Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pumpkin photos anyone?

I'm running out of 'sun rises in east' jokes....

USATODAY.com: "Network news coverage has favored Democratic candidates in the midterm election, and the page scandal involving former congressman Mark Foley has been the main story line, drawing almost as much coverage as Iraq and terrorism combined, a new study finds.

An analysis by the Center for Media and Public Affairs of midterm election stories aired on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts Sept. 5-Oct. 22 found that 2006's coverage has been almost five times as heavy as in the 2002 midterm elections: 167 stories, compared with 35 four years ago.


Via Jonah Goldberg

The Corner on National Review Online: "That s.o.b. Kerry should have been there with us during the ring ceremony for our daughter’s class at West Point (2004). We bowed our heads, and most of the moms were crying and silently praying “Dear God, please not my son!” as they read the role of the graduates who had already fallen in the War on Terror. Every week or so we get an e-mail of another of the long grey line who “gave his last full measure of devotion.” Kerry must pay for THIS remark with his career. By the way, our daughter was valedictorian of her high school class and is to be shipped to Afghanistan in the beginning of December – her first Christmas away from home. I’m trying very hard not to use foul language here in case you should post this, but my blood is on fire and it is a hard struggle."

No "Sex in Space"

The Space Review: Sex in Space: bizarre reactions: "Sex in Space was sold at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) store for the first month after Apogee Books released the book. It was doing very well, so the store manager invited me to do a book signing. The trouble began as soon as a cheery book-signing announcement was emailed to all personnel at JPL. Unbeknownst to me, the store simply isn’t allowed to do book signings because JPL can’t be seen as endorsing a commercial product. The JPL store personnel simply made a mistake by booking my signing. However, what happened next is ridiculous. First, a liaison to the store e-mailed an announcement to all personnel—thousands of people at JPL—citing “ethical reasons” for the cancellation of the signing. This, of course, prompted many people to contact me to ask exactly what it was that I did wrong. The implication is that I did something unethical. I’ve done nothing wrong, which the JPLers involved have assured me of via several telephone conversations. A simple clarification sent to the same distribution list (all personnel) as the previous announcement would have fixed things. To date, no such email has been sent. Second, those involved ordered my Sex in Space books pulled from the store. Apparently the title “Sex in Space” is just too racy. Perhaps I should have titled my book, “The P"

Realistic Internet Simulator AKA Kill The Popups by Rob Manuel [B3TA : WE LOVE THE WEB]

Realistic Internet Simulator AKA Kill The Popups by Rob Manuel [B3TA : WE LOVE THE WEB]


You scored as Modern Liberal. You are a Modern Liberal. Science and historical study have shown so much of the Bible to be unreliable and that conservative faith has made Jesus out to be a much bigger deal than he actually was. Discipleship involves continuing to preach and practice Jesus' measure of love and acceptance, and dogma is not important in today's world. You are influenced by thinkers like Bultmann and Bishop Spong.

Modern Liberal




Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

To be honest, I didn't even know what somew of the questions are about (Bishop Spong?)

I especially like that the advert banner on the page is for Oxygen sex videos and games.


Here are interesting little artifacts from shooting pictures "into the sun". (Sony DSC-W50 "Cybershot" in AutoAdjust)

John Kerry, Class Act

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

What an idiot.

The Dilbert Blog: Electronic Voting Machines

The Dilbert Blog: Electronic Voting Machines: "The important thing with democracy – and this has always been the case – is that the citizens a) Believe the election result is based on the common sense and voting rights of the citizens, and b) Have enough handguns to wax any politicians who gets too seriously out of line (also known as a “check and balance”).

And here the definition of “seriously out of line” would not include humping interns and stealing from taxpayers. Those things should be allowed, even encouraged, so we can attract the most capable candidates from private industry.

Call me an optimist, but electronic voting machines make me feel good about my country.

Is it too late to start selling bumper stickers that say “I think I voted”?"

I hate polls

I really do. There is something so manipulative about them. For instance we look at the averages at RCP and I wonder how is an average any more accurate than the individual polls which often as not bear little resemblance to one another. For instance Mason Dixon has a poll out with Allen ahead by 4 and Rasmussen has a poll out with Webb ahead by 5. They can't both be right.

I have caller ID and an answering machine. I screen calls and I have never been part of a poll. How can the polsters know they are really getting a realistic representation of the public? Is that even their goal? Is the intent to manipulate or measure public opinion?

In Iraq this last month there has been a spike in American casualties. An election here, Ramadan there, together with a military offensive have combined to drive up casualties. I had hoped that Democrats would refrain from using dead Americans to help win the election. But I have already seen ads using these numbers. Perhaps I am being unfair but it seems to me that the people killing American soldiers are working hard to get Democrats elected and Democrats are accepting their help. I remember back in 2004 when Bush used fleeting images of 9/11 the Democrats said he was exploiting the dead for political gain. Who is exploiting the dead now?

Here in Indiana Ellsworth is running more like a Republican than a Democrat. He is refusing to even talk about Nancy Pelosi. He is a prolife, progun, antiamnesty, promilitary, anti big government kind of guy. I wonder what he will do once he is forced to make a choice and either live up to the promises he is making to Hoosiers or vote with his party? Because the two are mutually exclusive.

Once the dust settles and all the absentee ballots are counted and we know who won which polsters will have been right? After all someone has to be. I guess.

Mass rape in downtown Cairo

Police do nothing; the authorities and MSM turn a blind eye. Reports here and here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter

Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter: "some people call this class the 'liberal media.' I reject that idea and terminology entirely. There is nothing liberal about them at all. They are a rich, privileged class much like the bourgeoisie in a Bunuel movie (or Moliere, of course). What is 'liberal' is only a talking point to preserve their perquisites. Perhaps these values were there at some point, but that was decades ago in another universe. Now the real issues are good tailoring and homes in the country. Nothing should disturb that.

This 'bad faith' informs everything they do and how they act. (When I write this, I know it infuriates them, but let me admit I am not much better.) Receiving news from Wolf Blitzer is like getting your information filtered through a highly-perfected survival machine. Well, maybe not so highly-perfected, but better than the network news, which is on the way out. "

LiveScience.com - Elephant Self-Awareness Mirrors Humans

LiveScience.com - Elephant Self-Awareness Mirrors Humans: "Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, joining only humans, apes and dolphins as animals that possess this kind of self-awareness, researchers now report.

'This would seem to be a trait common to and independently evolved by animals with large, complex brains, complex social lives and known capacities for empathy and altruism, even though the animals all have very different kinds of brains,' researcher Diana Reiss, a senior cognitive research scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society in Brooklyn, N.Y., told LiveScience."

Too much free time

Socialism by any other name?

Tony Blair has proposed new taxes to account for the supposed consequences of human caused global warming. One of the schemes I heard about on the radio includes a tax on produce or other products from abroad to account for the CO2 emissions of transporting the items. In other circles this would be called a tariff and an impediment to free trade. Of course, the aim is portrayed as noble. A dirty little word like protectionist doesn't enter the equation. Consider this from Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The chancellor, Gordon Brown, who commissioned the review, said climate
change was "the world's biggest market failure" (bold not
in original) and that Britain would become the leading country in pushing for
low carbon emissions.

Quite interesting, biggest market failure. In other words we need massive degrees of central regulation in order to tackle the heating of the planet. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (apologies to Pete Townsend, if necessary). In a coordinated action, a former Vice President has found a new government dole from which to draw a salary.

Britain is to send the author of today's landmark review on global warming to
try to win American hearts and minds to the urgent cause of cutting carbon
emissions - as it emerged yesterday that the government has already signed up
former US vice-president Al Gore to advise on the environment.

Sir Nicholas Stern, who this morning publishes an authoritative report on climate change warning that inaction could cause a worldwide recession as damaging as the
Depression of the 1930s, will lobby politicians and business people in America
at the turn of the year.

We will see many centralization schemes in the next several years as the climate change debate boils over. Of course, such schemes require the bureaucratic infrastructure to manage this. Perhaps Benan Sevan will be looking for something to do if he can unwiggle himself from current predicaments.

