Day by Day

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

LA Times is Trying, but not Succeeding

I have just read a very strange comment from the Readers’ Representative of the Los Angeles Times. It was in answer to a criticism of an LA Times writer, Timothy Rutten. Among many erroneous and unprofessional comments Rutten reported about criticisms of The New Republic’s “Baghdad Diarist” series, one stood out to me as characterizing the worst form of biased editorializing masquerading as “fact-based assessments of news events.”

The phrase, “fact-based assessments of news events,” is what the LA Times Readers’ Representative, Jamie Gold, says Tim Rutten does.

OK, then what were the facts Rutten based his assessments on?

Private Beauchamp, who wrote the “Baghdad Diarist” stories published by The New Republic, wrote about another Army private, a driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle:

He (the driver) slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road.

Then Private Beauchamp followed his first tale of dog killing with:

A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn't have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

Ms. Rutten, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote that (Army Pvt. Scott Thomas) Beauchamp described "… attempts to run over stray dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles…”

Challenged on the accuracy of what Rutten wrote, Jamie Gold, the LA Times Readers’ Representative explained:

Rutten referred to the Bradleys as trying to run over stray dogs, vs. kill the dogs, but I'm not seeing that point as factually wrong (I don't believe that a reader thinks that a Bradley trying to run over dogs is different from a Bradley trying to kill dogs).

Ms. Gold, you are probably right that your readers don’t think “that a Bradley trying to run over dogs is different from a Bradley trying to kill dogs.” I don’t either.

But I do think “that a Bradley trying to run over dogs” or “a Bradley trying to kill dogs” are both different from a Bradley actually killing dogs.

Ms. Gold, don’t you understand that when you say you are “trying” to do something, as you did in both your examples, in either case does it logically follow that the reader would understand that dogs had been killed as a result?

Let me try to make it clear for you. I’ll type very slowly. Suppose I say “I’m trying to take that pretty lady to bed.” Would my readers conclude I slept with her because I said I was trying? No, they would be waiting for additional information, like: “I was trying to get her to sleep with me, but I struck out.”

So it is with trying to kill dogs with a Bradley, or trying to bed a pretty lady. Just because you’re trying, doesn’t mean you’re succeeding.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You Are What You Eat

(Several years ago when Alice and I were serving on the school board, there was a contentious issue about whether the schools could use irradiated foods in the cafeteria that the government was providing from surplus stocks at substantial savings. The local Hippie community showed up at our meeting in vast numbers – about forty people, vast for our community – well half-vast, anyway – to register their uninformed and misguided opposition to irradiated foods, and to praise organic foods. One woman in particular, with a doughy face and frumpy body, who looked two decades older than her age, took the floor to tell us how modern foods were full of horrible things, and organic weren’t. She concluded by saying that we had to be good to our bodies because “we are what we eat.”

After the meeting Alice and I compared our notes, and found that we both thought the same thing at the same time; we wanted to find out what she eats, and make sure we avoid it.)

The featured article in the San Francisco Chronicle recently was a strange missive from a reader in Berkeley (see the copy of it below). Apparently California now requires even “raw” food sold in markets to undergo some level of processing, undoubtedly to kill bacteria in it before it kills its consumers. I’m not shocked by this. Every time there is a problem involving the sale of contaminated food, and death and/or illness accompanies it, there is an outpouring of outrage that our governmental agencies are not doing enough to protect the public health.

I’m also not shocked, since over fifty years ago I remember small dairies in California going out of business because they couldn’t afford to buy all the stainless steel milk processing and storage equipment to meet California’s upgraded standards for Grade A dairies.

So what is Ms. Nowve’s point? One, that when food processors kill bacteria in food, they make the food worthless. Based on my own personal experience, and on what I believe are the experiences of billions more, I think that classifying processed food as worthless is a matter of opinion on the part of Ms. Nowve, not fact.

In fact, I personally have observed that the consumers of processed food outlive consumers of unprocessed food by wide margins. And as the science of food processing and storage has progressed, the average life expectancies have increased remarkably in the developed world. I already note similar advances as we pass our progress on to the developing world.

However, I have also observed that, up to this point in time, all humans seem to be destined one day to die, regardless of diet.

Ms. Nowve’s second point is that what she eats should be her choice.

Bless me, Ms. Nowve, but what you eat is your choice!

No one in Berkeley is force feeding you (I presume). You are free to travel about, and find and purchase the foods you desire, in whatever condition of non-processing you desire, and thence to consume them.

Raw milk? No problem!

Our family lived in Point Arena, on the northern California coast, in the 1950s. We had a cow, a Jersey we named Cinnamon, with big beautiful brown eyes. My brother Ron and I milked her twice a day when she was “fresh,” and her milk was very rich in butterfat. After milking we would pour the milk through a cheesecloth strainer to remove the particles of dirt & etc. (you really don't want to know) that fell into the bucket as we milked Cinnamon. We poured the milk into gallon glass jars, and stored it in the refrigerator to inhibit the growth of the bacteria (which certainly resided therein).

With the passage of a few hours, the cream would rise to the top of the jar, and we would pour most of it off to hand churn butter. The rest we would consume prodigiously, since as readers of this blog know, my brother Ron and I were not only “strong as an ox, and nearly as smart,” we were about as big as an ox too.

Our buddy Bob Seymour wrote he was amazed to watch us eat our morning cereal from mixing bowls.

We also grew a variety of vegetables and fruit in a large garden near our house.

I imagine that, at this point, Ms. Nowve is going to think that the reason brother Ron and I were so big, so strong, and so smart was because of all the raw food we consumed.

Sorry, Ms. Nowve, I hate to burst your bubble, but except for the milk and strawberries from our garden, everything else we ate was cooked. We also ate loaves of white bread, labeled Wonderbread, and Mom bought us Wheaties by the case. A special treat was adding Hershey’s chocolate syrup to make our raw milk into chocolate milk.

Alice reminds me that, as far as she is concerned, I have gotten way off the point in replying to Ms. Nowve. Alice feels, and I’m sure she’s right, that we taxpayers and consumers bear the costs of illnesses and lawsuits brought by individuals who buy contaminated foods from commercial suppliers licensed and regulated by overlapping layers of government.

This being America, the land of the free and the home of the litigious, every citizen has the right to do something stupid, and then expect the courts to handsomely compensate them for the consequences of their stupidity.

Drive with a hot cup of coffee and spill it in your lap? Sue McDonald’s for selling hot coffee to an idiot.

Smoke cigarettes for over forty years, all the while ignoring: “Warning: The Surgeon General says smoking will kill your dumb ass,” and then sue the tobacco companies for selling them to you.

Insist health care is a right, but paying for it is the responsibility of someone else.

But getting back to your point, Ms. Nowve, you may eat what you like. You may have a hard time finding a store that carries what you want to eat, but that’s a force of the marketplace, because there aren’t many nuts out there that want to pay good money for rich servings of e-coli.

Here is Ms. Nowve's letter:

What I eat should be my choice

Editor - Re "Tough new standards for state's raw milk," (Oct. 26): It is quite apparent that California is waging a war on raw health food. First, it outlaws raw juices. Then raw almonds. (Pasteurized almonds are not raw, although they are now being labeled "raw.")

Now this surprise stealth measure banning raw milk. These food fascists love to pretend they are just watching out for our health. But they are actually killing everything live that people might eat, in order to kill bacteria. But in killing the bacteria, they are also killing for (sic) food, and making it worthless.

I eat a raw diet and I believe cooked food is bad for people. I don't force my views on anyone else. People can eat what they like as long as they accord me the same courtesy. But they don't. This all boils down to the question of whether adults can be trusted to make personal decisions for themselves, or if we are all a bunch of backward children who need the government to make our decisions for us. Big Brother: Get your laws off my body!

FRANCES NOWVE
Berkeley

Sunday, October 28, 2007

LA Times Joins The New Republic in Humiliation

Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times penned an article Drudge, New Republic battle over 'Baghdad Diarist', that provides a textbook illustration of the time-honored approach to discussion, the “red herring.”

Mr. Rutten does nothing to advance an argument or to make a point, but merely uses the device of listing question after question. The questions have nothing to do with allegations that the 'Baghdad Diarist' articles are untruthful, but are only raised to divert attention from the articles.

It is as if Mr. Rutten thinks that raising questions about the role or motives of Drudge in reporting the allegations that ‘Baghdad Diarist’ stories are false somehow substantiates the stories.

Mr. Rutten, the only thing that would or could substantiate the 'Baghdad Diarist’ stories are the facts contained in the stories, not the pedigree of an aggregator of news stories who selected them for inclusion in his blog.

But as long as we’re asking questions, why not some of you?

Mr. Rutten, why in your Los Angeles Times article did you write that (Army Pvt. Scott Thomas) Beauchamp described "… attempts to run over stray dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles…”?

