The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Eyes Wide Open

February 28th, 2005

I went to the ProtestWarrior counter-protest to the Eyes Wide Open event at Dallas City Hall today. Darrell Ankarlo had also organized a counter-protest, so the numbers were pretty lopsided. As near as I could tell, it broke down like this:

  • 10-15 Event Staff
  • About 5 EWS supporters
  • About 15 Police and Safety Patrol
  • 20-30 Media
  • 40-50 Protest Warriors and Ankarlo listeners

The police officer that I talked to agreed that it seemed to be about 100 people overall, and that is roughly what my numbers add up to. It was hard to tell who was PW and media at some points, but it was obvious that the numbers were lopsided.

The event was pretty trite. It was obviously well funded, but that is about it. The majority of the people around the EWO event were wearing event staff badges, so I’m assuming they were paid employees. There were a handful of other usual suspects, but no one was foaming at the mouth. (They might have just been short of critical mass.)

Some of our people were a little over the top, but no one got violent. The PW moved over to the podium when they had their hand picked fallen serviceman’s mother speak. When she was done, the PW demanded that the fallen serviceman’s mother on our side be allowed to speak. When they refused, a chant of “Let Her Speak” went up, but they were having none of that.

I was standing beside some of the event staff, and I could hear the guy talking to the guy on the podium. “They are trying to take over our event. They don’t have a permit. Don’t let them on the mic. This is our event. They need to go make their own event.” Gee. I thought it was the soldiers’ event, guys. Thanks for clarifying that for me.

Some of our people stood up and crowded the podium and blocked them from the cameras, and the police did the right thing and stepped in and moved our people back. (I think that it was counterproductive for people on our side to do that, and was glad that it was nipped in the bud.) From that point on, the police maintained a division, and they did so in a fair and professional manner. If you are them or know them, thank you for your service and professionalism.

It didn’t matter what he wanted, because as soon as our people gathered to speak, all the media came to us anyway. We said our part on the side, and they continued their program.

Overall, the thing that I remember most is what a production the whole thing was. There was a sizable amount of funding behind this. They transport all these boots, they have a lot of staff, they had a podium and mic and professional signs, and whole list of credits on the website. They spent a lot of money on this, while we spent almost nothing on it. I have to wonder: how much more good could have been done with this money if they had used it to buy all these shoes and send them to Iraqi children?

Timelines, oh we love timelines

February 24th, 2005

There has been aired on Iraqi television what purports to be a confession from a terrorist that he was trained and employed by Syrian Intelligence:

Iraqi state television aired a video yesterday showing what the U.S.-funded channel said was the confession of a captured Syrian officer, who said he trained Iraqi terrorists to behead people and build car bombs to attack American and Iraqi troops.

He also said the terrorists practiced beheading animals to train for decapitating hostages.

Later, Al Iraqiya aired another round of interviews with men it said were Sudanese and Egyptians who also trained in Syria to carry out attacks in Iraq.


In the first video, the man, identified as Lt. Anas Ahmed al-Essa of the Syrian intelligence service, said his group had been recruited to “cause chaos in Iraq … to bar America from reaching Syria.”

“We received all the instructions from Syrian intelligence,” Lt. al-Essa, 30, said on a video broadcast by state-run Al Iraqiya, which can be seen nationwide.

The first tape apparently was made in the northern city of Mosul, but no date was provided. It was not possible to authenticate the claims.

The State Department said they were looking into the report, but as of late yesterday, they could neither confirm nor deny the veracity of the broadcast or that a Syrian intelligence officer had been captured.

I’m waiting for more info before I accept this as true. There is lots of evidence to corroborate this, but what I really want to see corroborated is this:

“I was trained on explosives, killing, spying, kidnapping … and after one year, I went to Iraq with Fady Abdullah,” Lt. al-Essa said.

He said he infiltrated Iraq in 2001, about two years before the U.S. invasion, because Syrian intelligence was convinced American military action loomed.