Dafydd's two cents

Dafydd of Big Lizards joins the Kill Sadr debate:

Jack Kelly, national-security writer for the the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade, penned (phosphored?) a column forthrightly titled "We must get rid of al-Sadr." First, I must note that I'm very, very unimpressed by both the writing and thinking of Mr. Kelly. His column is written about at the level of a typical blog (Power Line is far more literate); it's conclusory and dismissive and drips with such sweeping opinion-mongering as "and people wonder why U.S. policy in Iraq is failing," and "it will be embarrassing for President Bush to admit the failure of the Iraqi government."

(Generally, Kelly thinks very little of the Iraq government; I certainly get the sense he thinks we'd all be better off if Iraq were our colony, much as the Congo belonged to France and Belgium.)

What's more, the only source he cites for anything is an anonymous "Army sergeant in a Baghdad intelligence unit," who e-mailed -- not Jack Kelly -- but the WSJ's James Taranto! Presumably, Kelly doesn't even know himself who the sergeant is or how qualified he is to make observations. Mr. Sergeant says just what Kelly longs to hear; to nobody's amazement, Kelly quotes Mr. Sergeant.

Nevertheless, the idea that we should kill Sadr is a good one. But I really wish I didn't have Mr. Kelly on my side, for he makes no particular argument at all how killing Sadr would help anyone -- nor does he consider any consequences other than Bush's "embarassing" admission of putative failure and a glib reference to an "uprising," as if that were of no consequence.

Paul has noticed this lack as well:

I wonder whether bringing down a given milita and/or its leader would make much difference at this point. My understanding is that the Shia militias exist mainly to inflict harm upon, and do battle with, the Sunnis. Given the "demand" for such units, it's questionable whether we can cut off the supply.

So let me fill in the missing argument that Mr. Kelly could not seem to articulate.

First, on the basic level, Paul is correct: killing Sadr would not put the Mahdi Militia out of existence. Actually, I would suggest killing not just Sadr, but the number two and number three guys, all more or less simultaneously (within a few days of each other). This would leave the lower tier people wondering which of them would become the new leader.

Let 'em fight it out.

Second, Paul asserts that there is a fixed "demand" on the part of Shia for killing Sunnis; but I'm not persuaded. Iraq has always been more tribal than sectarian. Many of the biggest tribes include both Sunni and Shiite members; and until Saddam came along and set the two sects at each other's throats (quite deliberately), they knocked together quite decently in Iraq.

I don't think the war between Shia and Sunni has gone on long enough in Iraq to have become the new norm. I don't even think the Shia thought of Saddam's as a "Sunni" dictatorship... more likely as the dictatorship of the Tikriti tribe, which included Shia, Sunni, and even a prominent Christian (Tariq Aziz).

I agree about Kelly, he is entirely too cavalier.

Read it all.

The Numbers

Hugh Hewitt has the numbers:

In the 1986 election, Ronald Reagan saw the Democrats gained a net eight seats in the Senate and take control from the Republicans with a 55-45 majority. The Dems added 5 House seats to increase their majority to a 258 to 177 margin in the lower chamber. For the math challenged, that is an 81 seat majority for the Dems.

In the 1974 election, the sixth year of eight Republican presidential years, the Watergate/pardon election saw Democrats add four seats in the Senate, for a total of 60 Democrats. Democrats crushed the GOP in the House, adding picking up 49 seats for a post-election day margin of 291 to 144 --a 147 seat edge!

In the 1958 election, Ike saw the democrats add 14 senators (including two from Hawaii) for a 65-35 Democratic-GOP split. The Democrats added 48 seats in the House and controlled that body by a margin of 283 to 153. Again, math fans, that's a 130 seat edge!

Now, with some facts in hand, go back and read the Post's agenda journalism. President Bush's unique electoral record is matched only by FDR's, and FDR's Democrats lost 76 House in 1938, and six Senate seats.

The Bush-Rove political legacy is already established, and even a narrow loss of both the Senate and the House would not dent it.

Can you imagine the panic on the right if they were looking at the Democrats winning the kinds of majorities they used to carry? Pundits would be jumping out of windows.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Vampire Invasion?

Michelle Malkin posts on William and Mary removing the cross from the Wren Chapel. Comes forth the administration and speaks:
"Let me be clear. I have not banished the cross from the Wren Chapel. The chapel, as you know, is used for religious ceremonies by members of all faiths. The cross will remain in the chapel and be displayed on the altar at appropriate religious services.

"But the chapel is also used frequently for college events that are secular in nature -- and should be open to students and staff of all beliefs. Whether celebrating our happiest moments, marking our greatest achievements, or finding solace during our most profound sadness, our chapel, like our entire campus, must be welcoming to all...

You know who fears the cross? Right, vampires. William and Mary has been infested by vampires. Hidden stairways in the faculty lounges lead to the crypts beneath the campus of America's second oldest university; there the administration and tenured faculty spend their "break time" resting on a thin layer of rich soil lining the bottom of comfortable coffins. Soon garlic will be banned from the cafeteria because some find its odor "offensive." Mirrors will be removed from the restrooms. There will be more night classes for "non-traditional students." The town's people had better lay in a stock of wooden stakes and torches, they are going to need them.

Calling Buffy. Where are you Vampire Slayer?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Socrates or Muhammad?

Lee Harris, one of my favorite thinkers, has published an article in the Weekly Standard devoted to the speech given by Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg. You may recall this speech as the one that recounted the dialogue between the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Muslim Persian concerning Islam and Christianity. Given the discussion in the comments of the Dawkins post I think some of you will find this article interesting: Socrates or Muhammad? . It is dedicated to the memory of Oriana Fallaci.

h/t The ChicagoBoyz.

Decidedly Odd Statues

Full set.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Give Maliki a chance

So says Greyhawk over at Mudville. Greyhawk has done several posts in the last couple of days regarding supposed tension between the US and the Iraqi government. He attributes much of the problem to bad reporting and thinks the disagreement has been overblown.

But enough of yesterday's news - on to Maliki's bombshell for today - in which he declares that he can get the job done sooner than the most optimistic U.S. timeline anyway:

Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday he could get violence under control in six months, half the time U.S. generals say they need, provided Washington gave him more weaponry and more say over his own forces.
"They think building Iraqi forces will need 12 to 18 months, for us to be in control of security," Maliki said, referring to remarks two days ago by U.S. commander General George Casey.

"We agree our forces need work but think that if, as we are asking, the rebuilding of our forces was in our own hands, then it would take not 12-18 months but six might be enough."
"I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces yet I cannot move a single company without Coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate," Maliki said.

"I have to be careful fighting some militias and terrorists ... because they are better armed than the army and police," Maliki said. "The police are sharing rifles."
Asked what kind of Iraqi forces he wanted, Maliki said: "I'm not talking about modern tanks or modern warplanes and missiles ... I'm talking about having a well-trained army, swift and light on its feet and at the same time with medium weapons."

That kind of leadership is exactly what is needed in Iraq - I say we give him what he wants, get out of the way as much as possible, and see what happens in six months.

read it all.

I am not psychic nor am I a military expert, so I think I will just wait and see what happens, but I do think that after we have gone to all this trouble to establish a representative government in Iraq it would be a shame if we just said to hell with it, the Muslims are hopeless.

In Defense of the Prophet

When this is preached every Friday things may change. I hope the author lives to see his message accepted. He's the most moderate Saudi that I believe I've ever read.

Via Crossroads Arabia - more moderate viewpoints written from the KSA by American expats. Maybe taquiyah, maybe not. There's no way to tell.

Jack Kelly Joins Ralph Peters

In an essay entitled Which will go first
the current Iraqi government, or all hope of victory in Iraq?
, Kelly lays out a view that coincides with that expressed by Peters' in a column entitled TERROR RULES STREETS.

Neither piece is a rehash of errors made or an assertion that the Iraq War was itself an error. Both men have reached the same conclusion that I have, which is that the current leadership in Iraq is so bad that democracy must fail as a result.