I assume you actually read the article and noticed that Private Beauchamp described observing another Army private, the driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, killing two dogs with the Bradley, and that Private Beauchamp described both killings in great detail.

Remember?

He (the driver) slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road.

You do remember that, right Mr. Rutten?

How about?

A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn't have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

Yet you described that Private Beauchamp wrote of attempts to run over stray dogs, not the killing of the stray dogs that Private Beauchamp described.

Why didn’t you write that Beauchamp described the “killing” of stray dogs rather than “attempts” to run over them?

May I speculate why you chose to mischaracterize what Private Beauchamp wrote?

I believe that you realize, as do I, that only a fool or a someone complicit in Beauchamp’s fanciful reporting would publish his account as fact.

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I’m sure you, as did I, looked at a photo of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle while reading Beauchamp’s account of catching the first dog in the Bradley’s tracks. Of course, we both noticed that the Bradley driver sits low in the left front of the Bradley, with a steel hatch cover and a turret completely blocking the view of the right rear area.

We immediately noticed that the only way the driver could "snag its (the dog's leg) under the tracks" would be to have the front of the right track roll precisely over the dog's leg. Why is that? Because a 30-ton Bradley traveling at dog-walk speed cannot make a track bounce into the air to land on a dog's leg.

To further complicate matters, to lurch a slow moving Bradley to its right, you have to almost stop the right track, and let the unbraked left track push you into the right turn.

So now the driver has done something bordering on the impossible. He has caught the leg of a dog he couldn't see in a precise spot of the track where its leg would be wedged and thus caught, and Private Beauchamp adds to the incredulity by observing it all from ...?

From where?

Wasn't Beauchamp inside the Bradley?

What could he see from there?

Further, didn’t we both notice that it is impossible to drag something caught in a Bradley track? Apparently Private Beauchamp is not as observant as you and I, and didn’t perceive that anything caught in a Bradley track could not possibly be dragged, because the portion of the track where the animal was caught would remain on the same spot of ground until it became the rearmost piece of track, and then would suddenly be propelled upwards, then violently forward. Something caught in it might be flung upwards, or if caught firmly be carried upwards and forward, but it could never be dragged.

I’ll bet you also caught that the second dog could not have died in the manner described by Private Beauchamp. Again looking at the photo of the Bradley, we would have noticed its wide track.

“How wide is that track, I wonder?”

A quick Google of “Bradley Fighting Vehicle” got us the answer, didn’t it?

Twenty-one inches wide.

How long is the torso of a dog?

I don’t know about your dog, Mr. Rutten, but my dog Buddy has a very long torso, 28 inches. Even if a dog as large as Buddy were lying squarely across the path of a Bradley, and was struck in its exact center, there would be a 3.5 inch rear portion, a smashed middle, and a front portion with neck and head, with all portions still attached. It is beyond any and all rational belief to think that an animal run over by a 21 inch-wide track on a 30-ton vehicle would have a rear part left that was capable of “twitching wildly,” or a “head (that) was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.”

You see, Mr. Rutten, you and I can easily visualize the effect a Bradley track would have on a dog, can’t we? In fact, with our superior logic and experience we know that such a track, hitting the average dog, would in fact smash all of it flat, leaving nothing to twitch wildly or smile at the sun.

Mr. Rutten, I appreciate that your regard for your fellow professionals at The New Republic brought forth your effort to obfuscate this matter and spare them public humiliation and embarrassment at the hands of Bloggers, but the matter is shockingly simple.

If The New Republic editors cannot demonstrate why they did not reject Private Beauchamp’s easily disproven tales, then they were either incompetent or complicit in spreading lies about United States soldiers serving in Iraq.

Isn't it one of the lowest things a journalist could do, engaging in specious reporting and casting aspersions upon the actions of men who are serving their country honorably? Stealing their valor by spreading and sensationalizing false stories?

Clearly there is no room for a third interpretation, and nothing that has happened subsequent to The New Republic publishing the stories can change that.

Trying to drag Drudge in, and posing a series of irrelevant questions about Drudge’s participation, leaves a stink rising from your article like that of a dead red herring lying in the sun.

You see, Mr. Rutten, when the essential elements of a story are false, the story is false. Even when it is reported by someone the Los Angeles Times doesn’t like.

So congratulations, Mr. Rutten.

Now you have brought the Los Angeles Times into solidarity with The New Republic in their public humiliation and embarrassment.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"The New Republic" is Blogger Road Kill

Before I unload, several major bloggers have already nailed down a strong case against the editorial staff of The New Republic.

Here is a very well researched and organized dénouement of The New Republic article by blogger extraordinaire
Bob “Confederate Yankee” Owens. (A big hat tip to Captain’s Quarters)

Here is more great stuff
Mr. Owens posted on Pajamas Media.

Just as the blogosphere dismembered CBS News and Dan Blather over the Texas Air National Guard forgeries, now The New Republic is paying the price for liberal bias, ignorance of the military, slipshod fact checking, and stone-walling.

Of particular interest to me was the way that expertise on one issue was contributed by readers of the Confederate Yankee blog. The New Republic published an article, Shock Troops, by Army Private Scott Beauchamp, writing from and stationed in Iraq. One of Private Beauchamp’s stories was highly detailed, and in reflection, totally unbelievable.

The story, as told by Private Beauchamp:

I know another private who really only enjoyed driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles because it gave him the opportunity to run things over. He took out curbs, concrete barriers, corners of buildings, stands in the market, and his favorite target: dogs. Occasionally, the brave ones would chase the Bradleys, barking at them like they bark at trash trucks in America--providing him with the perfect opportunity to suddenly swerve and catch a leg or a tail in the vehicle's tracks. He kept a tally of his kills in a little green notebook that sat on the dashboard of the driver's hatch. One particular day, he killed three dogs. He slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road. A roar of laughter broke out over the radio. Another notch for the book.

The second kill was a straight shot: A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn't have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

I didn't see the third kill, but I heard about it over the radio. Everyone was laughing, nearly rolling with laughter. I approached the private after the mission and asked him about it.

"So, you killed a few dogs today,” I said skeptically.

"Hell yeah, I did. It's like hunting in Iraq!" he said, shaking with laughter.

"Did you run over dogs before the war, back in Indiana?" I asked him.

"No,"he replied, and looked at me curiously. Almost as if the question itself was in poor taste.


The first point that commenters made was that it would be impossible for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle to be used in the way described to kill dogs. Mr. Owens contacted an expert at the manufacturing company and confirmed this. The expert was the same guy The New Republic had interviewed previously to support Private Beauchamp's story. Unfortunately for The New Republic, their fact checker was clueless about military vehicles and didn't ask pertinent questions.

First, the crew of a Bradley includes its commander, a gunner, the driver, and two to six mission soldiers. Beauchamp’s description of the driver, an Army Private, having the capacity to operate the Bradley as his own personal joy ride vehicle to act out his video game fantasies is incredible. Number 1, his commander (riding in the turret) wouldn’t allow it. Number 2, it would make an already very uncomfortable ride totally unbearable for the mission soldiers cramped inside the Bradley, and they wouldn’t let him do it.

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Bradley Fighting Vehicle - note driver at left forward, with hatch behind, and turret to right and behind. The driver has a great position to spot something at the right rear, don't you think?

Second, look at the picture of the Bradley, and note that the Bradley driver has a very limited range of view. He would not even be able to see a dog near his tracks, and would not be able to see to the rear at all to appreciate what he supposedly did. Of course, Beauchamp, who wrote that he observed two kills one day, was not the driver, commander, or gunner, and would have absolutely no way to see anything happening outside the Bradley.


Occasionally, the brave ones would chase the Bradleys, barking at them like they bark at trash trucks in America--providing him with the perfect opportunity to suddenly swerve and catch a leg or a tail in the vehicle's tracks.

Look at the picture of the Bradley. The Bradley driver is on the left front, the soon-to-be-dead dog would be approaching on the right rear.

We have already established that the driver can’t see behind – look at the picture of the Bradley again, and the raised steel hatch lid behind the driver – and the picture also shows that the Bradley turret blocks the driver’s view of the entire right side, all the way to the horizon - and yet Private Beauchamp wrote that the driver would be able to see a dog approaching the Bradley from the right rear, and then be able to swerve the Bradley to the right in such a way as to catch the dog in its tracks.

That’s right. Tracks.

As the Army veterans who commented to Bob Owens noted, in order to swerve a Bradley to the right traveling at low speed – at a speed slower than that of the dog walking up to the Bradley - you have to stop the right track while the left track continues ahead. At low speed the Bradley does not skid suddenly, and it can’t catch anything in its track.


The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road.

