CAUTION -- LANGUAGE WARNING
Watch out Kimba!
The New York Times has a lengthy interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for its Sunday magazine, but they have already published it to their website to generate a little buzz. They may get more than they think from this passage, in which Ginsburg explains what she thought the Supreme Court intended when it found a right to abortion in Roe (emphasis mine):
Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?
JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.
Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?
JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.
So Ginsburg thought the court wanted a method of eugenics that the government could use to reduce growth in certain …. populations … that we didn’t want expanding? No wonder she has occasionally admitted that Roe was a bad decision.
Bear in mind, too, that this explanation strongly implies that she held that view not just until she could get clarification by reading the decision or talking with the justices. Don’t forget that at the time Ginsburg had already made herself prominent in feminist circles, establishing in 1970 the first law journal exclusively devoted to feminist issues and holding a tenured position at Columbia from 1972-80. In fact, she argued cases before the Supreme Court during that period. And it wasn’t until 1980, which is when the Supreme Court decided McRae, that Ginsburg realized it didn’t have anything to do with allowing the government a mechanism to practice eugenics.
In that seven-year period, did Ginsburg use her considerable clout to argue against Roe, if that’s what she believed, or for that matter, against government funding of abortions? If not, shouldn’t we surmise from that silence that either (a) Ginsburg had few problems with government pushing a eugenics program, or (b) that she was willing to shrug off the eugenics in order to support Roe for the access to abortion? (h/t: WND)
Dennet's response amounted to this: Yes, Dr. Craig, your arguments are logically airtight and your premises are plausible, but that's not good enough anymore! If science has taught us anything, it's that our intuitions about plausibility aren't reliable.
Perhaps the security guards in this rather disturbing video would make some good recruits for Rick Warren’s coalition of peaceful “works” for God, no?
A Previous Import
A federal judge sided with the city of Dearborn on Thursday in a dispute with a Christian group over the distribution of religious literature during an upcoming Arab festival.William Becker, a lawyer for ACP said in a memo to Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch:
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied a motion from the California-based ministry, Arabic Christian Perspective, for a temporary restraining order that would have prohibited the city from restricting the group from handing out literature, according to a release from the group's attorneys.
no other citizen is ordered to restrict what he or she can say or hand to another person. This is content-based discrimination against a Christian group, whose mission is to peaceably bring the good news of salvation to people attending the Festival.Judge Edmunds (photo) is generally regarded as a staunch liberal, who often sides with the ACLU in most cases, and in defense of the rights of criminals over those victimized by crime. She's best known for having ruled in favor of a class action lawsuit brought by a New York-based Foster Care association against alleged abuse in Michigan's system. The group argued against placing foster children with relatives. The suit ended up costing the State millions.
ACP will now be treated as second-class citizens, forced to pass out their DVDs and booklets around the corner from the Festival, while other groups will be able to freely distribute their materials.
ACP is not there to criticize Muslims. They are there to do the good work of evangelizing, which might be perceived as threatening activity in a city boasting the highest per capita population of Muslims in the nation.
Three hours after arriving at the Kremlin yesterday, President Barack Obama signed a preliminary agreement on a new nuclear arms-control treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The agreement -- a clear road map for a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) -- commits the U.S. and Russia to cut their nuclear weapons to the lowest levels since the early years of the Cold War.
Mr. Obama praised the agreement as a step forward, away from the "suspicion and rivalry of the past," while Mr. Medvedev hailed it as a "reasonable compromise." In fact, given the range of force levels it permits, this agreement has the potential to compromise U.S. security -- depending on what happens next.
In the first place, locking in specific reductions for U.S. forces prior to the conclusion of the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review is putting the cart before the horse. The Obama administration's team at the Pentagon is currently examining U.S. strategic force requirements. Before specific limits are set on U.S. forces, it should complete the review. Strategic requirements should drive force numbers; arms-control numbers should not dictate strategy.
Second, the new agreement not only calls for reductions in the number of nuclear warheads (to between 1,500 and 1,675), but for cuts in the number of strategic force launchers. Under the 1991 START I Treaty, each side was limited to 1,600 launchers. Yesterday's agreement calls for each side to be limited to between 500 and 1,100 launchers each.