I do not believe that Maliki has "until Christmas" to resolve problems. I believe that his government will fall very quickly after November 7th. The last grains in the hourglass of Muqtada's life should fall before mid-November. Even then, it may turn out to have been two years too late. The President has spoken of change recently. I hope that the change which he forsees is based upon recognition that applying the force necessary to restore order, bloody as it may be, will be far kinder to the Iraqi people than leaving to the mercy of the muslim thugs contending for spoils by continuing to perfect their terror techniques.

UPDATE: Bill Roggio weighs in with some good reporting on a few other battles being waged between Sadr's Mahdi Army and (mostly) Iraqi security forces. He doesn't favor killing Sadr and believes that Maliki should have another chance. Very good reporting but I disagree with the conclusion. Maybe we could split the difference and just wound Sadr badly enough to leave him comatose?

A Working Writer on Webb

AmbivaBlog: Damned if You Don't . . .: "If you didn't know anything about books, writing, or fiction, you might naïvely believe that those passages reflect badly on Webb as anything other than a writer. Do the Republicans really think their constituents are that ignorant? What's more elitist than assuming and cynically trying to exploit such naïveté?"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Shiny Shiny: Navirobo Gives Drive Directions, Creeps People Out

Shiny Shiny: Navirobo Gives Drive Directions, Creeps People Out: "I'm sorry - but I've seen enough episodes of Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside, Friday the 13th (The Series) and The Twilight Zone to know that when dolls become animate and start dictating your movements, nothing good can come of it."

David Frum's Diary on National Review Online

David Frum's Diary on National Review Online: "[L]et me simplify:

Democrats may say what they please and do as they please - Republican speech must be carefully scrutinized for any hint of inappropriateness - and all Republicans be immediately called on to disavow anything anywhere done with less than perfect gentlemanliness & elegance.

Democrats may strike in any way they like - and may go sobbing to the media if they get back any portion of what they dish out.

And it works, because after all: in this game, the ref wears their jersey."

U.S. Department of Defense Update

U.S. Department of Defense Update: "The New York Times has once again repeated a popular myth to mislead its readers about Secretary Rumsfeld. We ask for an immediate correction.

Today’s editorial claims: “There have never been enough troops, the result of Mr. Rumsfeld’s negligent decision to use Iraq as a proving ground for his pet military theories, rather than listen to his generals.” Whether or not the Times believes there were enough troops in Iraq, the claim that any troop level in Iraq is the result of Secretary Rumsfeld “not listening to his generals” is demonstrably untrue.


Working the Dhimmi Dummies

Scott Johnson at PowerLine lays out the playbook being followed in the Minneapolis taxi drivers farce. I didn't know that we had a fatwa issuing authority in the States, let alone one linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The muslim hack drivers should be free to relinquish their hack licenses should they feel that the fatwa outweighs the carriage laws governing the exercise of their privilege to exercise trade. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport could have become the first in the world to ruled by a fictious fatwa. The multicultis are strong there and 'special class' stupidity is not unknown - they may elect one of Farrakhan's fakirs to congress.

This time it appears that the airport authorities decided that the camel's nose really didn't belong in the tent but there is no question that sharia proponents will try again - and there is no question that they will find addle headed support from those unable to separate right from privilege.

UPDATE: VDH explores the theme at length.
Third, civilization is forfeited with a whimper, not a bang. Insidiously, we have allowed radical Islamists to redefine the primordial into the not-so-bad. Perhaps women in head-to-toe burkas in Europe prefer them? Maybe that crass German opera was just too over the top after all? Aren't both parties equally to blame in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan wars?


Ralph Peters offers the advice in a very short piece for The New York Post. I do not agree with Peters all the time but I do this time. Sadr has the strings controlling Maliki in his hands and Maliki is dancing to his orders. There is a fair chance that Maliki would be killed by Sadrists as a reprisal for the loss of Sadr but there would be a minimal loss involved should that happen. Peters' assessment that
Oh, Maliki realizes his government wouldn't last a week if our troops withdrew. He doesn't want us to leave yet. But he's looking ahead.

For now, Maliki and his pals are using our troops to buy time while they pocket our money, amass power and build up arms. But they've written us off for the long term.
is dead center on target. If democracy is to have any chance at all in Iraq then the muslim clerics whose foul religion is antithetical in essence to democracy must be taught to sit quietly on the sidelines. Putting Sadr in the ground would go part of the way towards achieving that goal. Letting the remaining Sadrist thugs take out Maliki would go a bit further. Finishing off the Sadrist bands thereafter might give Iraq the breathing room necessary for democracy to take root.

I truly doubt that last, though. It really is going to take an Attaturk to keep the religion of murder and slavery from asserting its natural place in any muslim society.

We've been hinting to Maliki that he has taken the wrong road for some time. He does not believe us because he is a true muslim - if you don't put a boot on his neck he thinks you're kidding. It's time to disabuse him of that notion.

A Deal with the Devil

Have the Democrats sold their souls for an election victory? I hope not.

The numbers of soldiers killed in Iraq had declined this year, until this election season. The numbers of soldiers killed has reached its highest level since Jan. 2005.

Of course Jan 30, 2005 was the date of Iraqi legislative elections. Jihadis are said to be bragging on their websites that they can swsy the midterms here by killing soldiers there. And of course the Democrats are more than willing to play along with this if it can get them what they want. Congressman Murtha might win and what jihadi would not want this man in a position to authority? It is simple, kill Americans, the Democrats win, the Democrats cut off the money and the mission ends and the troops are withdrawn and genocide and mayhem ensue..remember Afghanistan in the 80's and 90's... child's play compared to what Iraq could be.

But the important thing is that Murtha get that leadership position and if a few more Marines have to die to make that happen. What the hell Like the man said, they are cold blooded murderers...

Bean Eater

Greyhawk at Mudville has an interesting take on the recent dust up between Maliki and Ambassador Khalilzad and who said what in regards to an agreement with Talibani to deal with some of Iraq's internal problems. The point being the reporters may have created a false impression themselves when asking Maliki questions.

Why the heading? Well... years ago when I was in second grade I came home from school and told my mother the teacher had called me a bean eater. Mama took offence at this and immediately went to the teacher to give the lady a piece of her mind. My mother was going at it pretty good, telling the lady we were not white trash by God, when the teacher interrupted her and said "I did not tell Terrye she was a bean eater, I told her I wanted her to be neater".

To this day I can remember the look on Mama's face when she turned and zeroed in on me.

I had an excuse for my misreporting, I was 7 years old. What is the excuse of reporters today?

BTW, I think both the governments are playing to their domestic audiences right now and a great deal of the important work that people like Khalilzad are doing in regards to the International Compact of Iraq and other initiatives goes unreported.

The spats we hear about.

Barone on Bush

Michael Barone and several other center right political writers met with the President in the Oval Office for a talk on Iraq and the war on Terror. Barone gives an account of the meeting on his blog . Much is discussed from the oil trust to the distant future. There is audio as well.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

12¢ Hamburgers and $600 Cars - Mises Institute

12¢ Hamburgers and $600 Cars - Mises Institute: "Let's put this in everyday terms. Suppose these estimates represent the changes in the prices of goods such as hamburgers, cars, and housing. According to these numbers, a hamburger that cost 60¢ in 1959 would have cost $4 in 2005. If the money supply had been fixed, however, that hamburger would only cost 12¢ today. Similarly, a $20,000 car in 2005 would have cost slightly less than $3,000 in 1959. Again, without the monetary effect on prices, that car would only cost $600 today. The price of a $45,000 house in 1959 would have increased to $300,000 in 2005. With a fixed money supply, that house would cost $9,000 today.

Currently, price inflation is thought of as an increase in the price level above some previous level. However, if we think of price inflation as the increase in the price level over and above what the price level would have been in the absence of the expansionary monetary policies, then this gives us a more accurate picture of the effects of government policies. The estimations provided here show that the price level effects due to government manipulation of the money supply are much larger than indicated by standard price indices.