Have you ever watched a track on a rolling tank? You can’t drag anything caught in a moving tank tread. The tread is moving in an endless loop. Look at the picture again and try to visualize where a dog’s leg could be caught in order for it to be dragged. Remember, while the portion of track where the “leg caught” was in contact with the ground, it can't move. Only when that portion becomes the rearmost part of the track does it move, and then it goes up, followed by violently forward.

Not for one moment would anything caught in the track be dragged.

A dog to be caught would have to be very slow, and also deaf.

The Bradley weighs thirty tons, and makes a horrendous noise.

Just the sort of thing to attract every feral dog in the neighborhood to want to run after it and get a piece of it, right?

That brings us to dog kill number 2.
The second kill was a straight shot: A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn't have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

I just measured my dog, Buddy. He has an exceptionally long torso, roughly 28” long, probably placing him in the top five percentile for body length, and much longer than any Iraqi dogs I’ve seen pictured.

The Bradley track is 21” wide.

If a Bradley ran over a normal sized dog, there would no “front half completely severed from its rear.” There would be one dog completely crushed on the road.

Suffice it to say, just looking at one photo of a Bradley gives the lie to Private Beauchamp’s fanciful descriptions of "dogicide."

That still leaves a lot of other details in doubt.

In terms of Private Beauchamp’s description of radio traffic, since radios only allow one set to be transmitting on a frequency at a time, it’s hard for me to visualize how “A roar of laughter broke out over the radio.”

Not only how, but from whence and from whom?

Still, the editors of The New Republic are sticking to their story, but they’re stuck like a deer in the headlamps, and a convoy of bloggers are coming at them at high speed.

The New Republic road kill is on the Blog City Diner menu tonight.

For the many of you fortunate not to have The San Francisco Chronicle as your daily newspaper, the “road kill” and “Blog City Diner menu” are a tribute to the late Chronicle cartoonist Phil Frank, who had a group of black bears running the Fog City Diner, where the critter customers selected from a menu featuring the choicest of the day’s road kill.

"Hey, Bloggers, tonight's special is "The New Republic," grilled and stuffed with crow."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sicko, and other Liberal Frauds

Everyone wants the government to run everything, but thinks the government doesn’t do a good job of taking care of what they do run. At least, when a Republican is in office.

For example, over half our citizenry want socialized medicine (a national health service, just like the United Kingdom (UK)). And of course, just like the citizens of the UK, our citizens want better health services than are available through private providers. (The Brits can’t stand their National Health Services dental care - click here, and scroll down to the third testimonial, the Russell Fraser letter - but their high taxes don’t leave any but the very rich enough money to buy private dental services. So they go to Hungary, along with the Austrians and Germans. And me. I have dental insurance, but it doesn’t cover implants. Yet.)

Back to Americans’ health service demands, or expectations. Universal coverage is very important. So is excellent health care. Add to that, low cost. Don’t forget, leading edge research and development of life-saving and life-extending drugs and medical procedures is also extremely important. And the best medical schools.

Where do we find that now?

Nowhere.

Where do we come the closest to finding it?

The United States.

We have much better outcomes than Western Europe curing heart diseases and cancers. We don’t let 35,000 mostly elderly citizens perish in a heat wave. We employ far more expensive and state-of-art medical equipment and procedures.

We should.

We invented and developed most of them.

Our medical schools are second to none.

But universal coverage?

Through a hodge-podge and mish-mash of programs, we almost have universal coverage. Although activists and politicians bandy about a figure of roughly 47 million uninsured, about twelve million are illegal aliens and can get free medical treatment through hospital emergency rooms.

Another 17 million earn more than the median household income of $46,326. They can afford to buy health insurance or pay medical expenses directly, but probably don’t worry about it because 60 percent of the medically uninsured reported they were in excellent or very good health.

Perhaps that’s one of the dividends of taking good care of yourself, watching your weight, getting lots of exercise, not smoking or addicted to drugs or alcohol. You can save money on healthcare, and spend it on building a business, buying a home, or investing for your future.

Of course you’ll be resented for not paying “your fair share” to care for those who won’t care for themselves, but no matter how much they want to take from you to give to them, it would never be enough. Such “generosity” only fuels demands for more.

So what is the true extent of the uninsured “crisis?” The Kaiser Family Foundation, a liberal non-profit frequently quoted by the media, puts the number of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 13.9 million and 8.2 million. That is a much smaller figure than the media report.

Kaiser’s 8.2 million figure for the chronically uninsured only includes those uninsured for two years or more. It is also worth noting, that 45 percent of uninsured people will be uninsured for less than four months according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Of course, significant portions of our populace are covered by Medicare and Medicaid, at least until the bankruptcy and inefficiencies of these two government programs bring both of them or all other government programs competing for the same resources into wreckage and ruin.

You hadn’t heard Medicare was bankrupt? It’s been operating in the red for three years now. Its so-called Trust Fund, a collection of worthless government paper not even suitable for toilet use, will be technically bankrupt by 2019, but its benefits already exceed its tax revenues starting in 2004.

In accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, mandated by our government for businesses but not government, both Social Security and Medicare have been bankrupt for years, as anyone with sense enough to read Census and actuarial tables, and then compare projected benefits to tax revenues, would realize.

However, be of good cheer. The welfare states of Europe will be bankrupt long before we face the music.

Pity we can’t learn from their mistakes.

How Does The New Republic Spin This?

I was totally fascinated reading the following "Flash" report on Drudge (scroll down for a copy), and then the "Document 1" when I took a break for lunch. When I returned, the "Shock Docs" item was gone from Drudge's front page, and the links to the documents no longer worked.

Apparently The New Republic is not giving up without a fight. In "Document 1" they were trying to talk Army Private Beauchamp into not giving interviews to the Washington Post and Newsweek, presumably not until he gives The New Republic a chance to frame the exposure of his (Beauchamp's) lies and fabrications in a more favorable light.

The New Republic editors Foer and Scoblic kept reminding Beauchamp how they stood behind him, and how he swore to them his stories were true.

I hope soon to see Documents 2 and 3, because Document 1 brought the points home that The New Republic was stuck with a story in print that they took on the word of its author, that the author and the Army both have repudiated many key points, and now that author doesn't want to have anything more to do with it.

Below is the article as originally posted on Drudge:


SHOCK DOCS: THE NEW REPUBLIC 'SHOCK TROOPS' STORY COLLAPSES

WED Oct 24 2007 12:29:44 ET

The DRUDGE REPORT has obtained internal documents from the investigation of THE NEW REPUBLIC'S "Baghdad Diarist", Scott Thomas Beauchamp, an Army private turned war correspondent who reported tales of military malfeasance from the Iraq War front. The documents appear to expose that once the veracity of Beauchamp's diaries were called into question, and an Army investigation ensued, THE NEW REPUBLIC has failed to publicly account for publishing slanderous falsehoods about the U.S. military in a time of war.

Document 1: Beauchamp Refuses to Stand by Story (Beauchamp Transcript Part 1)
THE NEW REPUBLIC has been standing behind the stories from their Baghdad Diarist, Scott Thomas Beauchamp, since questions were first raised about their accuracy over the summer. On August 10, the editors at TNR accused the Army of "stonewalling" their investigation into the stories by preventing them from speaking with Beauchamp. The DRUDGE REPORT has since obtained the transcript of a September 7 call between TNR editor Frank Foer, TNR executive editor Peter Scoblic, and Private Beauchamp. During the call, Beauchamp declines to stand by his stories, telling his editors that "I just want it to end. I'm not going to talk to anyone about anything really." The editors respond that "we just can't, in good conscience, continue to defend the piece" without an explanation, but Beauchamp responds only that he "doesn't care what the public thinks." The editors then ask Beauchamp to cancel scheduled interviews with the WASHINGTON POST and NEWSWEEK.

Document 2: Beauchamp Admits to "Gross Exaggerations and Inaccurate Allegations" (Beauchamp Transcript Part 2)
The DRUDGE REPORT has also obtained a signed "Memorandum for Record" in which Beauchamp recants his stories and concedes the facts of the Army's investigation -- that his stories contained "gross exaggerations and inaccurate allegations of misconduct" by his fellow soldiers.

Document 3: Army Investigation: Tales "Completely Fabricated," Beauchamp Wanted to be Hemingway
The third document obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT is the Army's official report on the investigation into the allegations made by Private Beauchamp. The Army concluded that Beauchamp had "completely fabricated" the story of mocking a disfigured woman, that his description of a "Saddam-era dumping ground" was false, and that claims that he and his men had deliberately targeted dogs with their armored vehicles was "completely unfounded." Further the report stated "that Private Beauchamp desired to use his experiences to enhance his writing and provide legitimacy to his work possibly becoming the next Hemingway." The report concludes that "Private Beauchamp takes small bits of truth and twists and exaggerates them into fictional accounts that he puts forth as the whole truth for public consumption."

