Monday, June 20, 2005

Close Coesfeld now!
More torture by Soldiers that you won't hear about: Eighteen Bundeswehr Soldiers have been charged with abusing recruits in the Coesfeld barracks.

According to this article from January, the soldiers were accused of torturing recruits with electrical charges, water and beatings and 296 witnesses to the events were interviewed. Eight of the 38 original suspects admitted to the acts but insisted they were only following orders.

The torturers took photos as trophies of the event. In case you were wondering, these photos will not be shown on your TV day and night, run on page 1 of the New York Times or be cited as proof that Gerhard Schroeder and everyone in his government are innately and uniquely evil.

As of now, searching for "german soldier" on Google News yields "German soldiers allowed to keep mullets" as the top hit. Nothing about torture anywhere in the first page.

To be fair, the events have been in reported in Germany (a report on SWR3 radio alerted me to the story), but they're greeted with approximately 1/10000th the interest and outrage of Guantanamo (as I type this, the front page of NetZeitung carries an article Clinton's call to close Guantanamo and absolutely nothing about Coesfeld).

This despite the twin facts that the victims at Coesfeld were draftees rather than battlefield captives and the abuses there were far worse than anything reported at Gitmo.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

NPR's Daniel Schorr says that Amnesty International made a “technical error” in comparing Guantanamo to a Gulag. And then proceeds to compare it to the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. Sigh.

Let's recap, shall we?

The internment of Japanese-Americans involved 120,000 American citizens who were going about their daily business when they were interned. Guantanamo holds 500 non-citizens who were taken prisoner on a battlefield.

Audio here (no transcript, unfortunately).

Needless to say, he accepts the AI report at face value, including the assertion that the US is the among the worst human rights offenders.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

There is a "Plan B" After All
Boom Chicago has it all figured out in their "After the No: Smaller Unions Instead" video.
If you're looking for evidence... that the Euro is failing, look no further than this item from today's German News:

Failure of monetary union ruled out
The President of the German Federal Bank ("Bundesbank"), Axel Weber, has ruled out the notion that the European monetary union should be declared a failure. The issuing bank in Frankfurt (am Main) stated that it would not entertain such an absurd discussion. The federal Finance Ministry in Berlin had earlier issued a similar statement, that Finance Minister Hans Eichel definitively saw no danger that the economic and currency reform could fail. These statements came in response to a report in the Hamburg-based newsmagazine "Stern" that Eichel and Weber had discussed the topic.

You can practically hear the nervous giggle.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A word of advice to any three-year olds that might be reading this blog: If your father or mother tells you to stop doing something and your reply begins with "But I'm just...", you're about to get yourself into very big trouble.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Instapundit is perplexed by "Bush's stinginess regarding pardons." I have no strong opinion on the appropriate number of pardons for a President to issue, but I'm not at all surprised that Bush is low on the scale.

For better or for worse, Bush delegates responsibilities and then lets go of them, intervening only if there's a conflict or on matters of policy. He's not the sort to second guess, and a Presidential Pardon amounts to second-guessing the justice system.

Bush's style works well if the people you're delegating to are competent and pulling towards the same goal, but it can run into problems if too many are incompent or overly political. To remain effective, this sort of executive has to adapt as the organization changes, deciding who to trust and who needs oversight without just falling back into a trusted "inner circle" that might not really be trustworthy (past performance is no indication of future returns - the guy who gives 120% when the company and his paycheck were on the line could turn out to be a ruthless, backstabbing political operator when the situation isn't so dire).

Two of the most spectacular organizational failures I've seen were caused in part by this dynamic. Small product teams that had been functioning very effectively with distributed responsibilities grew or evolved to the point that some of the people involved could no longer be trusted, and management made some really bad choices about who they should rely on. It doesn't take long for the wheels to come off in a pretty spectacular way.

While were doing business archetypes for politicians: Whatever the faults of the hands-off executive, he's 1000 times better than the monomaniacal micromanager who knows better than everyone else (Al Gore) or the political schemer who says or does whatever he thinks will benefit him most, without regard to the consequences or to any sort of consistency or principle (John Kerry).

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Seen at the Gym
The guy on the treadmill in front of me at the gym today was wearing a shirt with an absolutely huge "Bush-Cheney '04" logo. Underneath, also in large letters, it said: "A Person of Tolerance and Diversity Keyed My Car."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Oh Come, All Ye ... Faithful?
The elder tadpole and I had a strange and somewhat disturbing encounter with a Salvation Army bellringer last week.

We were entering a local supermarket and the elder tadpole bounded ahead with the energetic enthusiasm that only a three year old can muster, to give the bellringer a dollar. He wished the bellringer a chirpy "Merry Christmas" and was rewarded with a tart correction: "Happy Holidays," said the bellringer, "and a Happy Dr. King's Day on January 17th." He followed this pronouncement with a condescending smirk.

I'm not sure what's more disturbing: A Salvation Army bellringer who is openly hostile to Christmas, or a grown man who feels the need to haughtily demonstrate his lofty political awareness to an enthusiastic three-year old.

I have nothing against any of the holidays that fall at this time of year, but that's completely beside the point. His behavior was jarring and completely inappropriate, and Mrs. Tadpole is now reluctant to give to other bellringers. A small cynical part of me wonders if the bellringer is just clueless or if that reluctance to give is precisely his goal.