A Strategic Lunch with Mr. Rumsfeld - On Point Commentary by Austin Bay StrategyPage.com

A Strategic Lunch with Mr. Rumsfeld - On Point Commentary by Austin Bay StrategyPage.com: "Our system for 'Unified Action' is still largely a Cold War, 20th century relic designed to prop up governments (so often corrupt and ill-led), instead of helping individuals and neighborhoods become economically self-sustaining and self-securing. Winning war in the Age of the Internet means improving neighborhoods and individual lives. The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and micro-finance whiz Muhammad Yunus understands this.

We are in a long, global war, where economic and political development programs must reinforce security and intelligence operations -- and vice versa.

We've been improvising 'joint development and security operations,' and we've learned from our improvisation (Rumsfeld's 'we're better than we were').

But it's time to quit improvising. Effective 'Unified Action' requires re-engineering 20th century Beltway bureaucracies -- which means thoughtful, sophisticated cooperation between the executive branch and Congress.

That means getting past the sensational gossip and confronting an essential issue."

(See also Austin Bay's comments on his own blog.)

The political arts

Some say politics can be a science; some say it isn't an art. Does the question depend on whether there must always be one truth out there at least somewhat superior to the others we may know? My colleague and Flares reader, Charles Henry, is developing his significant skills in the war against totalitarian Islam. Check out his new slide shows - here and here - and let him know how he's doing.

Airstrikes In Baghdad - Followup

One of the larger problems involved in trying to instill hope for representative democracy in the Middle East is the quaint Islamic/Arabist custom of defining the election process as "one man, one vote, one time". Egypt, Pakistan and Syria are good examples of the successful application of that custom (Pakistan isn't Arab but it sure is Islamist).

It appears that Maliki may be trying to follow his co-religionist cousins path in Iraq. Reading this article leaves me with a definite impression that Maliki's ties to Sadr are aimed at making Sadr's militia the "enforcer" for a dreamed of power grab. If true, it would be entirely unsurprising.

I wonder if toning down 'Stay the Course' rhetoric and dropping the noble lie of 'Religion of Peace' might be a prelude to engagement in Iraq in the religiously dictated muslim 'thugs and slaves' manner? Do we have an Attaturk waiting in the wings to instill democracy in the only way that has ever been successful in a muslim country?

If Maliki is hard of hearing, perhaps putting Sadr in the ground might provide a cure? It's worth a try - especially since the Iraqi Army is about two years away from being totally reliable.

Hand Sanitizer Mania

In Frontiers on Germicidal Living, Glenn Reynolds notes:

Now they're distributing free hand sanitizer on the Washington Metro, as a means of preventing flu. Will it work? I guess we'll find out. My guess is that it will do some good. And when I mentioned this on my blog, numerous readers wrote in to report that all sorts of places, from childcare centers, to shopping malls, to cruise ships, were bringing hand sanitizers out and encouraging their use. (I like the idea of sanitizing people who go through a buffet line.)

But I think this is just the beginning. As I've noted here before, the false sense of security that resulted from the introduction of antibiotics caused us to let our guard down on a lot of sanitation and public-health issues. But with the growth of antibiotic resistance -- along with threats like avian flu and bioterrorism -- I think that people are likely to start taking these kinds of public health issues much more seriously.

Yes, hand sanitizers are becoming very popular as a preventive measure. Readily available, easy to use, and effective...up to 90% effective if the proper formulation is used. The CDC has done some tests and found 40% ethanol merely spreads the germs around, though it is effective on fungi, and 62% ethanol is the magic number. So be sure to read your labels.

Objectively I think hand "sanitizing" is a good thing simply because the ethanol is more effective than merely washing one's hands. Subjectively, though, I don't think we should get carried away with thinking we can ever be totally sanitized in our homes, schools, or workplaces--nor should we want to be.

Besides the simple fact that our hands are not the only way germs get transferred into our systems, our immune systems can be quite effective in building up resistance to certain types of germs and, you know, actually require exposure to do so. If you live in a glass bubble, totally germ free, it's possible to die from a simple cold virus. Well, I don't know if that's true, or just an old wive's tale, but it's something to ponder.

Also I've heard that squeaky clean kids have a tendency to get really sick when exposed to certain types of germs as opposed to kids who are allowed to play in dirt . Another wive's tale?

I've worked in many places and over the decades have learned that when I start a new job (or a new school as a child) I always get sick within the first couple of weeks. A cold or minor flu. The 'community germs' in my new workplace, which don't affect the other workers, affect me because they're new to my system. To me that is not a bug but a feature of becoming part of the new community. Talk about bio-diversity!

Besides, I think getting a cold once a year is good for society as a whole. It may cost businesses worker time, but if the individual stops fighting and gives in to the cold and says 'I won't worry about anything until this cold is gone in a day or two' it is a good emotional safety valve. A vacation, if you will, from everyday worries. Just stay in bed with your kleenex and Vix and stop worrying about the world.

My simple rules are:

(1)Never touch your eyes
(2)Don't let anyone bite you
(3)Avoid salad bars in the winter

I must admit that these days I'm more worried that I'm isolated from others' germs, than about keeping my hands clean. I haven't gotten out much for the last few years and fear that if I do become exposed I will get really sick because there are germs out there now my body has never heard of.

No Wonder

Wired News: Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero: "Millions of viewers of NBC's Heroes know actor Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, the bored young Japanese office worker who discovers he has the power to alter time and teleport. What they probably don't know is that he's been working behind the scenes for years as one of Industrial Light & Magic's top programmers."

See Iowahawk Demolish Calame

iowahawk: It Takes a Big Man, Like Me, to Admit Mistakes Were Made: "The idiots are sitting right there telling tells you they're hiding something, which makes it even more newsworthy and juicy and scandalous! And when you print the story they start in with the vicious attacks, like you had whipped out your cell phone at Le Cirque or something. Always with the screaming and whining about national security 'secrets.' I mean, how freaking 'secret' can it be? For crissakes, it's been on the front page of the New York Times!"

Ned Lamont Republicans?

Stanley Kurtz on Election 2006 & Republicans on National Review Online: "Are we turning into the Ned Lamont Republicans? No, I’m not talking about Republicans racing for the exits in Iraq. I’m talking about the Ned Lamont-style party pure-o-crats of the Right: the folks who hope to punish insufficiently conservative Republicans by handing over Congress to the Democrats. At least Ned Lamont supporters once believed they could win the general election. Pure-o-cratic Ned Lamont Republicans, on the other hand, openly hope to lose; they are destroying their insufficiently pure party with eyes wide open, seriously intending to hand Nancy Pelosi the speakership, actually expecting to see the president’s hands tied by a dovish Democratic congress, perfectly willing to sweep away the last remaining barriers to unrestricted immigration, and doing it all in the belief that we’ll sail through all these calamities no worse for the wear."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Army Of Identical Scientists Demands Legislative Support For Cloning | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Army Of Identical Scientists Demands Legislative Support For Cloning | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "The benefits of human cloning touted by the LMSCA include ease of organ transplants and possible organ regeneration, mass telepathy, and coordination between pod brothers."

Mars Rover Beginning To Hate Mars | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Mars Rover Beginning To Hate Mars | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "'Spirit has been displaying some anomalous behavior,' said Project Manager John Callas, who noted the rover's unsuccessful attempts to flip itself over and otherwise damage its scientific instruments. 'And the thousand or so daily messages of 'STILL NO WATER' really point to a crisis of purpose.'

The 'robot geologist,' as NASA describes Spirit, has been operating independently for over 990 Martian sols—nearly the equivalent of three Earth years. However, scientists estimate that, in recent weeks, Spirit has been functioning on the level of a rover who has been on Mars for approximately 6,160 sols. "

Shuttle launch from ISS

SPACE.com -- Martian Life Could Have Evaded Detection by Viking Landers

SPACE.com -- Martian Life Could Have Evaded Detection by Viking Landers: "A chemical test used by the Mars Viking landers more than 30 years ago was not sensitive enough to detect signs of alien life even if it existed, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed soil from several harsh, Mars-like environments on Earth using the same gas spectrometry test employed by the Viking landers. But even in soil taken from areas teaming with microbial life, the tests failed to register any signs of organic material. Thus, 'the Martian surface could have several orders of magnitude more organics than the stated Viking detection limit,' the researchers write.