Developing...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Democrats Say Iraq Had WMD, Then Forget They Said It

Not only did Democrats say Iraq had WMD, then forgot they said it, but the Main Stream Media not only forgot the Democrats said, they also forgot they have the tapes and files of what was said and when.

One of the simple pleasures of life is watching and listening to Democrats saying exactly the opposite of their current positions.

My life overflows with simple pleasures.

For example, in the following video (Democrats On WMD Before the Iraq War), Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Harry Reid, Madeline Albright, Joe Biden, and Sandy Berger all say that Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction, and agree that something must be done about it.

Many others could have been included. John Kerry, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, et al ad nauseum, but suffice it to say their flip flops were reported for posterity in a previous blog post (By Their Own Words They Are Condemned), and confirmed by TruthOrFiction.com.

Are the Democrats and the Main Stream Media all amnesiacs? Have the Democrats forgotten they were recorded saying these things?

Have the Main Stream Media forgotten they have the tapes and files?

Are they all just counting on the ignorance and indifference of the American populace?

They know how to bet a sure thing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Greatest NFL Quarterback

The announcers on Monday Night Football spent the entire Colts – Jaguars game comparing the Patriot’s Tom Brady and the Colt’s Peyton Manning, trying to decide which quarterback was the best ever. Late in the game, discussing Manning, they wandered off the game, already safely in the Colt’s win column, and showed a few film clips of John Unitas in action.

As a 49er fan, since 1954, I am sure the greatest quarterback of all time is Joe Montana. But if I had to put Joe aside and pick another, I would pick John Unitas with no hesitation.

For a whole bunch of good reasons that have nothing to do with statistics. In Unitas’ day only 12, later 14, games were played each season, compared to 16 now. Today talent flows through free agency to the best and/or richest teams. Tom Brady is the same quarterback this year as he was last year, but the Patriots (7 wins, 0 losses) have Randy Moss, Donté Stallworth, and Wes Welker for him to throw to this year. The quarterbacks for the Raiders (2-4), Eagles (2-4), and Dolphins (0-7) don't anymore.

But getting to basics, it was a lot harder to pass in the days of Unitas. Receivers were mugged from the moment the ball was snapped until it was in the air. A quarterback had to be able to throw with precision, yet make adjustments instantaneously.

Then be able to take tremendous punishment after each pass, because quarterbacks in the good old days were considered just another football player, and to be called for roughing the passer you really had to flagrantly hit him or run into him after he released the ball. Being penalized for patting the quarterback’s head, or bumping into him while trying to pull up, protect today’s quarterbacks far more than their predecessors.

His offensive linemen had to block pass rushers with their hands firmly clutching their own jerseys, not in the arms extended Sumo wrestler slapping style you see today. The old rules used to heavily favor the running game over passing.

In fact, it was widely known in the NFL of the1950s that holding by offensive linemen was frequently called on passing plays, and rarely on runs.

And as Terry Bradshaw would mention, “You know, we called our own plays too.”

Comparisons are an apples and oranges thing anyway, considering the changes in football over the past fifty years.

However, I know that if Johnny Unitas played today, with the abilities he had fifty years ago, he would be a great player. I have sincere doubts that the top quarterbacks today could have done as well if they played fifty years ago.

Although I must admit, Peyton Manning reminds me a lot of Unitas, except he is nowhere the runner Johnny U was.

Asian And Black Racial Disparity In America

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Wisdom concerning racial disparity in America still escapes Liberal writers and scholars. For the latest example of ignorance and illogic, we look in one of the usual source, a fast fading main stream media propaganda mill, the San Francisco Chronicle.

Race Disparities Persist in U.S. By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer, in the November 14, 2006 San Francisco Chronicle.

“Decades after the civil rights movement, racial disparities in income, education and home ownership persist and, by some measurements, are growing. White households had incomes that were two-thirds higher than blacks and 40 percent higher than Hispanics last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

“Home ownership grew among white middle-class families after World War II when access to credit and government programs made buying houses affordable. Black families were largely left out because of discrimination, and the effects are still being felt today, said Lance Freeman, assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University and author of "There Goes the 'Hood."

“Home ownership creates wealth, which enables families to live in good neighborhoods with good schools. It also helps families finance college, which leads to better-paying jobs, perpetuating the cycle, Freeman said.

"’If your parents own their own home they can leave it to you when they pass on or they can use the equity to help you with a down payment on yours,’ Freeman said.”

Noteworthy in this article is how Mr. Freeman and others ignore Asians in their analyses of the effect of race on income, education, and home ownership. It is understandable that a writer trying to prove a point about racial disparity in America would want to leave Asians out of the discussion, because they disprove every point the writer is laboring to make.

As I noted in an earlier post, which I should have made available to the author to help him avoid appearing a fool, Asians who recently “got off the boat” penniless and uneducated are now the highest paid, highest educated, and close to the top in home ownership as a racial group in America.

Those high-achieving Asians, and whites like my wife Alice and I, did not benefit from home ownership wealth to finance college. They, and we, worked hard to put ourselves through college. The Asians, like most Blacks and many Hispanics, can be identified as a member of a racial minority by their appearance. Many Asian Americans, unlike most Blacks and many Hispanics, arrived with no education, no English language abilities, to work in unfamiliar occupations in a strange culture, and with little or no capital to begin a business or buy a home.

Thirty percent of white adults had at least a bachelor's degree in 2005, while 17 percent of black adults and 12 percent of Hispanic adults had degrees. However, 49 percent of Asian Americans had at least a bachelor's degree.

The median income for white households was $50,622 last year. It was $30,939 for black households, $36,278 for Hispanic households and $60,367 for Asian households.

The poverty rate for white residents was 8.3 percent in 2005. It was 24.9 percent for black residents, 21.8 percent for Hispanic residents, and 11.1 percent for Asian residents.

The home ownership rate for whites in 2005 was 76 percent, blacks 44 percent, Hispanics 48 percent, and Asians 59 percent.

What do these statistics show or prove? Obviously, whites have done well, as would be expected, placing first in lowest poverty rate and in highest home ownership, and second in education and income. And even more obviously, Asians have done really well, placing second to whites in home ownership and low poverty rate, and first in college education and household income. If I was a betting man, I would bet that with their education and income numbers, their poverty rate will be going down while their home ownership goes up significantly.

The author of the race disparity article would have you believe that race, and vestiges of racial discrimination, explain why blacks and Hispanics lag far behind. However, the author doesn’t explain why these same factors don’t cause Asians to lag behind, let alone why they actually excel in the supposedly racist American environment while Hispanics, and especially blacks, falter.

"The wealth gap is not just a story of merit and achievement, it's also a story of the historical legacy of race in the United Sates," said Thomas Shapiro, author of "The Hidden Cost of Being African American."

But the wealth gap between African Americans and Asian Americans is a story of merit and achievement. I’m sure Mr. Shapiro is enough of a student of history to have heard of coolie labor, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Japanese American internment camps during World War II, and the desperate, penniless refugees after the fall of Saigon, the “boat people,” and survivors of Cambodian killing fields.

It’s not like Asian refugees weren’t exposed to racism in America. Blacks in particular have attacked Korean shopkeepers in black neighborhoods, and then complained they have to travel far from their neighborhoods to shop.

Liberal cities like San Francisco have tried to impose quotas on the number of Asian students admitted to the most prestigious San Francisco high schools. Liberals in the University of California system are seeking ways to discriminate against Chinese students by establishing criteria beyond grades and test scores for admittance.

Apparently, liberals don’t like it when some minority groups don’t need their special help to thrive in America, because it might call into question why any need such help.

In fact, some might even be so bold as to remark that minorities who work hard, who study hard, achieve more in America by far than anywhere else in the world. That would destroy entire liberal cultures that focus on identifying victims on the basis of race and “lack of opportunity.”

Anytime you read about any group in America not doing well because they are suffering from the “indirect effects of lingering racism,” ask yourself why others are not.

The answer may be painful, but as Sakini (Marlon Brando) said in Teahouse of the August Moon: "Pain makes man think. Thought makes man wise. Wisdom makes life endurable."

"Socks up, boss!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Global Warming is Easy to Stop!

According to Sceptical environmentalist is hardly 'even-handed', from Mr Hendrik Van den Berg, FinancialTimes.com, October 18, 2000: “The team of experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who shared the peace prize, concluded that emissions could be cut below current levels at a very modest cost of about one-tenth of 1 per cent growth per year for the next 25 years. This cost is not high because there are many damaging things we can stop doing at no real cost whatsoever, such as introducing more efficient engines, insulating buildings and eating less.”

If stopping global warming is so easy, why don’t we just do it? Just stop all the fussing around and get it done!

While we’re doing all the above, while also remembering that we’re part of the one billion people living in the developed world, what is the rest of the world doing? Eating less. Of course!