The invasion was in March 2003. If he was there two years, then that puts him in Iraq in the spring of 2001, well before September 11, 2001. Even more damning, that means that he started training sometime in 2000 — well before the 9/11/01 attacks.

What did Syria know, and when did they know it?

Coulter and Gannon

February 24th, 2005

I’m not a big Ann Coulter fan (like liberals and Rall, I find her amusing, but I don’t think it is productive to hold her out as part of the message.) On her latest column, however (Republicans, bloggers and gays, oh my!) she is 100% spot on. I looked for the usual lies and hyperbole and found… none.

The heretofore-unknown Jeff Gannon of the heretofore-unknown “Talon News” service was caught red-handed asking friendly questions at a White House press briefing. Now the media is hot on the trail of a gay escort service that Gannon may have run some years ago. Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a website where I can go to and find out how the Democrats want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?

Reporter David Shuster then gave a report on “the phony alias Guckert used to play journalist” – as opposed to the real name Shuster uses to play journalist. (You can tell Schuster is a crackerjack journalist because he uses phrases like “phony alias.”) With all the subtlety of a gay-bashing skinhead, Matthews spent the rest of the segment seeing how many times he could smear Gannon by mentioning “HotMilitaryStuds.com” and laughing.

Any day now, Matthews will devote entire shows to exposing Larry Zeigler, Gerald Riviera and Michael Weiner – aka Larry King, Geraldo Rivera and Matthews’ former MSNBC colleague Michael Savage. As a newspaper reporter, Wolf Blitzer has written under the names Ze’ev Blitzer and Ze’ev Barak. The greatest essayist of modern times was Eric Blair, aka George Orwell. The worst essayist of modern times is “TRB” of The New Republic.

RTWT. The most damning criticism I can make about the whole situation is that the people conducting the witchhunt are so over the top that Ann Coulter can’t find anything to exagerate for effect. That is sad.

The Why Behind the Whats of Secrecy

February 23rd, 2005

Michelle Malkin discusses the lapses in secrecy concerning the Air Marshals, and describes some specific things reported by CNN. She just reports the facts, and I want to explain why those facts are very, very bad to have in the open.

-explicitly describing the Federal Air Marshal Boarding Procedure,

This is very, very bad. This tells a terrorist, “this is how you identify the Air Marshals. Look for someone getting on this way.”

- disclosing that FAMs carry .357 Sigs (terrorists can now become familiar with the same weapon as the FAM carries prior to attack),

This isn’t completely clear about why this is bad, so I’ll explain. Instead of terrorists having to train broadly for a wide range of captured weapons, they now know that they can go get a specific family of weapons and train specifically with those weapons. Something like identifying the manual safety on the weapon could foil a terrorist long enough for the passengers to overpower the terrorist, should he get the weapon. Now, it will be second nature for him.

And that is the real problem of identifying these two things. Getting a gun on the plane is the goal of the terrorist. He has two options: he can smuggle a weapon in (hard) or he can acquire one that is already on the plane. He now has all the information he needs to do that. He can identify the Air Marshall, and he knows exactly how to use the weapon once he has taken it. This is very very bad.

Marshals are livid at Quinn’s reckless disregard for their safety and his continued war on FAMS employees trying to put the public interest above public relations. How long will the Bush administration keep this joker on board before something truly catastrophic happens?

That’s the long and short of it. He will be on board until something truly catastrophic happens.

The Rall Egosurf

February 23rd, 2005

QandO Blog has a righteous fisking of Ted Rall’s latest “column”. He does an admirable job (RTWT) but misses one important subtext:

…the fact is that the political blogs are dominated by the hard right.

It’s true, you know. Why, sometimes I have to wait for a clear night, so I can pick up the faint signal of the far-off…
- DailyKos [Ecosystem Traffic Rank: #1]
- Atrios [Ecosystem Traffic Rank: #6]
- Washington Monthly [Ecosystem Traffic Rank: #10]
- The Smirking Chimp [Ecosystem Traffic Rank: #11].