The finding, detailed in the current issue of the journal for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could have implications for future missions aiming to dig up signs of extinct or existing life on the Red Planet.

The new study could also explain the detection of low levels of carbon dioxide in some Martian soil by the Viking landers, a puzzling finding which some scientists have used to argue for life on Mars."

Kirsten Powers / Powers-Point

Kirsten Powers / Powers-Point: "I think the NY Times is a great newspaper, but they are not sacred. They make mistakes and when they do, I will feel free to speak out about it. Any responsible person would. And the same holds for CNN or any other news organization."

The Dilbert Blog: Good News Day

The Dilbert Blog: Good News Day: "My theory was that the part of my brain responsible for normal speech was still intact, but for some reason had become disconnected from the neural pathways to my vocal cords. (That’s consistent with any expert’s best guess of what’s happening with Spasmodic Dysphonia. It’s somewhat mysterious.) And so I reasoned that there was some way to remap that connection. All I needed to do was find the type of speaking or context most similar – but still different enough – from normal speech that still worked. Once I could speak in that slightly different context, I would continue to close the gap between the different-context speech and normal speech until my neural pathways remapped. Well, that was my theory. But I’m no brain surgeon."

Harold Ford Jr. on His Playboy Party

"I like football, I like girls."

If he'd have just said that the first time....

How Many?

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wonders never cease.

Thomas Lifson at American Thinker pointed to this Times Online article, Sweden's Muslim minister turns on veil. I've been wondering about the sudden Euroskepticism re: veils. The Times on line only hints at how potentially important this appointment is.
Nyamko Sabuni, 37, has caused a storm as Sweden’s new integration and equality minister by arguing that all girls should be checked for evidence of female circumcision; arranged marriages should be criminalised; religious schools should receive no state funding; and immigrants should learn Swedish and find a job.
There is no end of things to be surprised about in that sentence. There's the easy bit - Sweden has an "integration and equality minister". Huh? I'll have to research if this is a new development but it is not the important thing. The important thing is to listen what Nyamko Sabuni is saying. But first the obligatory nonsense that doesn't matter one little bit.
Supporters of the centre-right government that came to power last month believe that her bold rejection of cultural diversity may make her a force for change across Europe. Her critics are calling her a hardliner and even an Islamophobe.
Now then, on to what might potentially be the big development here.
...she argues for a total ban on veils being worn by girls under the age of consent, which is 15 in Sweden.

“Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a child should wear a veil; it stops them being children. By putting a veil on a girl you are immediately saying to the outside world that she is sexually mature and has to be covered. It’s wrong,” she said.

She's telling us something! She's telling us what the veil signifies - sexual maturity that makes the female, regardless of age, the property of males.
In Sweden she is best known for her suggestion that adolescent girls should have compulsory examinations to make sure they have not been subjected to genital mutilation. “It would enable us to prosecute people carrying out the practice,” she said.
She's telling us what happens to some very young Muslim girls, even in Sweden. It is sad that it requires a Muslim female "minister of integration and equality" to stand up and try to put an end to the women as property, genital mutilation, and forced marriages in a nation that has long prided itself for being at the forefront of women's rights. But at least it may be happening.

The fatwa has probably been issued and the hit men dispatched. Best wishes to her, she's braver than your average Euro minister, that's certain. The Dutch would have exiled her for being inflamatory enough to suggest that call for an end to genital mutilation. Don't want any trouble, after all.

The Blog | Richard Dawkins: Why There Almost Certainly Is No God | The Huffington Post

The Blog | Richard Dawkins: Why There Almost Certainly Is No God | The Huffington Post

"This sounds terrific, right up until you give it a moment's thought. You then realize that the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science. A universe with a god would be a completely different kind of universe from one without, and it would be a scientific difference. God could clinch the matter in his favour at any moment by staging a spectacular demonstration of his powers, one that would satisfy the exacting standards of science. Even the infamous Templeton Foundation recognized that God is a scientific hypothesis - by funding double-blind trials to test whether remote prayer would speed the recovery of heart patients. It didn't, of course, although a control group who knew they had been prayed for tended to get worse (how about a class action suit against the Templeton Foundation?) Despite such well-financed efforts, no evidence for God's existence has yet appeared."


(1) It's only a scientific hypothesis if its falsifiable; falsifiability implies there has to be an experiment that can disprove the hypothesis. A Superior Being who could construct the universe could construct it such that no such experiment exists, or could interfere with such an experiment to create a "false negative".

(2) "A universe with a god would be a completely different kind of universe from one without, ...." requires argument: I don't see any reason to assume this assertion. In fact, assume the contrary, ie, that a universe could be constructed by a Superior Being that was exactly identical to the universe we observe; that would be exactly a universe that was observably identical to ours except for the existence of the Superior Being. If it can't be observed, it can't be used in an experiment, and thus this is at least a statement outside the realm of "scientific" knowledge, and probably formally fallacious.

(3) "God could clinch the matter in his favour at any moment by staging a spectacular demonstration of his powers, one that would satisfy the exacting standards of science." Or could not. What's the argument here?

(4) "Even the infamous Templeton Foundation recognized that God is a scientific hypothesis - by funding double-blind trials to test whether remote prayer would speed the recovery of heart patients." I don't believe he correctly states the hypothesis of the Templeton study, because as I recall (I looked at the publication when it came out) it was stated as, essentially, "is prayer efficacious?" One might consider a study that showed effective prayer as some evidence for a Superior Being, but that's not the only way prayer might be effective; finding prayer not to be effective is not contrary evidence.

And that's only one paragraph.

Good polemic, though.

Clarkvision Photography - Resolution of the Human Eye

Clarkvision Photography - Resolution of the Human Eye

"Well duh!" News from Science

Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: Subliminal Nude Pictures Focus Attention

Animated Knots by Grog

Animated Knots by Grog

The Future Uncertain and Marginal Product

A while back, in The Coming Crisis In Citizenship, I noted a study suggesting that our colleges and universities are, perhaps, failing us. Evan of The Future Uncertain is, like many of us, determined to keep launching flares into the darkness. He uses those giant ones that get blasted out of mortar tubes and float down on parachutes to keep the terrain lit as well and long as possible.

He's had a much deeper look at the issue of educating our young citizens than I did. As is every post of his I've delved into, Is the Marginal Product of College Negative? is far ranging and quite detailed.

For those who share my interest in our nation's educational efforts it is, IMHO, well worth reading in full (but have some time to spend!)

Libertarian Thinking

TCS Daily - The Leadership Myth: "The conventional wisdom is that we would be better off if politically powerful leaders were less mediocre. Instead, my view is that we would be better off if mediocre political leaders were less powerful."

Alabama Liberation Front: RNC anti-Ford ad, deconstructed

Alabama Liberation Front: RNC anti-Ford ad, deconstructed: "Apparently the rule is that under no circumstance can Republicans make any allusion to the romantic/sexual activities of any Democrat without being guilty of some horrible '-ism':

  • Is the Democrat a woman? Sexism!
  • Is the Democrat gay? Homophobia!
  • Is the Democrat a racial minority? Racism!
  • And this rule holds true, even when the Democrat is a powerful, middle-aged, white male named Bill Clinton: Sexual McCarthyism!

The accusation of 'racism' toward this RNC ad is simply another liberal trick, dependent upon the MSM assumption that Republicans are evil and that everything Republicans do springs from malevolent impulses."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Airstrikes In Baghdad

Omar at Iraq the Model has a report that I haven't seen in the US press. I wonder if this ties to the fatwa signed down in Mecca on Friday. I thought that one interpretation of the fatwa could be that it was a hunting license for Sadrists. Omar seems to be hinting at that interpretation through his locating the air strikes as occurring in Sadr city.

