Friday, October 26, 2007

A Brit Who "Gets It" 

Today Gates of Vienna blog published a letter, the second in a series, from a British reader of theirs who calls himself "Seneca III. It is well worth the read, and some reflection afterwards.

The jihadists will only be able to have their way with us if we allow ourselves to rot from within. We don't have to forsake our values--we have to return to them.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007


Now that at least one of the SoCal fires has been determined to be the work of an arsonist, the hunt is on for the perp.

It would not surprise me if the culprit is an al-Qaeda sympathizer. With damage in San Diego County alone now estimated to exceed $1 billion, and with recent messages by OBL and the like calling on their followers to strike the US at home and abroad, the dots are too easy to connect.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

24 Oct Fire Report from North San Diego County 

It looks like we in Carlsbad are out of the woods unless there's some new fire. We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise and no smoke overhead. We could see smoke to the north and south, but there was a broad corridor of blue sky centered on us. Nice. Unfortunately since then the smoke has diffused and it pretty much covers the county. The sunlight has a warm amber tint, sort of like early sunset, but at midday, Last night the setting sun was a very deep tangerine orange going to blood red as it disappeared below the horizon. I'm sure artists would appreciate the lighting effects but I think it's unearthly. Winds here in Carlsbad are very light from the NW. The Santa Ana is definitely breaking down and the forecasters are predicting normal weather by Saturday. Even with that, it was pushing 90 degrees F. at 1300 and the earliest projected containment date that I've heard for any of the fires currently burning is 1 Nov.

The Witch Creek fire and the Poomacha fire have merged and the combined fire is burning northward towards Riverside County. The major action is now in the far northern part of the county (inland, except for the Horno fire--see below) and the far southern part of the county where the Harris fire is still threatening some populated areas. Go to and click on the latest map in the "news releases" box on the right for the official word. The map seems to be about 6 hours behind the real time reports on TV.

Many areas that were evacuated, especially those close to the City of San Diego, have been opened for repopulation. They're trying to get people out of the emergency shelter places like Qualcomm Stadium and the Del Mar fairgrounds and either back home or into some more permanent accommodations. The last I heard on the TV, still only one person had died as a direct result of the fire, but 4 or 5 others have died from indirect effects such as respiratory problems from the crappy air and heart attacks. I don't know how many injuries, but I think the number is still south of 200, most of them firefighters.

The Horno fire, wholly within Camp Pendleton Marine Base, started overnight. It was not on the news at 2200 last night, but by 0600 this morning I-5 was closed in both directions. It was open southbound by 0830 and in both directions by noon. Traffic was a mess in Oceanside this morning.

Everyone in the county, whether or not they have been directly threatened by the fire, has been affected by it. Last evening I took my dear daughter to her piano lesson in Oceanside, and the condo complex where the teacher lives had about twice its usual complement of cars. I took that as evidence that residents were putting up friends and family that had to evacuate. Inside the piano teacher's unit, besides, of course, the teacher and her piano, were two cots and three sleeping bags, and her young nephew, in addition to three students (including my daughter), two parents (including me) and a young friend of one of the other students whose family had been evacuated from their Rancho Santa Fe home. The other parent told me that a couple of houses on that kid's street had burned to the ground, but his house had survived.

The size and swiftness of these fires is unprecedented. The local firefighting establishment has been pretty much overwhelmed, so they early on decided to let the fires burn in open land and concentrate on saving homes and other structures. They've done a pretty good job, but not as successfully as they would have liked. One would hope that the post-mortem from this experience will result in at least as many improvements in techniques and organization as arose from the 2003 fires.

The economic effects of this fire will probably be felt for the next 3-4 years at least. I don't think we have enough construction tradespeople in the area to rebuild in less than that. Some people who had to evacuate were just finishing up rebuilding from the 2003 fires. I expect the powers that be will be taking some hard looks at the zoning and development laws and regs, but people will still build in danger areas, the same way they build along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Take your pick, fire or flood. Water is another issue. I've been saying for at least 20 years (my wife will vouch for me) that the ultimate limit on California's population and economy will be due to the scarcity of water. We will be cursed to live our lives in interesting times.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire Report from North San Diego County 

This is written as of 10:45 AM Tuesday, 23 Oct. I am happy to report that we are still in our home in southwest Carlsbad, but we are by no means out of danger. We received a voluntary evacuation notice yesterday about 2:30 PM, but we are in the far northwest corner of the designated area and were not in any imminent danger so long as the wind was blowing out of the northeast, so we stayed put, but we have our stuff packed and are prepared to bug out for as long as 3 days. Needless to say, all county schools are closed and many businesses are as well. Local government is asking people to stay home unless they are evacuating, so as not to clog roads for response vehicles. They're also asking people to restrict cellphone usage because the emergency agencies use the cellphone network as well as radio. Air quality sucks. We've been treated to the strong odor of smoke for two days, and I don't expect it to go away anytime soon. People are advised to stay indoors to the maximum extent possible.

