m. Monday and arrived on the scene at about 5:45 a.m., he said.

About a dozen officers responded. They closed the street for about an hour and evacuated three homes to protect neighbors and prevent bystanders from gathering, he said.

What kinds of statements did he make to co-workers? Did he threaten anyone. He has purchased guns in the past, so it may not have been all that unusual for him to buy stuff like he did. Does he have a history of violence? Is there anything more than buying 3 guns and being "disgruntled"?

It appears he was taken into protective custody and involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility for an evaluation. I have participated in these (though not in Oregon) and have worked at several facilities. While not as bad as jail, this is not a pleasant experience. He also had all of his guns confiscated. In my experience, it is very unlikely he will get them back unless he is willing to spend probably more than they are worth in legal fees to get them back.

I guess the thing that bothers me is that it appears all of this happened to someone based on several legal purchases and no actual threats or actions.


Sean Penn is crazy

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Maybe we need to send him a copy of the Necronomicon. Sean Penn had this to say on Real Time with Bill Maher in regards to Hugo Chavez:

every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it! And accept it. And this is mainstream media, who should – truly, there should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.

I know the media often does a lousy job, but should they go to jail for saying negative things about Chavez? It turns out that the media isn't all that bad to Chavez. According to the Business and Media Institute from 1998 to 2006 his human rights record was only mentioned in 10% of the stories. Maher had some more questions:

MAHER: His image in the media is just a buffoon. You have been there. You know him. You’ve talked to him. That’s all I really know about Hugo Chavez, is what I read in the media. A dictator, took over a lot of the branches of government, wants to be president for life. What do you know that I don’t know, that I should not have such a harsh feeling about this guy?

PENN: I think that if you’re more happy with 20 percent of a population having the access to dreams, access to the feeling they have an identity and a voice. If it’s okay with the 20 percent, versus the 80 percent he gave it to, then you can criticize Hugo Chavez. You know, there are a lot of complicated issues that comes simply out of perspective. We in the United States have a difficult time putting ourselves in the shoes of what has been the history of Venezuela, the history of Latin America, and many other places.We’re very monocultural. And then we are hypnotized by the media. For example, Hugo Chavez. Who do you know here who’s gone through fourteen of the most transparent elections on the globe, and has been elected democratically, as Hugo Chavez?

I thought maybe I had Chavez all wrong and that he may have been a victim of some bad press in the US. I spent some time on a variety of left wing forums, figuring that it was more likely he would have some supporters in those places. He did, but most of the people that seemed to know anything about that part of the world didn't have much good to say about him.

Granted my research was limited, but I concluded that Chavez is not a nice guy and that Penn, while he may have good intentions, is an idiot. Human Rights Watch has a detailed look at Chavez and it is worth reading if you have the time. Amnesty International also has a good page on Venezuela.

What are your thoughts on Chavez?


I'm Convinced.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I was skeptical about belief at first. But now that I have seen this commercial, I am convinced. Allow me to share this with preach this gospel.


Why are we still considering giving money to these guys?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The contractor in question is Blackwater, now called Xe Services. Let's look at their impressive resume:

Massacre 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians.

Shot the VP of Iraq's bodyguard

Shot and killed Akram Khalid Sa'ed Jasim and shot his 3 month old sister in the face and other various family members.

Shot Maulood Mohammed Shathir Husein at Baghdad University.

Shot Husam Hasan Jaber who was driving his taxi in Baghdad.

Almost beat Safeen Hameed Ahmed Qadir to death?

Murdered Khalis Kareem Ali Al Qaysi who was 65 who committed the crime of being in a car near a bunch of cold blooded Xe thugs.

There are other incidents and problems with them. I have no problem with contracting out certain services, especially if the contractors are doing a good job and saving taxpayer money. I just don't understand why we keep going back to a group like Blackwater/Xe.

I have not been much of a fan of Carl Levin, but I am glad that he is questioning this contract and calling for an investigation.