Kat Continues

Kat, who I linked before, has been answering some guestions posed by a war skeptic. Her answers expand a good deal on the original post and give one a much better idea of what the reconstruction in Iraq is like. Because the news coverage of this aspect of the war has been totally worthless I highly recommend reading what she has to say at My Thinking Corner.

Second in importance were vital services, such as electricity or repairs to damaged water and sewer systems. This proved to be substantially more difficult than initially expected, partially due to war damage but largely due to long-term neglect under Saddam. For example, it was not unusual to replace an obviously damaged valve on a water supply system only to find that once pressure was placed on the balance of the line, three other valves (not to be found anywhere in Iraq) promptly blew, or whole sections of pipe split, or leaks developed around hundreds of packing joints and gaskets.

Yeah, that was for you civil engineering and construction geeks.

Update: (From MeaninglessHotAir) Kat's comments on Thinking Corner may well be the best thing you will ever encounter on this blog. Drop everything and read them now, and forget for a moment all the other dreck out there on television, in the newspapers, and, yes, even on this blog.

Ideas: Pornography and rape

Ideas: Pornography and rape

Easy access to pornography reduces rape.

Shrimp on a Treadmill

LiveScience.com Video Player: Shrimp on a Treadmill

Honest, you've gotta see this.

Fainting Goats

Would I lie to you?

Google "define: drama queen"

... and get a link to Sullivan.

Instapundit.com -: "Unlike Andrew, I've actually paid attention to this race, instead of merely forming phantoms of my own imagining. Which is why I voted as I did. In the meantime, I'll view his comments on politics with increased skepticism, given the ignorance and inattention on display here."

Auntie's White Guilt

Via Melanie Phillips:
A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.
At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

One veteran BBC executive said: 'There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness.' Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC's culture, that it is very hard to change it.'

In one of a series of discussions, executives were asked to rule on how they would react if the controversial comedian Sacha Baron Cohen known for his offensive characters Ali G and Borat - was a guest on the programme Room 101. On the show, celebrities are invited to throw their pet hates into a dustbin and it was imagined that Baron Cohen chose some kosher food, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Bible and the Koran. Nearly everyone at the summit, including the show's actual producer and the BBC's head of drama, Alan Yentob, agreed they could all be thrown into the bin, except the Koran for fear of offending Muslims.

In a debate on whether the BBC should interview Osama Bin Laden if he approached them, it was decided the Al Qaeda leader would be given a platform to explain his views.
And the BBC's 'diversity tsar', Mary Fitzpatrick, said women newsreaders should be able to wear whatever they wanted while on TV, including veils. Ms Fitzpatrick spoke out after criticism was raised at the summit of TV newsreader Fiona Bruce, who recently wore on air a necklace with a cross.

The full account of the meeting shows how senior BBC figures queued up to lambast their employer. Political pundit Andrew Marr said: 'The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.'

Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to 'correct', it in his reports. Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it 'no moral weight'.

Former BBC business editor Jeff Randall said he complained to a 'very senior news executive', about the BBC's pro-multicultural stance but was given the reply: 'The BBC is not neutral in multiculturalism: it believes in it and it promotes it.' Randall also told how he once wore Union Jack cufflinks to work but was rebuked with: 'You can't do that, that's like the National Front!' Quoting a George Orwell observation, Randall said that the BBC was full of intellectuals who 'would rather steal from a poor box than stand to attention during God Save The King'.

There was another heated debate when the summit discussed whether the BBC was too sensitive about criticising black families for failing to take responsibility for their children. Head of news Helen Boaden disclosed that a Radio 4 programme which blamed black youths at a young offenders', institution for bullying white inmates faced the axe until she stepped in. But Ms Fitzpatrick, who has said that the BBC should not use white reporters in non-white countries, argued it had a duty to 'contextualise' why black youngsters behaved in such a way.

Andrew Marr told The Mail on Sunday last night: 'The BBC must always try to reflect Britain, which is mostly a provincial, middle-of-the-road country. Britain is not a mirror image of the BBC or the people who work for it.' Daily Mail
So, my question for the day: what do you call people who are forced to pay - via licenses on every tv set - for a media outfit that promotes worldwide hatred of these very same people who are footing the bill? Melanie calls it cultural Stalinism. But I doubt we yet have words adequately to describe this evil and wide-ranging resentment of a given reality.

UPDATE, in the comments at Covenant Zone where I cross-posted this story, an anonymous person challenges me to post this link, a response by the BBC's Helen Boaden to the Daily Mail article quoted above. My response to Helen Boaden's nonsensical response can be found in the CZ post.

Marginal Revolution: Do violent movies cause violent crime?

Marginal Revolution: Do violent movies cause violent crime?: "No, at least not in the short run. Rambo gets the bad guys off the streets. And for a while they even seem to calm down: ...."

Language Log: The seventh question

Language Log: The seventh question: "I recall being taught in elementary school that a newspaper article is supposed to answer six questions. Some things have changed since I was a kid, and the most important one is the internet. So I'd like to suggest that the traditional list of six should be expanded to seven: who, what, where, when, why, how and URL. For all I know, those traditional six questions are the journalistic equivalent of the Eskimos' snow words, so let me put it more directly: reporters and editors, give me the *!%&@ URLs!*"

Seed: Science Finally Tackles Hypnosis

Seed: Science Finally Tackles Hypnosis: "The long-controversial practice of inducing a trancelike state through suggestion is getting a modern makeover by scientists armed with the latest neuroimaging tools and techniques. These researchers are beginning to offer evidence that, neurologically at least, hypnosis is entirely real."

Yeah, why?

The American Thinker: "Why are the Democratic African American candidates of so much greater interest to the national media than the Republican African American candidates running state wide this year?"

From the ISS

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Madrid Redux

Are we going to let the jihadis use death and mayhem to sway an election? I hope not. I think it will come back and bite us in some very unpleasant ways if we do.
Jed Babbin from an interview with M.Gen. Bill Caldwell:

There has been a lot of misreporting of what the president said to George Stephanopoulos who posed the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam (written by NYT columnist Tom Friedman). I asked Caldwell about his understanding of what the president said. He agreed with my characterization of the president's remark as being limited to comparing the enemies' attempts to influence US public opinion. Caldwell said, "We've already seen on jihadist websites that they've said US elections are coming and they want to inflict the maximum number of casualties to influence the US people" to get out of Iraq. Those saying that Bush agreed to any broader comparison between Iraq and Vietnam are reporting what they wanted to hear, not what the president said.

Will it make a difference?

From the Mudville Gazette

Iraqi religious leaders sign in Mecca a covenant to interdict spilling of Iraqi blood.

By Adil Fagher & Thergham Mohamed,

Tonight (Friday) in Saudi Arabia, Iraqi religious leaders sign a covenant to interdict spilling of Iraqi blood.

Iraqi TV channel AL-Iraqiah showed clips showing Iraqi Sunni and Shiite religious leaders signing a, In Mecca Saudi Arabia, covenant to interdict spilling of Iraqi blood. The Muslim Congress Organization hosted this event. Chairman of the MCO, Ikmal Aldien Auglu said, ‘the covenant which was signed interdicts killing, evicting, mocking, attacking houses of prayer of Muslims and non Muslims, the covenant also calls for crushing the rift between Sunni and Shiite and brings attention to the dangers of committing crimes in the name of religion or religious sect. The covenant also calls for national and religious unity and its preservation from those who wish to divide Iraqis. The covenant also declare all crimes committed in the name of religion in Iraq as a sin forbidden by God. The covalent condemns disgracing of Shiite or Sunnis and condemns the two sects denunciating each other. Auglu added, ‘the covenant also calls upon the Iraqi government to release all those who are innocent and give the accused just and speedy trials with swift punishments if guilt, that they serve as a deterrent to the rest. The covenant affirms the importance of Sunnis and Shiite to stand together for the sovereignty of Iraq and unity of its soil, and to end its occupation and work towards building Iraq’s economy infrastructure military and political structure’.