The world population is 6.55 billion, of which 5.1 billion live in the developing world. Approximately one billion live below the international poverty line, earning less than one dollar a day. About one billion don’t have enough to eat, consuming less than the minimum amount of calories essential for sound health and growth.

In the developing world, 27 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely underweight. 10 percent are severely underweight. 10 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely wasted, or seriously below weight for one’s height, and an overwhelming 31 percent are moderately to severely stunted, or seriously below normal height for one’s age.


More efficient engines? How about a lot more engines?

Forinstance, the Chinese industrial miracle has raised 300 million Chinese out of poverty to join the 400 million who already were out. However, that still leaves 600 million Chinese working, hoping, and impatiently waiting to rise out of poverty too.

And what raises people from poverty? I’m sure more efficient engines are better in all ways, but to rise from poverty you need to be employed productively. Increased productivity requires increased consumption of power, and the only way China can meet its burgeoning power needs is by burning coal.

Specifically, by bringing one new coal-burning generating plant large enough to power San Diego on line every ten days.

Insulating buildings? By now aren’t you getting the impression that the easy salvation of the world from global warming is actually only considering changing the evil environmental ways of the developed world?

Apparently it will come as news to the team of experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we of the developed world are not the only game in town. Of course we could eat less. A lot of us are too fat anyway.

It would be easy for us to use more efficient engines. We’re doing that already, and replacing equipment is already part of our routine to increase productivity and reduce costs of production.

Since we heat and air condition almost all of our buildings, both businesses and residences, insulating them makes sense. In fact, it makes so much sense that we’ve already been doing it for a very long time. We have consistently added insulation to old buildings, and zoning regulations demand appropriate insulation in all new construction.

I would hazard an observation that in terms of insulating buildings, and improving engine efficiency, we of the developed world have already reached the point of diminishing returns, and that increasing our insulation and engine standards will only bring small increases in energy savings.

In the developing world, I’m sure that their new construction will be well insulated, and new engines will be efficient, because that makes economic sense. But I’m also certain that a lot of new buildings will be constructed, and no matter how well insulated, will require more energy to operate than was needed before they were built.

And a lot more engines will be in use.

The net effect of increased productivity in the developing world will be an enormous increase in energy consumption, and that will be satisfied in the relevant future by burning fossil fuels and increasing, not decreasing, greenhouse gases.

Along with increased productivity will come increased food production, and guess what? More greenhouse gases.

However, according to the team of experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cutting emissions will be easy. I would agree, if I only looked at the developed world, and assumed that the inhabitants of the developing world would wait.

They’ve already waited a long time to have long and comfortable lives like we do in the developed world.

Why not tell them to wait a few more lifetimes?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Senator Reid to Main Stream Media – “Cover Our Asses!”

Add the New York Times and Washington Post to ABC News as other news agencies that can’t get a simple news story right. Or won’t get it right, perhaps because the truth of the matter is something they’re trying to avoid.

“After Rush Limbaugh referred to Iraq war veterans critical of the war as ‘phony soldiers,’ he received a letter of complaint signed by 41 Democratic senators,” was the lead sentence in Dems' letter to Limbaugh fetches $2.1 million, by Stephanie Strom, New York Times (via the San Francisco Chronicle, of course).

The Washington Post story, Limbaugh Spins Reid's Letter Into Charity Gold, by Neely Tucker, reported the letter signed by 41 Democrat senators was “lambasting the syndicate's Rush Limbaugh, who had recently criticized U.S. troops who were against the war in Iraq.”

Near the end of its report, the New York Times noted: “Limbaugh has said that he was referring only to one soldier, who was critical of the war and had served only 44 days in the Army, never seeing combat.”

The Washington Post read more like an anti-Limbaugh editorial than a news report and didn’t mention that Rush’s remark referred to only one former soldier. In fact, all major media news reports I have seen to date don’t include anything about what Rush actually said, only that the Democrat senators’ letter said he called soldiers who were against the war in Iraq “phony soldiers.”

How difficult is it to find out what Rush actually said?

And of course, what did he actually say?

It is amazingly simple to find out what Rush actually said. The recordings and transcripts of his show are posted daily to his website, and archived for posterity.

Even I, with my very limited resources and lack of journalistic training and experience, was able to find what he said, and when he said it, in a matter of a minute or less.

I was able to find that everything started with a Morning Update Rush broadcasted on 25 September 2007 about a true phony soldier, Jesse MacBeth, who was recently sentenced to five months in prison and three years probation for falsifying his military records. He had been critical of the war in Iraq, had spoken out against it, and had recounted witnessing atrocities committed by American soldiers against Iraqi civilians while he served in Iraq. Unfortunately for him, and for the Left who showcased him and his stories, very little of what he said was true.

It was true he had been in the Army – for 44 days, just enough time to wash out of Boot Camp, and not enough time to be trained and deployed to Iraq, be promoted to corporal, and witness all sorts of atrocities.

In other words, his service and testimony were hauntingly similar to many of John Kerry’s “Winter Soldiers,” who testified to witnessing atrocities in Vietnam without inconveniencing themselves by actually serving there, and sometimes without any military service at all.

Do you remember “Air Force Captain” Al Hubbard, at one time executive director of the Vietnam Veterans against the War and John Kerry’s right-hand man?

Interestingly, ABC News had reported on phony soldiers and Operation Stolen Valor only two days before Rush made his remark, and phony soldier Jesse MacBeth was part of the report.

Have you heard of former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey? You probably haven’t heard much about him lately, but not long ago the Associated Press couldn’t feature him enough to satisfy the Left’s need for details about American soldiers’ atrocities against Iraqi civilians. But then Massey was found to be a total liar, and suddenly there was deafening silence from the AP about Massey.

Remember Micah Ian Wright? He fooled the Washington Post, Kurt Vonnegut, and his publisher, Seven Stories Press, all of whom I suspect were willing accomplices to being fooled by a phony soldier. Fortunately real Army Rangers were able to recognize and expose his falsehoods.

How about Josh Lansdale? Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and retired General Wesley Clark wish you would cleanse him from your minds, like they quickly did from their ad campaigns when the truth of Lansdale’s service came out.

Or Amorita Randall? The New York Times is certainly working hard to forget her.

From what little research I’ve done, ably assisted by Michelle Malkin’s blog, it is obvious that Rush had plenty of phony soldiers to criticize, and not surprisingly these phony soldiers have all been featured by Democrat senators – John Kerry, Claire McCaskill, et al – and liberal news agencies – New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News, ad nauseum – anxious to smear Rush and any other conservatives who have consistently both supported the soldiers and the Iraq War.

Ironically, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), phony soldier, was one of the signers of the Limbaugh letter.

During his service in the Navy, Harkin told Washington Post reporter David Broder:

One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaissance support missions. I did no bombing.” But as the late Senator Barry Goldwater (R.-Arizona) was first to notice, nothing in Harkin’s military service file showed that he ever served in Vietnam. Challenged by Goldwater, an Air Force General, to explain why he was awarded neither the Vietnam Service Medal nor the Vietnam Campaign medal (decorations given to everyone who served in the Southeast Asian theater), Harkin changed his story. Harkin claimed that he instead had flown combat sorties over Cuba during the 1960s.

This was another Harkin lie. Harkin actually served as a ferry pilot who flew aircraft in need of repair between the Philippines and his base in Atsugi, Japan. Harkin at last acknowledged that he never flew air patrols in Vietnam. He began describing himself in speeches as “a Vietnam era veteran.”

John Kerry, phony Cambodian invader – who can forget his classic:

I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me.

Kerry earlier had told a Boston Herald editor:

I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.

Not even John Kerry believes his story anymore, and has changed it several times since.

Rush was right. The Democrats keep trotting out phony soldiers and their phony stories, and then get some of them to sign stupid letters.

Fortunately for them they can trust the Main Stream Media to cover their miserable butts.

John Kerry and Tom Harkin. Does Operation Stolen Valor know about these two?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rush Limbaugh and the 41 Fools

I used to be shocked when a news agency got a story wrong (I began college as a journalism major, and then changed when I found I would be some editor's lowly slave). Now I’m surprised if a news agency seems to get one right.

ABC News rarely surprises me.

The latest is their reportage on the letter signed by 41 Democrat senators condemning Rush Limbaugh for using the phrase “phony soldiers.” As most Americans now know because of extensive coverage on the Drudge Report, Rush has auctioned the letter on EBay for $2,100,100, has matched its selling price, and quoting the ABC News item: “All proceeds from the auction of the letter will go the Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation, which distributes aid to the families to the children (sic) of fallen Marines on behalf of law enforcement officers.”