The Witch Creek fire, which is the one that has put North County in peril, has burned in the neighborhood of 164,000 acres and is still only 5% contained. It started Sunday near the village of Santa Ysabel and has spread more than 20 miles west and south, destroying parts of Rancho Bernardo and Poway, and it is now threatening the village of Rancho Santa Fe and the cities of Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar, the latter three of which are right on the ocean. Encinitas and Del Mar extend inland a few miles, but Solana Beach is pretty much. There's another fire that started Sunday, the Harris fire, burning right along the Mexican border and it has consumed upwards of 30,000 acres. It is currently threatening the cities of Spring Valley and Chula Vista, as well as parts of Lemon Grove and El Cajon.

There are currently eight separate fires burning in San Diego County (which has about four times the area of the State of Rhode Island) and more than 300,000 people (about 10% of the county's population) have evacuated from their homes. They are being put up in places like Qualcomm Stadium, the Del Mar fairgrounds and many high schools and churches. Over 1000 homes have been destroyed by the fires. The only hope of containing these fires is for the Santa Ana wind conditions to dissipate and for the humidity to increase, which the weather folks say won't happen before Thursday, although it is blowing a lot less today than over the last two days.

Amazingly enough, the last I heard only one person has died as a result of these fires, and injuries are surprisingly (to me, at least) low as well--I believe fewer than 100.

If any of you are interested in following this in real time, I recommend the video stream at <http://www.10news.com/video/14036255/index.html>. You can also see a map at <http://www.sdcountyemergency.com/newsreleases/102307_0530_Evac_FirePerim.pdf> but it takes forever to load because a lot of people are accessing it and the server is having difficulty keeping up. I believe the map is updated 2 or 3 times a day.

This is a very big deal and will turn out to be much worse than the Cedar, Paradise and Otay fires of 2003, in which we actually had flames within two miles or so of our house. If any of you have experience with this kind of thing, you know that two miles can become zero miles in about 5 minutes if conditions are right, due to flying embers. Back then, we had ash falling like snow, but haven't seen that yet this time around. The local emergency services people learned a lot from that experience, and things are being handled much more smoothly.

I'll try to update as time goes on. If I "go dark" it'll mean we had to evacuate, and I am deskbound, cybernetically speaking.

UPDATE: 1630: Well, good news and bad news. The good news is that here in Carlsbad and in other coastal areas there has been a slight onshore flow today, i.e., westerly winds bringing moister air from over the ocean. This indicates that the Santa Ana condition is beginning to break down and lessens the danger to Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar.

The bad news is that there's a new fire that originated with a house fire on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, called the Poomacha fire, which is spreading towards Palomar Mountain, site of the famous observatory. This is not good because Palomar Mountain has a lot of dead trees on it due to insect infestation, and it hasn't burned, according to the TV folks, "in decades." The terrain is very rugged and there's little road access, so fighting any fire there will be extremely difficult.

Also the Witch Creek fire appears to be spreading north to join up with the Poomacha fire. And the Rice fire, which started near Fallbrook, is spreading northward toward Riverside County. According to the TV people, it is being fought just west of I-15 at Rainbow. One of the TV reporters is saying that there are still high winds at Ramona, near where the Witch Creek fire started, with gusts in the 60 mph range. This is not necessarily inconsistent with the onshore flow at the coast, but if all goes well the winds should gradually diminish inland as the Santa Ana dissipates.

The Harris fire is still going strong in the far south county, and the possibility of westerly winds adds a new dimension to fighting the fire, because the fire crews might have to relocate from the west side of the fire to the north or east side.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

S-Head Award V 

To Sen. Harry Reid (D-Mars) for taking credit for the funds raised by Rush Limbaugh auctioning off the infamous letter to Clear Channel Communications signed by Reid and dozens of his Democrat colleagues, asking that Limbaugh be kicked off the air. To paraphrase an old (decidedly non-PC) joke, "What do you mean "we," Senator?

I can't believe some of the lowlifes that run for public office in this country, and I'm aghast that some of them are actually elected.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Media and Gen. Sanchez 

The lamestream media are lobbying for a federal shield law that would give journalists (i.e., people engaged in journalism for financial gain or livelihood) a limited legal privilege against disclosing their sources. The reported House version of the bill is here. The bill (H.R. 2102) may come up for a vote in the House this week.

The media are arrogant and elitist; they are more and more frequently being challenged by independent fact checkers in the blogosphere and elsewhere, and they don't like it. Accordingly, they are very interested in establishing themselves as "more equal" than the general public and not coincidentally, in establishing a statutory (and exclusionary) definition of "journalist." The camel's nose under the tent, and all that.

I think the Members ought to consider the following before voting to give the media what in my opinion amounts to a license to lie and ruin reputations without practical accountability.