Amongst the dignitaries attending the signing of this covenant, is president of the Sunni Accord Ahmed Abdulghafoor Alsameraai and president of the Shiite Accord Adnan Alhaideri and Sheik Mohamed Mahmood Alsumed member of ‘Muslim Scholars Association’ (Sunni organization) and Sheik Sader Aldien Kubanchi member of ‘Supreme Council of Islamic Revelation in Iraq’ SCIRI (Shiite organization). It was noted that a representative of Alsistani and Muqtada Alsadar did not attend. However, they did send their endorsements of the covenant and its contents.

Which way will it go?

Will Iraq go forward or backward?

Amir Taheri has an alternative point of view to constant doom and gloom we see in the media.

Most Iraqis regard the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the dismantling of his machinery of war and oppression and the introduction of pluralist politics to Iraq as an historic success. The issue is how to consolidate that victory, not to snatch defeat from its jaw. Those challenging this historic victory are enemies of both the Western democracies and the Iraqi people.

Iraq today is the central battlefield in the global war between two mutually exclusive visions of the future. Yet the jihadists now know they can't win on that battlefield. After three years of near-daily killings, often in the most horrible manner imaginable, they've failed to alter Iraq's political agenda. Nor have they won control of any territory or even broadened their constituency.

The jihadists have suffered thousands of casualties, with many more captured by Coalition forces and the new Iraqi army and police. Despite more than 120 suicide operations, and countless attacks on civilian targets, the jihadists have been on the defensive since they lost their chief base at Fallujah last year. Their strategic weakness: They can't translate their killings into political gains inside Iraq.

Read it all.


Speaking of arrogance and stupidity

I would say that for any American diplomat who depends on the United States taxpayer for his living to go on AlJazeera and trash his country displays both.

I question the timing. And get a load of his debating partner. Talk about sutpidity, the Baathist wants Saddam back. This was a bad month in Iraq, hopefully when our elections are over it will settle down somewhat. Depending on who wins of course.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Offering an unusually candid assessment of America's enterprise in Iraq, a senior U.S. diplomat said the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq, but warned that failure in the violence-ridden Arab nation would be a disaster for the entire region.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera aired late Saturday, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department, also said the United States was ready to talk with any Iraqi group — excluding Al Qaeda in Iraq — to reach national reconciliation in the country, wracked by widening sectarian strife as well as an enduring insurgency.

"We tried to do our best (in Iraq) but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," he said.

"We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation," he said, speaking in Arabic from Washington. "The Iraqi government is convinced of this."

Fire his ass I say.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Refugees from a bad movie

That is what these people remind me of. Sister Toldjah finds a real gem over at Huffington's loony bin from Lynn Davis Lear:

Here are some questions: Are these guys simply narcissistic idiots Rove-ing around in some never-never land bubble or do they know something we don’t? Have they planned a grab bag nose punch of an October/November surprise? Or have Diebold, ES&S, and local state secretaries assured them that they will do “whatever it takes” to get a Republican Congress elected again? Or are they just planning to outspend us? Karl Rove recently told the Washington Times, “For most Americans, particularly the marginal voters who are going to determine the outcome of the election, it started a couple of weeks ago… Between now and the election we will spend $100 million in target House and Senate races in the next 21 days”. That is $30 million a week in 15 or 16 key races. Knowing this group, the answers must lie in a clever blitzkrieg [Note: Clever insertion of a Nazi reference, eh? It never fails. –ST] combo of all of the above.

When I asked Gore Vidal at dinner why the White House seemed so serene and at ease about the vote, he replied that, this time around, the Bush-Cheney henchmen could simply call on martial law. He glumly noted that we are so far down the road toward totalitarianism that, even if Democrats do win back the Congress, it would take at least two generations before the last six years of damage to the nation could be reversed. Gore frankly despaired that any amount of time could ever return the country to where and what it previously was. This prediction left me reaching for some Fernet Branca.

And her conversation with Gore Vidal has got me reaching for a gag bag. Continuing:

But whether it is hubris, loony tunes, or both, the White House’s freakish calm about the elections makes me as nervous as the hell we seem to be headed for. Therefore we should all be on alert. If for whatever reason we don’t win back Congress in November the only real answer will be to take to the streets.

Got that? It’s the same ol’ same ol’ we’ve come to expect from that far left, with the added threat of “taking to the streets” this time around if they lose.

Take it to the streets? Gore Vidal is going to take it to the streets? He might break a nail. What exactly are we going to recover from? The death camps? The concentration camps? The censorship? They live like royalty, do whatever they please and here they are whining about taking America back.

Back to what, where has it gone?

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. I did not read Blue Crabs until after I wrote my post. Really.


Dr. Sanity: THE MANIPULATION OF "NEWS" GOES INTO HYPERDRIVE: "Having been a psychiatrist for quite some time; and having specialized in dealing with the masters of emotional manipulation in the personality disordered realm, I can say without any doubt that I know when I am being manipulated.

And the manipulation of this 'news'--i.e., the artful and deliberate managing of what are purported to be objective 'facts' by the news media--has gone into hyperdrive as the November midterm elections approach."


Dr. Sanity: THE POLITICAL LEFT AND THEIR TOTALITARIAN DREAMS: "It also give new clarity to one of the issues that I have talked about on this blog repeatedly, and that is the complete betrayal by the political left in this country of the values and freedoms upon which the U.S. was founded.

How easily they deceived themselves (if it was deception at all) into thinking that they had more in common with the communist party leadership of the USSR than with the duly elected president of the U.S. How easily people like John Kerry supported and enabled the dictators of North Vietnam. Is it any susrprise at all that today, in our war on terror, that this same political party and the same deluded base that animates them see the terrorists as the oppressed victims and the US as the evil oppressors?"

Talk about "extremophiles"

Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: ET May Be A Microbe: Life Thrives Deep Beneath Sunlit Surface: "More than a mile and a half beneath the earth, deep in a sunless gold mine, water pools in a fracture heated, just barely, by the slow radioactive decay of uranium and thorium. That radiation is enough to split some water into its constituent hydrogen, and by combining the lightest element with geologically produced sulfate, a newly discovered microbe species thrives far from the light of the sun that sustains virtually all life. In fact, this newly discovered ecosystem has thrived for at least 20 million years, according to new testing reported in the October 20 Science."

This may be a "religious" opinion, but here's my prediction: everywhere in the universe, if there's liquid water, there's life.

Weather Report: Sun Rises in West, Chance of Flying Pigs

... in other news, Seneca recommends something Sullivan wrote.

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: The Left Versus Gays: "The outing crusade gains momentum. Look: I loathe the closet. I despise the hypocrisy in the Republican party. But a witch-hunt is a witch-hunt. If the gay left thinks it will advance gay dignity by using tactics that depend on homophobia to work, that violate privacy, that demonizes gay people, then all I can say is: they are wrong. They will regret it. It will come back to haunt them. And they should cut it out. The fact that their motives might be good is no excuse. Everybody on a witchhunt believes their motives are good. But the toxins such a witchhunt exposes, the cruelty it requires, and the fanaticism of its adherents are always dangerous to civilized discourse. What you're seeing right now is an alliance of the intolerant: the intolerant on the gay left and the intolerant on the religious right. The victims are gay people - flawed, fallible, even pathetic gay people. But they are still people. And they deserve better."

Harry's Place: Iranian Ultimatum Issued

Harry's Place: Iranian Ultimatum Issued: "Ahmadinejad is basically saying it doesn't matter whether countries attempt to engage in dialogue with the Islamic Republic or rattle sabres at it - he's going to encourage terrorism against the easiest target despite their choice of diplomatic approach.

His threats are worth bearing in mind by those who suppose that the Islamic Republic is a rational actor on the world stage and can be bought off with acts of kindness."