(I included the above quote to illustrate that with all its layers of editors and fact checkers, ABC News can’t even catch obvious typos. Anyone with a brain would recognize that the phrase in the above sentence should be corrected to read “to the children of the families of fallen Marines,” not “to the families to the children of fallen Marines”)

The first major thing ABC got wrong was crediting the Democrats with raising the funds for charity. According to ABC News:” No mater (sic) what, Democrats are going to make a ton of money for a charity off their political vitriol.”

All the Democrats did was write the dumb and ill-advised letter, which Rush then exploited by auctioning it to raise money for charity, and then by pledging to match whatever price it drew. Rush then smeared it in by challenging the 41 Democrat senators to join him in matching his charitable contribution.

Let’s see. $2,100,100 divided by 41 comes out to $51,222 per Democrat senator. Hillary could cover that with the interest she earned on illegal political contributions from Norman Hsu – or Johnny Chung, or Johnny Huang, for that matter – before she donated them to charity.

Or from the over $380,000 coerced in one Democrat fundraiser from the least-affluent residents of New York’s Chinatown, busboys, waiters, and dishwashers, in an area known best for its gritty poverty.

One more example of the Democrats China connection, and their donors don’t expect nothing for something.

What have they been promised?

Apparently the way Democrats raise money for charity is to accept illegal political contributions, then if they’re caught donate them to charity.

Probably to Air America, which needs all the charity it can get.

Of course, ABC News got the main point of their story totally wrong, probably because their main source of news for their story, the Democrats, got their part totally wrong.

Again, ABC News reported: “For their part, Democrats sent a letter calling for Rush Limbaugh to be reprimanded for calling soldiers who opposed the war ‘phony soldiers.’”

One obvious thing ABC News could have done if they had a “nose for news” is to check on what Rush actually said that pushed a button causing 41 Democrat senators to take the unusual step of writing to his organization demanding he be reprimanded.

When I was a Freshman journalism major at Humboldt State College, Arcata, California, in 1960, my tyrannical editor told me that I always had to get the other side of the story. Even if it was a pack of lies, it would still make my story, if nothing else, more interesting. And it just might expose flaws from only reporting one side that would prove embarrassing when they later came to light.

I wonder where ABC News reporters learned journalism?

If ABC News, or 41 Democrat senators, wanted to truly learn the “other side of the story,” Rush made it easy for them. All he has said, and its chronology, is readily available on his website, www.rushlimbaugh.com. Or just click here.

If you don’t want to believe Rush’s written transcript of his show, you can listen to the actual broadcasts and the actual words said in context and chronological order. Forinstance, the incident that started it all occurred in a Rush “Morning Update” broadcast the morning of 25 September 2007:

The anti-war left has its celebrities, and one of them was "Army Ranger" Jesse MacBeth. Now, what made the 23-year-old "corporal" a hero to the anti-war crowd was not his Purple Heart or his being afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

No -- what made "Army Ranger" Jesse MacBeth a hero to the left was his "courage," in their view, off the battlefield. Without regard to consequences, he told the world the abuses he said he had witnessed in Iraq. American soldiers killing unarmed civilians -- hundreds of men, women, and even children. In one gruesome account, translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet, MacBeth describes the horrors this way: "We would burn their bodies... hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque."

Recently Jesse MacBeth, the poster boy for the anti-war left, had his day in court. He was sentenced to five months in jail [and] three years' probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim; his Army discharge record, too. Yes, Jesse McBeth was in the Army. Briefly. 44 days. Before he was washed out of boot camp. MacBeth is not an Army Ranger; he is not a corporal; he never won the Purple Heart; he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen.

But don't look for retractions, folks -- not from the anti-war left, the anti-military Drive-By Media, or the Arabic websites that spread his lies about our troops. Fiction serves their purposes; the truth, to borrow a phrase, is inconvenient to them.

Then on Wednesday, September 26, 2007:

Rush takes a call from an Army soldier who laments, "[W]hat's funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media," to which Rush adds: "The phony soldiers." The caller repeats the phrase and continues with his point. After respectfully letting him finish, Rush explains for those in the audience the phenomenon of "phony soldiers" like Jesse MacBeth, a darling of the anti-war left exposed as a total fraud who never served and never was in Iraq.

Then Media Matters jumped in, and selectively reported what Rush said. In place of the phony soldier, Jesse MacBeth, that Rush made the topic of his Morning Update, and discussed with a caller the next day, Media Matters changed the context and reported that Rush was talking about soldiers who disagreed with the Iraq War.

My challenge to any and all who doubt Rush’s proclamation about what he said, and about what Media Matters reported, is to go to Rush’s website and read and/or listen to what he said and when, and then compare that to what Media Matters reported.

Then, of course, the Democrat Senate Brain Trust got their Media Matters update, and made total asses of themselves (shameless redundancies are noted here).

And now ABC News, divorcing themselves of any claim to being practitioners of professional journalism, reported the Democrats are responsible for raising the charitable donation. In their total lack of journalistic curiosity, it never dawned on ABC News to wonder why Rush would chose to publicize the issue if the Democrats were in the right.

By the way, I’m a retired Air Force Major. My oldest son is a Nevada National Guard Master Sergeant, who served a tour in Iraq, stationed at Abu Ghraib, and in Haiti, Guantanamo, and ten years in Germany. My middle son is an Air Force veteran drawing disability payments from the VA for an injury while working on an aircraft.

I write the above to put the following statement in context.

If I believed Rush said what Media Matters and 41 Democrat senators have accused, I would be the loudest voice demanding his apology. However, I have listened to the broadcast, read the transcript, and know first hand that Rush is right, and his opponents are either liars, idiots, or both.

You listen and decide.

The truth will set you free, unless you’re a Democrat.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tell Me Another Morning

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Several months ago I read Tell Me Another Morning, First Paris Press edition, 2007, by Zdena Berger. It was easily one of the best novels I had ever read.

I immediately added a five-star review to Amazon.com:


"Tell Me Another Morning" must be read as a companion piece to "Diary of Anne Frank." Anne's story ended when her family was discovered and dispersed to concentration camps. Tania (Zdena Berger) tells the story Anne couldn't, the struggle of a young girl and two friends to survive in the camps under the most impersonal and banal evil mankind is capable of inflicting. Our dramas are populated with monsters in human form expending great energy and taking huge enjoyment in dispensing evil. We are fascinated as they revel in horror. Zdena Berger shows us the other, more chilling face of evil. Tania faced one wholly different and vastly greater, the evil of indifference of one human to the humanity of another, multiplied thousands of times.


Towards the end it is shocking that the faceless guards pull a cruel joke by adding glass to the prisoners' bread, because until that point the guards seemed too indifferent to suffering to take any pleasure in causing or even noticing it. The three friends, Ilse, Eva, and Tania, grew during their trials, drawing strength and gaining character as their oppressors shrank into pitiful caricatures. Clearly none of them could have survived without the others, as each did small, selfless acts at times that helped her friends to find strength and courage to go on.


Once, after charming chocolate from male prisoners, Ilse gave it all to Eva and led Tania in pretending that they were sharing it so that Eva did not know she had the only piece.


"Tell Me Another Morning" is painstakingly crafted, and fills a high position on my personal list of best books. It is Zdena's only book, and her story is a classic for all times and should never again be allowed to go out of print.


I will never forget the friendship and courage of Tania, Eva, and Ilse, and I encourage all to join them on their immortal quest, powered by hope, to rekindle humanity from the ashes of indifference.



Alice and her book club met in our house today to discuss Tell Me Another Morning. Its author, Zdena Berger (Price), is a book club member and attended. Zdena was born in Czechoslovakia in 1925, and like almost all Czechoslovakian Jews, was forced into a concentration camp in 1941. Although Zdena’s father, mother, and brother were killed in the camps, Zdena and two friends survived and were freed during the summer of 1945. Zdena wrote an autobiographical novel based on her experiences in 1958 after she moved to the United States. Her book, the only one she has written, was first published in 1961, and was recently republished by a publisher that rightly considers it an overlooked gem.

Earlier this year Zdena presented excerpts from her book at a well-attended reading at our Gualala independent book store, The Four-Eyed Frog.

Joel Crockett, who with his brother Jeremy owns and operates The Four-Eyed Frog, was to join me at the meeting as the only male guests of Alice’s club. We were there to be decorative, seen but not heard. However, Joel had to cancel at the last minute to fill in for a sick employee, so I ended up the only thorn in a bed of roses.

Actually, I was a very useful irritant. Alice has been very weak from bronchitis since returning from our China trip, so I jumped in and made coffee, put out cups and silverware, greeted the arrivals, and etc. Buddy Doggy helped with the greetings. Buddy loves people, and people love Buddy.

I sat in the back to listen, and enjoyed the questions put to Zdena about writing her book, what she was thinking at various stages, and why she wrote a biographical novel instead of a memoir.

The answer to the last question comes first, because in truth, Zdena knew that would be the first question, no matter what the group, so she answered it unasked.