William Kristol and Elizabeth Cheney are despicable

Friday, March 05, 2010

Walter Dellinger, former head of the OLC under Clinton, has an excellent op ed in the Washington Post on that latest episode, in what is being called the New McCarthyism (h/t to Streak). I agree with the outrage directed towards Cheney et al. This is absolutely disgusting. There has been a long tradition in this country of both popular and unpopular causes receiving adequate representation. Much of our legal system is built upon the idea that in order for someone to receive a fair trial, they must be represented. This doesn't mean that the person that represents people accused of bad acts is sympathetic in any way to that person. A lawyer that represents an accused murderer is ok with people murdering other people. Most people understand this.

Except for Kristol and Cheney and any other moron accusing Obama's Justice appointees of being traitors or similar. Dellinger points out in his article:

Thompson's assistance to the military officers who had been assigned to Khadr's case seemed to me to be not only part of a lawyer's professional obligation but a small act of patriotism as well. The other Justice Department lawyers named in this week's attack came to provide assistance to detainees in a number of ways, but they all deserve our respect and gratitude for fulfilling the professional obligations of lawyers. This sentiment is widely shared across party and ideological lines by leaders of the bar. As former Solicitor General Ted Olson wrote in response to previous attacks on detainee lawyers, "The ethos of the bar is built on the idea that lawyers will represent both the popular and the unpopular, so that everyone has access to justice. Despite the horrible Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, this is still proudly held as a basic tenet of our profession."

He concludes with a sentiment that I couldn't have phrased better:

That those in question would have their patriotism, loyalty and values attacked by reputable public figures such as Elizabeth Cheney and journalists such as Kristol is as depressing a public episode as I have witnessed in many years. What has become of our civic life in America? The only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers -- and on the integrity of our legal system -- is shameful. Shameful.


History Lesson

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I wish my history profs taught like this. I would have paid way more attention in class instead of trying to read now all the history books I missed then.

At any rate, from our good friends at Cracked:

5 Reasons Our Founding Fathers Were Kind-of Dicks.

Actually, reading this article now gives you a good sense of who and where we are today. We haven't changed much since 1775.

My favorite is #2: The Colonists Were Crazy. After getting Britain into the French and Indian War, after Britain never really worked to collect taxes, after they agreed not to collect certain taxes, we kept at the bastards.

The best, though, is reason #1: They Stirred Up Religious Bigotry to Get People on Their Side.

To be fair to the asshole teabaggers, there were a few legitimate reasons to hate Great Britain but, to be fair to history, the colonists didn't really choose any of those reasons. They picked greed and bigotry.
We are nucking futs. Anyway, it's a fun read, if not quite informative!


What They Said...

Monday, March 01, 2010

We've all bitched about the Main Stream Media here, and how they have become lazy . Never mind the search for truth; all the MSM does any more is report what somebody said, regardless of its veracity.

Last week, I stumbled across this fun little bit from the folks at Cracked: 5 Things The Media Loves Pretending Are News. Go figure; like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, it obviously takes comedians and snarky Gen-X writers to finally expose truth, rather than just report what people say.

Some of my personal favorites in the post are #5: Let's Ask the Idiots About Science. And this statement from that section of the post rings the truest with me:

When it comes to matters of opinion or personal beliefs, it is absolutely the duty of the news media to report both sides...

When it comes to matters of fact, however, they absolutely do not have that duty. Particularly when it comes to technical or scientific matters where it takes somebody with training to speak knowledgably on the subject.

If we're talking about if, say, vaccines cause autism, we need to hear from scientists. That's a scientific issue. We do not need to hear from Jenny McCarthy or Jim fucking Carrey, in the name of giving "both sides." Jim and Jenny don't get a side. They have no background in the subject, and it's one that requires fucking background.
The MSM, in my mind, regularly confuses FACT with OPINION. Just because someone has something to say on a subject doesn't qualify them to say it, it doesn't mean it's true or even partially true, and it doesn't mean you have to report it, except that you might be ripping on it. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said: "you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."



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