According to open Russian sources, it was Russia that pushed for the lower limit of 500 launchers in negotiations. In the weeks leading up to this summit, it also has been openly stated that Moscow would like the number of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles (SLBMS), and strategic bombers to be reduced "several times" below the current limit of 1,600. Moving toward very low numbers of launchers is a smart position for Russia, but not for the U.S.
Why? Because the number of deployed Russian strategic ICBMs, SLBMs, and bombers will drop dramatically simply as a result of their aging. In other words, a large number of Russian launchers will be removed from service with or without a new arms-control agreement.
The Obama administration will undoubtedly come under heavy pressure to move to the low end of the 500-1,100 limit on launchers in order to match Russian reductions. But it need not and should not do so. Based solely on open Russian sources, by 2017-2018 Russia will likely have fewer than half of the approximately 680 operational launchers it has today. With a gross domestic product less than that of California, Russia is confronting the dilemma of how to maintain parity with the U.S. while retiring its many aged strategic forces.
Mr. Medvedev's solution is to negotiate, inviting the U.S. to make real cuts, while Russia eliminates nothing that it wouldn't retire in any event.
This isn't just my conclusion -- it's the conclusion of many Russian officials and commentators. Russian Gen. Nikolay Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Missile Troops, was recently quoted by Moscow Interfax-AVN Online as saying that "not a single Russian launcher" with "remaining service life" will be withdrawn under a new agreement. Noted Russian journalist Pavel Felgengauer observed in Novaya Gazeta that Russian leaders "have demanded of the Americans unilateral concessions on all points, offering practically nothing in exchange." Precisely.
Beyond the bad negotiating principle of giving up something for nothing, there will be serious downsides if the U.S. actually reduces its strategic launchers as much as Moscow wishes. The bipartisan Congressional Strategic Posture Commission -- headed by former secretaries of defense William J. Perry and James R. Schlesinger -- concluded that the U.S. could make reductions "if this were done while also preserving the resilience and survivability of U.S. forces." Having very low numbers of launchers would make the U.S. more vulnerable to destabilizing first-strike dangers, and would reduce or eliminate the U.S. ability to adapt its nuclear deterrent to an increasingly diverse set of post-Cold War nuclear and biological weapons threats.
Accepting low launcher numbers would also encourage placing more warheads on the remaining ICBMs -- i.e., "MIRVing," or adding multiple independently targeted warheads on a single missile. This is what the Russians openly say they are planning to do. Yet the U.S. has long sought to move away from MIRVed ICBMs as part of START, because heavy MIRVing can make each ICBM a more tempting target. One measure of U.S. success will be in resisting the Russian claim that severely reducing launcher numbers is somehow necessary and "stabilizing." It would be neither.
Third, the new agreement appears to defer the matter of so-called tactical nuclear weapons. Russia has some 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons and many thousands more in reserve; U.S. officials have said that Russia has an astounding 10 to 1 numerical advantage. These weapons are of greatest concern with regard to the potential for nuclear war, and they should be our focus for arms reduction. The Perry-Schlesinger commission report identified Russian tactical nuclear weapons as an "urgent" problem. Yet at this point, they appear to be off the table.
The administration may hope to negotiate reductions in tactical nuclear weapons later. But Russia has rejected this in the past, and nothing seems to have changed. As Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences said recently in Moscow Interfax-AVN Online, "A treaty on the limitation and reduction of tactical nuclear weapons looks absolutely unrealistic." If the U.S. hopes to address this real problem, it must maintain negotiating leverage in the form of strategic launchers and weapons.
Fourth, Mr. Medvedev was quoted recently in RIA Novosti as saying that strategic reductions are possible only if the U.S. alleviates Russian concerns about "U.S. plans to create a global missile defense." There will surely be domestic and international pressure on the U.S. to limit missile defense to facilitate Russian reductions under the new treaty. But the U.S. need for missile defense has little to do with Russia. And the value of missile defense could not be clearer given recent North Korean belligerence. The Russians are demanding this linkage, at least in part to kill our missile defense site in Europe intended to defend against Iranian missiles. Another measure of U.S. success will be to avoid such linkages.