She wrote Tell Me Another Morning as a biographical novel to focus and dramatize her themes of friendship and survival. I totally agree with her assertion that she couldn’t have done that with a straight autobiographical memoir, which would have just been added to the piles of Holocaust memoirs, each important and significant, but also lacking the lyricism and narrative intensity of Zdena’s book, and its ability to communicate emotional truth.

I only interjected myself into the discussion one time. A woman asked Zdena, with the problems at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, didn’t she see a link with her experiences in the concentration camps? Zdena politely answered she didn’t, that combating terrorism was different than killing members of racial and religious groups.

Left unsaid was that the concentration camps practiced systematic murder of innocents, and that the camps for terrorists were to imprison fighters suspected of murdering or intending the murder of innocents (conversely, systematic murder seems to happen quite often in the prison camps run by Al-Qaeda and friends).

At this point I added my only comment to the discussion: “Even trying to link our imprisonment of terrorists with the concentration camps only serves to trivialize the Holocaust.”

Later I wanted to ask Zdena a question, but I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to intrude on the book club members. However, maybe there is something to mental telepathy, because soon after I formed my question in my mind, a woman sitting nearby asked it for me.

“Zdena, do survivors feel guilt, that everyone else was killed, and they survived? Do they ask themselves, ‘Why me?’”

Zdena replied that it was a complex question to answer, but that survivors do have to deal with feelings of guilt.

The book club adjourned, and Buddy and I did a superb job of cleaning up and seeing the ladies off.



Book Review from Amazon.com:


From Publishers Weekly


First published in 1961, this haunting autobiographical novel retraces Berger's experiences in Terezin, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Teenage narrator Tania's shame at having to wear the yellow star turns into a sense of solidarity with her fellow Jews in Prague. In Terezin, she contemplates losing her virginity and watches helplessly as the Nazis clean up the camp to fool Red Cross inspectors. At Auschwitz, Tania sees the crematorium where her brother's body was burned, her friend Ilse trades sex for survival, and her aging father sells his sweater to make his daughter a present of sugar cubes. When Tania and her mother are selected for slave labor at Bergen-Belsen, which could prolong their lives, her mother chooses to stay and die with her husband and Tania bids them an agonizing farewell. Berger's heart-wrenching novel is an early eyewitness account of the holocaust, and this welcome reissue deserves a wide audience, particularly in high school and college curriculums.
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"I love this book from beginning to end. It is a classic."-Ernest J. Gaines


This autobiographical novel depicts a teenage girl's experience in the Nazi concentration camps. As in The Diary of Anne Frank, Tania's youthful concerns are interwoven among accounts of extremity: her brother's murder, her mother's choice to stay with her father and die in the gas chamber rather than be transported to another camp, the saving friendships Tania develops, her relationships with young men and the guards. Throughout the novel we see claustrophobic uncertainty, grief, terror, exhaustion, and Tania's sustaining hope. Her return to Prague after the war is unforgettable and devastating, as she observes people wearing "normal" clothes, eating ice cream, and traveling on buses between work and home. There is no judgment, only the reality of two worlds existing simultaneously.

Zdena Berger was born in 1925 in Prague, where she lived until the Nazi occupation. She spent the war years as a prisoner of Terezin, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. After the liberation of Bergen-Belsen in 1945, Berger returned to Prague to complete her education, and then lived in Paris for nearly a decade. She immigrated to San Francisco in 1955 and now lives with her husband in the Bay Area. Tell Me Another Morning is her only book.


(Update: Today at the book club meeting, Zdena commented that, after liberation, her friends referred to her as "the last virgin in Europe."

Zdena and her husband George live on The Sea Ranch, south of Gualala, here on the beautiful and peaceful Northern California coast.

The following is an interview with Zdena published recently in The Sea Ranch Soundings.)

A Conversation with Zdena Price, by Pam Boeke

Zdena, I remember when we first met here at Sea Ranch almost 20 years ago. It was at a book group meeting, and as I listened to you talk I thought what an unusually in­telligent, elegant woman you were. I wanted to get to know you—to be your friend. And that has happened.

You were open and generous in sharing your amazing past with me: how you lost your family in Auschwitz; how the British liber­ated you from Bergen Belsen in 1945, how you literally came to life in Paris in the early 1950s, had the good fortune to come to Cali­fornia in 1955 and meet George Price, your future husband. After many years in San Francisco, where George taught English literature at San Francisco State, and you worked at the Jung Institute, you two retired to The Sea Ranch.

This spring the book you wrote about your experiences in the camps, Tell Me Another Morning, first published in 1961, has been republished by Paris Press, a non­profit independent press which specializes in publishing neglected or misrepresented literature by ground-breaking women writers. The republication has received wide acclaim, and has had major reviews in both The San Diego Union-Tribune and The Los Ange­les Times.

I first read Tell Me Another Morn­ing in 1995 when you loaned it to me. I could not put it down. I re­member finishing it at 3:00 in the morning, thinking how privileged I was to know you and how the world was a better place for you having written your story. At that time I remember telling you this book should be republished. You, in your usual strong and humorous voice, said "Oh no, that won't hap­pen." Well, it has.

The German philosopher, Theodor Adorno, pronounced famously that "to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Nevertheless, from the Nuremberg trials to the pres­ent, there's been a keen demand for memoirs, fiction and movies based on survivors' stories. Those who survived are like the rest of us -- and yet not.

Zdena, tell me why you wrote this autobiographical novel?

"I grew up in Prague and in 1941 and at the age of 16, was deported with my family to the concentration camp I wrote my novel to make a truthful and powerful statement about the life in concentration camps from the perspective of a teenage girl -- which had not been done. I wanted to convey growing up in that atmosphere. "

Many powerful books, both fiction and nonfiction, have been written about the holocaust. What is unique about yours?

"The only way I could tell my story was to write a novel -- rather than memoir. For me fiction served as extension of memory. And I believe that truth is not only in day-to-day facts. There is truth in fiction, emotional truth. Writing the novel of­fered me an opportunity to explain the experience of girls growing up and coming of age in the camps. I wanted to convey growing up in that atmosphere. The relationship between three girls coming of age in the camps is very unusual and the core of the novel. I've always thought that none of us would have survived if we didn't have each other."

"By writing a novel I could shape certain experiences that did not -- at the time -- have a beginning, a mid­dle, and an end. Survival and friend­ship are the theme of the book. At the start of the novel, Tania, the teenage narrator and her family live in a state of denial even as coming events cast huge shadows into the present."

"In the middle section, after trans­port to a camp, Tania, having lost her family, creates a new family with two teenage girls. The inter­twining relationships -- the way they share resilience and ingenuity--become tools of survival."

"What I learned, writing Tell Me Another Morning, is that within the confines of our imprisonment - Ta­nia, Ilse and Eva make choices, and even the smallest ones -- sharing an apple rather that eating it alone, helped the girls, helped me survive. Without my friends, without each other, we would have perished."

"Writing the novel allowed me to focus on individual moments, in­dividual lives -- in the anonymity of collective misery. I could see beyond the narrow view of the nar­rator and transform the too painful facts into something larger, something that actually included and offered hope. I searched for truth through fiction and found meaning, which has helped me to live with my past, to live in the present."

Students may study this book, and readers in book discussion groups will talk about it. What two or three things would you hope stay with these readers after reading your book?

"I hope readers understand that it was possible to survive with dignity. And that the friendship between the girls was truly saving -- there was tenacity and there was tenderness between them, and they know they have to support each other without ever talking about it"

Who have been your favorite writers throughout your life?

"Flaubert, Balzac, Emily Dickinson, Hemingway, Anthony Powell, Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Bowen, Henry James, Camus, Colette."

Elie Wiesel talks about bearing witness; he says, "Never forget." Simon Wiesenthal said, "For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing." Anne Frank said, "In spite of everything that has hap­pened, I still believe that people are really good at heart." What do you say?

"One has to believe that people are basically good because otherwise you would not be able to go on. There is a constant battle between the forces of good and evil. We have to hope that the good will prevail eventually."

Thank you, Zdena, for our conver­sation.

For the record, Zdena is an avid swimmer, reader, cook, hiker and bon vivant.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hillary - Government Created Outcomes

Answer all the questions before looking at the answers.

Who said it?