As many others have noted and commented upon, Ltg. (Ret) Ricardo S. Sanchez' speech of October 12 at the military reporters and editors luncheon in Washington led off with, and consisted in large part (approx. 40%) of, an excoriation of the lamestream media's reportage of the Iraq war.

Some of my favorite points:
In some cases I have never even met you, yet you feel qualified to make character judgments that are communicated to the world. My experience is not unique and we can find other examples such as the treatment of secretary brown during Katrina. This is the worst display of journalism imaginable by those of us that are bound by a strict value system of selfless service, honor and integrity. Almost invariably, my perception is that the sensationalistic value of these assessments is what provided the edge that you seek for self aggrandizement or to advance your individual quest for getting on the front page with your stories! As I understand it, your measure of worth is how many front page stories you have written and unfortunately some of you will compromise your integrity and display questionable ethics as you seek to keep America informed.


Over the course of this war tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media and by extension you the journalist. In many cases the media has unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved.


The basic ethics of a journalist that calls for:

1. Seeking truth,

2. Providing fair and comprehensive account of events and issues

3. Thoroughness and honesty

All are victims of the massive agenda driven competition for economic or political supremacy. The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war.


As I assess various media entities, some are unquestionably engaged in political propaganda that is uncontrolled. There is no question in my mind that the strength our democracy and our freedoms remain linked to your ability to exercise freedom of the press - I adamantly support this basic foundation of our democracy and completely supported the embedding of media into our formations up until my last day in uniform. The issue is one of maintaining professional ethics and standards from within your institution.

With the exception of Fox News, these remarks either were not reported at all or received only passing mention, as in the last paragraph of the Washington Post's story (link registration required).

It is true that Gen. Sanchez chastises the Bush Administration on how it has prosecuted the war and communicated with the American people, but the lamestream media were all too happy to report that part of the speech, so I won't repeat it here.

So my question is, are these the kind of people who deserve a special legal privilege against disclosing the sources of their information? I think not.

Journalism as an institution better do a lot more to keep its own skirts clean before they demand privileges that the rest of us don't enjoy. As it is, I don't trust the media any more than I would a deadbeat who says "the check's in the mail," a politician who says, "I'm here to help you," or an amorous young swain who's hoping he'll get lucky.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Sandy Berger and Hillary Clinton 

So Hillary's spokesperson says Sandy Berger has "no official role in the campaign," in response to GOP criticism following disclosure that the Clinton campaign was "taking advice" from Berger.

In 2005 Berger pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with his sneaking highly classified documents from the National Archive in his socks and underwear, and later destroying them. Prosecutors in that case said Berger only took copies and that the originals remained safe, but others say that nobody but Berger knows for sure what he took, or what if any original annotations were on the copies. As a result of his guilty plea Berger, who once was Bill Clinton's National Security Advisor, lost his security clearance for three years, and he voluntarily relinquished his law license rather than go through disbarment proceedings, in which he could have been cross-examined under oath about his actions.

I join Rep. Peter Hoekstra, (R-MI) in asking why Berger has any connection whatsoever with any candidate for President. Given his history, which involves other episodes besides the document theft case, I (gasp) question Berger's patriotism, not to mention his character.

I realize that Berger is a longtime friend of Bill and Hill, but they've been known to throw friends under the bus when it suited their purposes. Evidently they still hold Berger in high regard. I would not be surprised if Berger knows things that Hillary would just as soon not see the light of day, and she probably wants to keep him close. So close that I'm sure she has a job waiting for him as soon as she moves into the White House--a job that won't require the advice and consent of the Senate, but that will require his newly-reinstated security clearance.


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Thursday, October 04, 2007

S-Head Award IV 

This week's S-Head Award has to go jointly to Sens. Reid and Harkin, for claiming that Rush Limbaugh dissed all American military personnel on his radio program.

Except for Jack Murtha I can think of no politicians less qualified to make such an argument. Harkin once claimed to be a Vietnam veteran (as opposed to a Vietnam Era veteran) because he flew into Vietnam a couple of times, although he was never in-country for more than a day or two, if that long. Reid and Harkin both appear to be members of the contingent that believes the sole purpose of the armed forces is to appear in Fourth of July parades. They have both done everything they can to undermine and demoralize the Nation with regard to the Iraq campaign, all the while piously claiming to "support the troops."

Anybody who's ever listened to Limbaugh more than five minutes knows that Limbaugh has consistently, for years, supported "the troops" and their mission. However his words came out (and I will admit some ambiguity in the sound bite), taken in context it was crystal clear that Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" remark was referring to people like Micah Ian Wright, Jesse Macbeth and Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who have falsified their military records or experience in one way or another in order to enhance their credibility as antiwar activists.

Go here to read a fair account of what our soldiers are all about, and why people like Reid and Harkin are so corrosive to our national interests.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


It just occurred to me that if Hillary (or any other of the current Dem candidates) is elected President and Sarkozy and people like him remain in power in France, then in five or six years the US could be more like France ... than France!

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys arise!

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