In short, Russian leaders hope to control or eliminate many elements of U.S. military power in exchange for strategic force reductions they will have to make anyway. U.S. leaders should not agree to pay Russia many times over for essentially an empty box.
Finally, Russian violations of its existing arms-control commitments must be addressed along with any new commitments. According to an August 2005 State Department report, Russia has violated START verification and other arms-control commitments in multiple ways. One significant violation has even been discussed openly in Russian publications -- the testing of the SS-27 ICBM with MIRVs in direct violation of START I.
President Obama should recall Winston Churchill's warning: "Be careful above all things not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure and more than sure that other means of preserving peace are in your hands." There is no need for the U.S. to accept Russian demands for missile-defense linkage, or deep reductions in the number of our ICBMs, SLBMs and bombers, to realize much lower numbers of Russian strategic systems. There is also no basis for expecting Russian goodwill if we do so.
Mr. Payne, a professor of defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University, is a member of the Perry-Schlesinger Commission, which was established by Congress to assess U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities. This op-ed is adapted from testimony given before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on June 24.
Just when you think you’ve heard every stupid thing a politician can say, Al Gore swoops in to the rescue. Faster than one can say Manbearpig, Gore tells an audience in Oxford that the fight against global warming needs the same kind of commitment that Winston Churchill demonstrated against the Nazis in World War II. Unfortunately, the only troops we see in this fight all wear green jackets:
Al Gore today compared the battle against climate change with the struggle against the Nazis.
The former US Vice President said the world lacked the political will to act and invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill by encouraging leaders to unite their nations to fight climate change. …
Speaking in Oxford at the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment , sponsored by The Times, Mr Gore said: “Winston Churchill aroused this nation in heroic fashion to save civilisation in World War II.”
He added: “We have everything we need except political will but political will is a renewable resource.”....
Two months ago I blogged that the Norwegian Army suspected that the ammunition used in their new H&K 416 rifles were making soldiers sicks. Chief of Staff Brig. General Rune Jakobsen initiated an investigation after Army HQ received three different reports about groups of soldiers getting sick after firing the new rifles. Symptoms included headaches, fever and joint pain. The investigation has determined that the soldiers were experiencing mild heavy metal poisoning caused by the “green” lead-free 5.56mm NATO ammunition manufactured by Nammo.
Norwegian solider with H&K 416
The report states that the gas exhausted from the rifles contained high levels of copper and zinc which account for all the symptoms suffered by the riflemen. A few, quite comical, short term solutions have been recommended. These include only shooting outside, slower rate of fire and spacing the shooters out more when at the range!
In 2003, under pressure from environmental groups and politicians the Army started using environmentally friendly ammunition. Since then they have had plenty of problems. The Norwegian ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops in Afghanistan were ordered to use the new ammo. The ammunition delivered either failed to fire or did not have enough energy to cycle the weapons. 300,000 rounds had to be dumped leaving the troops with no reserve ammunition. All the troops who did not need to leave the base had to hand in their ammunition so it could be distributed to those who needed it. The Army has also had to ban the green ammo from use in the MG3 machine guns because unspecified malfunctions occurred that could harmed the operators.
I found a powerpoint presentation on the internet made by Nammo in 2006 extolling the virtues of their green ammunition. Here are a few very ironic slides (I added the red arrows):
Recently it was determined that the “green” tungsten training ammunition used by the US Military could be toxic.
So in summery: don’t use green ammunition.
Many thanks to Daniel Watters of The Gun Zone for the research he did for this blog post.
Army Times editorial
March 4, 2002. An RPG tore into the right engine of an MH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with a quick-reaction force of Rangers in the Shahikot Mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The Chinook crashed atop Takur Ghar, a 10,000-foot peak infested with al-Qaida fighters.
Enemy fire poured into the fuselage, killing Rangers even before they got off the aircraft. Capt. Nate Self crawled out.
“As soon as I got off the ramp, a burst of rounds fired right over my head,” he recalled.
He joined a handful of his men in the open, exposed to enemy fire. An RPG exploded within a few feet of their position.