I hear tell of hundreds–nay thousands–of other leftwing blogs, but I fear they shall remain nameless…

…unless I happen to glance at the blogrolls of the aforementioned liberal blogs, which, apparently, Ted Rall doesn’t have time to do, what with all the time he spends looking for references to himself on obscure rightwing blogs.

I think Jon missed the context here. Rall assumes that blogs are dominated by the right wing, because his idea of finding blogs is to google “Ted Rall” and see what comes up. What invariably comes up is right-of-the-aisle blogs, because the left of the aisle is embarrassed by Rall. Rall is everything that the hard left stereotype embodies, and anyone who isn’t extreme left does not want to be associated with him. It is better to let him sit in SanFran where he can amuse the True Believers without scaring off those who haven’t been fully indoctrinated.

Ted Rall thinks that the blogosphere is right wing because the left wing keeps ignoring him.

Tortious Interference

February 16th, 2005

If you aren’t familiar with the BatesLine / Tulsa World dispute, check out that link. The nuts and bolts of it is that The Tulsa World newspaper has claimed that a blogger (BatesLine) violated their copyright by excerpting from editorials and stories, and even more amazingly, by linking to their site without their permission. Well, now they have done more than that, and I believe they have opened themselves up to a lawsuit now that they have Whirled threat update” href=”http://www.batesline.com/archives/001288.html”>threatened the ISP of another group and caused them to have to move to a new hosting provider.

The Tulsa World sent the same threat of legal action to the hosting provider for www.tulsansforelectionintegrity.com, the website for Tulsans for Election Integrity (TfEI) the opposition to the recall of reform Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. TfEI was told they had 24 hours to remove links and quotes or their service would be cut off. They’ll be looking for a new provider, one less susceptible to the World’s pressure.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I could be best described as a sophisticated layperson.

This sounds to me, as a layperson, as an open and shut case of tortious interference with a contract:

The causing of harm by disrupting something that belongs to someone else — for example, interfering with a contractual relationship so that one party fails to deliver goods on time.

TFEI had a contract with it’s hosting provider. That contract has now been broken because Tulsa World sent a fraudulent and malicious letter to the hosting provider. According to what I can google on Oklahoma law, these are the elements of tortious interference under the Oklahoma code:

Oklahoma law requires that a plaintiff prove:

1. That it had a business or contractual right with which there was interference.

2. That the interference was malicious and wrongful, and that such interference was neither justified, privileged nor excusable.

3. That damage was proximately sustained as a result of the complained-of interference.

Element one is proven, I believe, in that the contract would be in effect if not for the intentional acts of Tulsa World in sending this letter to the Hosting Provider. The second element is more involved. There is evidence that the act was malicious, in that there are acts which would constitute clear copyright violations from Coalition for Responsible Government, a rival organization that the Editorial Board of the Tulsa World is sympathetic to. Tulsa World cannot, as I understand equitable estoppel, claim that it is simply zealously protecting its copyright while neglecting to take any action against another actor who is engaging in even more egregious behavior, simply because it wishes to tacitly support the goals of the second actor.

The TFEI would also need to show that the actions were wrongful. If this letter did indeed claim that simply “unauthorized linking” was actionable and placing the Hosting Provider in peril, then this would indeed be an unexcused and wrongful act, in that it is fraudulent. It would be reasonable to expect the editor of a major newspaper to understand this is not in any way a valid copyright claim, and one would reasonably expect a major newspaper editor to be well versed in copyright law and to recognize when he was outside his realm of expertise and seek counsel. This claim is one that cannot be defended as a good faith claim by Tulsa World — the idea is so preposterous that it must be malicious and evidence of bad faith.

I don’t know enough about Oklahoma law to say one way or the other if the third element could be fulfilled. The third element would be fulfilled by the burden of having to change providers. I don’t know if Oklahoma has a presumption of damages in a case of bad faith, and this sounds like a bad faith case. These are questions that an Oklahoma lawyer (shudder) would have to answer.

All I know is that as a layperson, if I was calling the shots at TFEI, I would be calling a lawyer.

The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.