1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." A. Karl Marx B. Adolph Hitler C. Joseph Stalin D. None of the above

2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few...... And to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity." A. Lenin B. Mussolini C. Idi Amin D. None of the above

3) "(We) ...can't just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people." A. Nikita Khrushev B. Josef Goebbels C. Boris Yeltsin D. None of the above

4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own ... in order to create this common ground." A. Mao Tse Dung B. Hugo Chavez C. Kim Jong-Il D. None of the above

5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed." A. Karl Marx B. Lenin C. Molotov D. None of the above

6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched." A. Pinochet B. Milosevic C. Saddam Hussein D. None of the above

Scroll down for answers







Answers
(1) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/29/2004
(2) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 5/29/2007
(3) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(4) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(5) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(6) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 9/2/2005

"Tyranny takes many forms. The redistribution of wealth from those that earned it to those that want it is the Democrat's favorite form, since those that want it vote for those who promise to give it to them." (Statement was made by Major Mike, 10/16/2007)

"The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money."---Alexis de Tocqueville

And then we have:

"There is no greater force for economic growth than free markets. But markets work best with rules that promote our values, protect our workers and give all people a chance to succeed," she said. "Fairness doesn't just happen. It requires the right government policies."

"Hillary Clinton Says Shared Prosperity Should Replace 'On Your Own' Society," read the headline about a speech Hillary gave at the Manchester School of Technology.

"Clinton also said she would help people save more money by expanding and simplifying the earned income tax credit; create new jobs by pursuing energy independence; and ensure that every American has affordable health insurance."

There the Democrats go again. It's the old "replace equality of opportunities with equality of outcomes" time again.

It's also "pick on corporations" time again. Clinton said she would reduce special breaks for corporations, eliminate tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas and open up CEO pay to greater public scrutiny.

Beyond the fact that corporations just pass taxes along to us, the ultimate consumer, as a part of their cost of goods, the issues she brought up are tiny to the point of insignificance in the context of the gargantuan United States economy.

Democrats are still following their mantra, "Fooling all of the foolish, all of the time."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Our Income Taxes Are Not Progressive

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Progressive?

The claim we have progressive income taxation has been accepted with no thought given to whether it is true.

It isn’t. Although the wealthy are paying a larger share of total income taxes than ever, they are also wealthier than ever, and Liberals are constantly whining about the growing wealth gap. Far from being progressive, income taxes discourage savings and the accumulation of wealth, and place obstacles in the path to closing the wealth gap. It’s easy to maintain wealth, hard to accumulate it.

To begin, what makes an income tax progressive? The probable answer is that the higher the income, the higher the tax rate. The intent of progressive taxation is to have the wealthy carry the tax load, because: “They should pay their fair share. They need to give back. They receive the greatest benefits. Yada, yada & Etc.”

Because of the “progressive” nature of our income tax system, the wealthy make a lot of tax lawyers and accountants wealthy too by paying them to devise ways to beat high taxes. Even government has leaped into the tax avoidance business, by promoting schemes like tax-free municipal bonds.

Since the top 5% in terms of adjusted gross income pay 57% of income taxes (the top 5% share of the total has increased steadily, up from 37% in 1980 when the top tax brackets were at 70%), and the bottom 50% pay only 3% of the total (less than half of the 7% they paid in 1980).

You can see by the trend, the wealthy need all the help they can buy to avoid fulfilling the Democrat’s dream of wealthy Republicans eventually paying all the income tax. As it is, almost half of our “taxpayers” no longer pay any taxes to the IRS.

Thanks to the Internet, you can also easily find entire nations that provide tax avoidance services, offering off-shore banking in British Virgin Islands, Belize, Dominica, Seychelles, Panama and Gibraltar, and in other less favored states.

As is usual, the unwealthy need not apply.

Can an income tax be regressive? Look no farther than FICA (Social Security) and Medicare payroll taxes for the answer, a resounding “Yes!” The FICA and Medicare rates are the same for all, and FICA is paid equally on the first dollar earned up to the 94,200th dollar, after which the marginal rate is zero. Therefore, the total FICA tax rate for someone earning $188,400 falls to 6.2 percent, exactly half the 12.4 percent rate for anyone earning $94,200 or less. (You do realize your "employer contribution" comes out of your wages too, don't you? It's a sneaky way politicians try to make you think you're only paying 6.2 percent into Social Security. If you were self-employed, you would know you pay 12.4 percent into Social Security, and 2.9 percent into Medicare.)

The total FICA tax rate continues to fall once taxable wages pass $94,200. For example, for someone earning $376,400, the tax rate is only 3.1 percent. At $752,800, it falls to 1.55 percent, or almost half of the 2.9 percent Medicare tax. Get the picture?

FICA is also regressive because it discourages savings and wealth accumulation. The 12.4 percent of income paid into Social Security earns at about a 2 percent rate, less than the rate of inflation. After a lifetime paying into FICA, mortality tables show the average black male will die just about the time he would collect his first check at about 66 years of age. He will probably be unmarried when he dies, so his Social Security benefits will cease with his last breath. The return on his working lifetime investment is worse than 0.00%, which would be the return if someone was paid what he put in. No, his return on investment is a negative 100 percent (-100%).

Opponents of privatized Social Security accounts don’t spend much time on this feature of the present system, or on the fact it goes bankrupt in 2018.

As added frosting on the wealthy’s tax avoidance cake, a person making a million dollars a year from investments only pays FICA at the 0.00% rate. If, following the example of Ross Perot, the million dollars was all income from tax-free municipal bonds, his federal income tax rate is also 0.00%. Therefore, the wealthy can legally pay FICA and income taxes at the same rate as the drug dealer, who pays none of either unless he is caught, arrested, and convicted, and then only if the government can then find where he stashed his loot (see British Virgin Islands, Belize, Dominica, Seychelles, Panama and Gibraltar), and then find someway to collect from it.

Lots of luck collecting, G-Men.

Not only FICA is regressive, but our “progressive” income tax system is too. It also discourages savings and wealth accumulation, by taking a portion of the income before it can be invested, and then taxing interest and profits which, during inflationary periods (i.e. most of the time), means the IRS is reducing your capital base.

Taxing both interest earned on investments and capital gains are particularly regressive and oppressive forms of taxation. In the first instance, interest usually doesn’t keep up with the rate of inflation, so taxing interest earned just adds to capital shrinkage.

On the other hand, capital investments usually increase with inflation, and often at a faster rate. However, that still means that most of the value of the asset is original cost plus inflation. If the value only goes up by the amount of inflation, and the asset is then sold, the investor has not made a profit, he has just gotten back the value of his original investment.

“Not so,” says the IRS. "You have made a profit, i.e. selling price – original cost = profit, and on that profit you will pay capital gains tax." In other words, your investment not only did not beat inflation, but after paying tax on the “capital gain,” you lost money. Such a deal! Courtesy of your IRS.

I am waiting for a Liberal to explain to me why a system of taxation that discourages savings and investment is considered “progressive.”

The most illogical and regressive part of income taxation is the double taxation of corporate profits. Corporations are taxed at a very high rate (basically 35%, with possible add-ons) when profits are earned, and then those profits are taxed to individuals when distributed as dividends.

Liberals have justified this double taxation by once again clothing it in the mantel of “fairness,” declaring that corporations must pay their fair share. Either through deceit or ignorance, the Liberals don’t admit that corporations don’t actually pay any income taxes, we who buy their products pay their taxes.

That’s right, when you’re calling for corporations to take on more of the tax load, what you are really demanding is government to tax us more. To a corporation, corporate income taxes are just another cost of business to be passed on to their customers along with the costs of labor, materials, and overhead.

When the government collects corporate taxes, it reduces the capital the corporation can use for investment. Therefore, instead of funding growth internally through increased retained earnings, the corporation has to replace the funds lost to corporate income taxes by borrowing.

I’ve heard many Liberals dispute this, but without demonstrating to me how corporations could pay their taxes unless they receive money from their customers when they sell them their products. Some have told me that corporations sell a lot to other corporations, and to government, as if that proved a human being was not the ultimate link in the tax paying chain.

For the accounting illiterate among you, I would like to explain that corporations who buy anything from anyone include those costs as material or overhead charges, and recover them through charges such as depreciation, amortization, professional services expenses (such as tax lawyers and accountants), & etc. The only time they “eat” the taxes instead of passing them on is when they are operating at a loss. However, at that point taxpayers subsidize their loss because tax law provides for corporations to carry losses back against prior period taxes paid, and then forward against subsequent year profits.

The bottom line is there is nothing progressive about “progressive” income taxation. It is an artifact created from class envy and taxpayer ignorance by legislators to fool taxpayers. While the taxpayers are gloating and celebrating how politicians have “socked it to” the wealthy and to the evil corporations, the politicians are gloating about how easy it is to fool ignorant and envious citizens and get their votes.

Meanwhile, instead of benefiting from the stronger and healthier economy that sensible taxation would promote, the taxpayer congratulates the politicians for distributing tax misery equitably.

Income taxation problems such as discouraging investment, wealth accumulation and savings, slowing economic growth, and placing American business at a competitive disadvantage in the world marketplace, would be solved by a national sales tax along the lines of the Fair Tax proposal.

Just as regressive income taxation has been called “progressive,” the progressive Fair Tax proposal has been labeled regressive.

Newspeak lives.

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