“We got up and started firing and moving to some boulders 15 meters away,” he said.
Once behind cover, Self tried to fire again, but his weapon jammed.
Instinctively, he tried to fix it with “immediate action,” a drill he’d practiced countless times.
“I pulled my charging handle back, and there was a round stuck in the chamber,” he recalled.
Like the rest of his men, Self always carried a cleaning rod zip-tied to the side of his weapon in case it failed to extract a round from the chamber.
“There was only one good way to get it out and that’s to ram it out with a cleaning rod,” he said. “I started to knock the round out by pushing the rod down the barrel, and it broke off. There was nothing I could do with it after that.”
The Rangers were fighting for their lives. Self left his covered position and ran under machine-gun fire to search for a working weapon.
“I just got up and moved back to the aircraft because I knew we had casualties there. I threw my rifle down and picked up another one.”
Self was awarded a Silver Star for his actions that day.
When even highly trained infantrymen like Self have problems with their M4 it is a sign there might be a problem with the weapon, not the soldier.
The problems had become obvious enough that at the time of the Afghanistan battle, members of the Army’s Delta Force had begun working on a solution. Today, Delta Force is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan with a special carbine that’s dramatically more reliable than the M16s and M4s that the rest of the Army dependsupon.
Members of the elite unit linked up with German arms maker Heckler & Koch, which replaced the M4’s gas system with one that experts say significantly reduces malfunctions while increasing parts life. After exhaustive tests with the help of Delta, the H&K 416 was ready in 2004.
Members of the elite commando unit — formally known as 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta — have been carrying it in combat ever since.
The 416 is now considered in many circles to be the best carbine in the world — a weapon that combines the solid handling, accuracy and familiarity of the M4 with the famed dependability of the rugged AK47.
For the foreseeable future, however, the Army is sticking with the M4 and M16 for regular forces.
The Army plans to buy about 100,000 M4s in fiscal 2008. For this large a buy, each M4 without accessories costs about $800, Colt Chief Executive Officer William Keys said. As part of the contract, though, each M4 comes with a rail system for mounting optics and flashlights, a backup iron sight, seven magazines and a sling — additions that raise the price for each M4 package to about $1,300, according to Defense Department budget documents.
The price of each 416 “will range anywhere from $800 to $1,425 depending on volume and accessories,” said H&K’s CEO John Meyer Jr.
To Col. Robert Radcliffe, the man responsible for overseeing the Army’s needs for small arms, the M16 family is “pretty damn good.” It’s simply too expensive, he said, to replace it with anything less than a “significant leap in technology.”
Since 2000, that leap centered on development of the XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon — a dual system featuring a 5.56mm carbine on the bottom and a 25mm airburst weapon on top, capable of killing enemy behind cover at 1,000 meters.
Seven years and more than $100 million later, the 18-pound prototype — three times the weight of an M4 — is still too heavy and bulky for the battlefield.
“We think that somewhere around 2010, we should have enough insight into future technologies to take us in a direction we want to go for the next generation of small arms,” said Radcliffe, director of the Infantry Center’s Directorate of Combat Developments at Fort Benning, Ga.
“We will have M4s and M16s for years and years and years and years,” he said.“We are buying a bunch of M4s this year ... and we are doing it for all the right reasons, by the way. It’s doing the job we need it to do.”
But many soldiers and military experts say this mind-set is off target now that soldiers are locked in a harsh desert war with no end in sight.
“We are not saying the [M4 and M16 are] bad,” said former Army vice chief of staff retired Gen. Jack Keane. “The issue for me is do our soldiers have the best rifle in their hands.”
Before retiring in late 2003, Keane launched a campaign to modernize individual soldier gear after ground troops fighting in Afghanistan complained that they were ill-equipped for the current battlefield. As part of that campaign, Keane backed another effort to give soldiers a better rifle — the XM8, a spinoff of the OICW — only to see it sink last year in a sea of bureaucratic opposition.
“If we are going to build the best fighters, and put the best tanks on the ground, don’t our soldiers deserve, absolutely hands down, the best technology for a rifle?,” Keane said. “Not good enough, but the best.”....