A Second Hand Conjecture » The Politics of Bad Faith

A Second Hand Conjecture » The Politics of Bad Faith: "When Ralph Peters, argues for such things he is a bloodthirsty warmonger who wants to kill more Muslims, with Greg the policy denotes him as a hard headed realist. I can only see one difference (not that they are two peas in a pod, there are notable differences, but that their policy prescriptions when it comes to this facet are similar, both advocate more force) from the point of view of someone who criticizes Mr. Peters so forcefully. Ralph Peters might criticize the President and this administration, but not with nearly the vitriol of Greg. If applying more force, increasing troops and combating militias to improve security does not mean Greg deserves the label warmonger, but others arguing for some variation of that who are not as vehement in denouncing this administration do deserve such criticism, then we are talking bad faith. It is not the policy that is the issue it is the political outcome. That is fine and pretty common, just don’t expect me to view such arguments with anything but contempt."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Something New

If you're a cartophile, if like me you love Google Earth, I draw your attention to the Virtual Earth website where Microsoft tonight quietly released very high-resolution imagery of the following cities: Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and San Jose. I suggest you take a look, see if you like it, and keep an eye on these cities in the next three weeks or so.

You heard it here first.

I think I'm in looooove

Kirsten Powers / Powers-Point: "this is a ridiculous argument in defense of outing gay (or allegedly gay) Republicans. Since when does bad behavior justify other bad behavior? 'Their entire political movement over the last 20 years has been fueled by sleazy sexual innuendo; dragging private sexual behavior into the public arena...'

Oh ok! So, let's do it too! It's sleazy and disgusting...so by all means let's start outing gay people. And all the examples listed in this blog deal with extramarital affairs. The outing of gay people is about what exactly? What is their 'moral' crime that is akin to adultery? Don't liberals believe that being gay is ok? Ahh...yes. But being gay and not thinking like liberals think is apparently 'immoral.' Who says so? The Liberal Police. Who will they target next?"

Here's how media bias works

BA jet seconds from disaster in US 'near collision' | the Daily Mail: "A packed British Airways jet was just seconds from disaster after plummeting out of the sky in a dramatic near miss over America, it has emerged.

BA flight 2166 carrying 175 terrified passengers, three pilots and 11 crew plunged 600 feet in a bid to avoid collision with another plane above it."

This is actually a lovely example because, for a change, it's not particularly political. But observe the phrasing: "plummeting out of the sky"; "174 terrified passengers"; "plunged 600 feet."

Sounds pretty scary, huh? But let's think about what the story actually says: the BA plane had been told to proceed from 16,000 feet to 20,000 when TCAS --- the collision avoidance system --- told the pilots it had detected a possible collision and told them to descend. The plane then descended --- "plummeted" --- from 16,000 feet to 15,400 feet. It was an unexpected maneuver, and four of the crew were knocked off their feet, and got bruised up. The person they interviewed said it "felt like turbulance."

Now, as a sometime pilot and damn near professional air traveler, here's how I'd describe it: "We were climbing out of Orlando when the pilot surprised us by descending suddenly for a couple of seconds. I thought it was just a bit of clear air turbulance, but the pilot said he had to maneuver to avoid another plane. A little exciting, and I guess a couple of flight attendants got knock off their feet, but we went on to London. Sort of exciting at the time, but no big deal."

What's the difference? The "colorful" verbs. "Plummeted from the sky" --- about 4 percent of its actual altitude. "Seconds from disaster" --- just like you're seconds from disaster when you have to make a sudden stop in traffic.

It's not the maneuver than changedc: it's the words. "Plummeted from the sky" is illusion. It's not false ... but it's not very much the truth either.


That is what the folks at CNN are as far as I am concerned.

The latest slap in the face our military has had to suffer at the hands of the news organization best known for shilling for Saddam.

SAN DIEGO The chair of the House Armed Services Committee asked the Pentagon today to remove C-N-N reporters embedded with U-S combat units.
The network televised portions of a video on Wednesday showing insurgent snipers targeting U-S military personnel.

Executives said the tape came to the network unexpectedly through contact with an insurgent leader.

Representative Duncan Hunter wrote in his letter that, quote, "C-N-N has now served as the publicist for an enemy propaganda film featuring the killing of an American soldier."

San Diego-area Republicans Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray also signed the letter.

C-N-N executives defended their decision to air the footage, saying its news value outweighed other concerns.

Just think maybe the wife or mother or father or friend or lover will get to see someone they loved killed on the evening news. This is not necessary. So far as I know Ernie Pyle did not embed himself with a Panzer division and then write up their exploits for the folks back home. Disgraceful.

Strong warning

German cottage destroyed by meteor - Yahoo! News: "BERLIN (Reuters) - A fire that destroyed a cottage near Bonn and injured a 77-year-old man was probably caused by a meteor and witnesses saw an arc of blazing light in the sky, German police said on Friday."

Media liberal?

Can You Trust The National Media?: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "Journalists from Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather never told the public they were liberal, and they always denied any liberal bias in the media. They claimed they just reported the news. Yet as the Media Research Center states, 'Since 1985, the percentage of Americans who perceive a liberal bias in the media has doubled from 22% to 45%. Even a plurality of Democrats now say the press is liberal.'

By far, the most insidious practice of the nearly 90% liberal-controlled national media is how they select which stories and facts to cover and promote, and the special slant they give to each story. More important are the stories they choose not to cover and which facts they omit because they don't support their story angle or political objectives."

In other news, sun sets in west.

France falls, again...

Historian Richard Landes has a blog full of material on the Mohammed Al-Durah affair in France. A court has just found that a French Jew who demonstrated, pretty believably to my mind, that a French journalist and tv network were engaged in fauxtography in 2000 and were thus somewhat responsible for the storm of Palestinian violence and worldwide Judeophobia that followed their "reportage", was actually being libellous. Since his opponents didn't even try to make their case, it seems the fix was in. People are calling this a repeat of the Dreyfuss affair; but this time with the Jew being judicially damned. Will France soon follow in Hades? Landes has background, here; and responses to the verdict here and here.

It is really hard to keep up optimism for France. However, every next step they take into the delusional, the closer they come either to destroying themselves for ever more, or to waking up and seeing the need for yet another republic and reformation. Who's to know where the latest leap into the mental illness of Judeophobia will take them. Will enough French start to fight for courts and state tv and politicians with some grasp on reality? Or will they give up, damn Israel and America, and turn over the nukes to those who will?

It doesn't happen often...

... but I actually agree with Kathryn Lopez at NRO:

The Corner on National Review Online: "Don't expect matters to get better under Democratic leadership. Don't kid yourself about the impact of staying home or protest voting."

Scoop: Lancet Iraq Study Flawed: Death Toll Too High

Scoop: Lancet Iraq Study Flawed: Death Toll Too High: "Researchers at Oxford University and Royal Holloway, University of London have found serious flaws in the survey of Iraqi deaths published last week in the Lancet.

Sean Gourley and Professor Neil Johnson of the physics department at Oxford University and Professor Michael Spagat of the economics department of Royal Holloway, University of London contend that the study’s methodology is fundamentally flawed and will result in an over-estimation of the death toll in Iraq.

->The study suffers from 'main street bias' by only surveying houses that are located on cross streets next to main roads or on the main road itself. However many Iraqi households do not satisfy this strict criterion and had no chance of being surveyed.

->Main street bias inflates casualty estimates since conflict events such as car bombs, drive-by shootings artillery strikes on insurgent positions, and market place explosions gravitate toward the same neighborhood types that the researchers surveyed.

->This obvious selection bias would not matter if you were conducting a simple survey on immunisation rates for which the methodology was designed.

->In short, the closer you are to a main road, the more likely you are to die in violent activity. So if researchers only count people living close to a main road then it comes as no surprise they will over-estimation of the death toll in Iraq.

->The study suffers from "main street bias" by only surveying houses that are located on cross streets next to main roads or on the main road itself. However many Iraqi households do not satisfy this strict criterion and had no chance of being surveyed.

->Main street bias inflates casualty estimates since conflict events such as car bombs, drive-by shootings artillery strikes on insurgent positions, and market place explosions gravitate toward the same neighborhood types that the researchers surveyed.

->This obvious selection bias would not matter if you were conducting a simple survey on immunisation rates for which the methodology was designed.

->In short, the closer you are to a main road, the more likely you are to die in violent activity. So if researchers only count people living close to a main road then it comes as no surprise they will over count the dead."