Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mullings An American Cyber Column By Rich Galen

Mullings An American Cyber Column By Rich Galen:
"# We have spoken before out the largely fictional 'good old days' when Senators battled on the floor and in Committee all day and then shared a bourbon and branch water after dark. Those are the glory days the national press corps pines for.

# I wonder how the national press would have responded to a Republican being publicly ugly to, say, Bill Clinton, at a White House Christmas reception.

# I don't wonder about that at all. He would have been held up as an example of everything which is wrong with the spiteful GOP.

# My Senator Jim Webb. How embarrassing."

Eugene Volokh on Constitution & Oaths on National Review Online

Eugene Volokh on Constitution & Oaths on National Review Online: "What’s more, the Constitution itself expressly recognizes the oath as a religious act that some may have religious compunctions about performing. The religious-test clause is actually part of a longer sentence: “The Senators and Representatives ... [and other state and federal officials] shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required ....” The option of giving an affirmation rather than oath reflects the judgment — an early multiculturalist judgment — in favor of accommodating members of some denominations (such as Quakers) who read the Bible as generally prohibiting the swearing of oaths.

The affirmation option was thus one tool to make sure that the law didn’t exclude people of certain religious groups from office, but rather let them retain their religious culture while participating in American civic life. The religious-test clause was another tool. The Constitution itself — a pretty important part of the “value system underl[ying] American civilization” — expressly makes clear that elected officials need not take oaths of office with their hands on any book.

So the Constitution thus already expressly authorizes people not to swear at all, but to affirm, without reference to God or to a sacred"

How to say "up yours!" in Turkish

BBC NEWS | Europe | Pope makes Turkish mosque visit: "The demonstrators warned that any hint of a prayer there would be deeply offensive, but the Pope refrained from any religious gesture, such as praying or crossing himself.

The tour of the Blue Mosque - across the square from Hagia Sophia - was a last-minute addition to the schedule.

Having removed his shoes, the Pope paused for a full two minutes, eyes closed in prayer, standing side-by-side with the Mufti of Istanbul and the Imam of the Blue Mosque.

Pope Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, is the only other pontiff to have visited a mosque, during a trip to Damascus in 2001."

"...makes it embarrassing to be a right-wing whackjob."

COUNTERCOLUMN: With your host, Ali Bubba: "Dennis Prager is writing that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should not be allowed to swear his oath on a Koran.

There is no constitutional reason Representative Keith Ellison should not take his oath of office on a Koran. I'm curious to see whether Senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, took his oath of office on a Tanakh or Torah, rather than a full Old and New Testament Bible.

This is the kind of thinking that makes it embarrassing to be a right wing whackjob."

- Prometheus: WMO Consensus Statement on Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Archives

- Prometheus: WMO Consensus Statement on Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Archives: "The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has just released two updated statements on the state of science on tropical cyclones and climate change. The statements have been released today through the Instituto Meteorologico Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica. Anyone referencing this post or the statements, please do acknowledge them as the source.

We are pleased that the WMO statements are 100% consistent with the views on this subject that we have been sharing over the past few years. In particular, it should now be completely unambiguous that those who are representing hurricane impacts as being related to greenhouse gas emissions, without acknowledging that this is not a widely shared perspective among scientists, are either cherry picking the relevant science or misrepresenting the community consensus. As a matter of policy, those interested in addressing the impacts of tropical cyclones on people and economies necessarily should be focued on adaptive responses. We have obviously made this case for a while, now there is no ambiguity."

Civil War is impossible in Iraq and other thoughts

There. I said it. Going against the CW is a bit scary but I'm doing it anyway.

Setting aside the fact that Iraq has a functioning government (ONE government, not TWO like in our own Civil War) even though its military isn't quite yet up to speed, my main reason for thinking civil war is impossible in Iraq has to do with the society itself.

The sunni/shia distinction is a non-starter among most Iraqis. If more people knew Iraqi society they could figure this out for themselves. Sunni marry shia and have kids some of whom are sunni, some shia. It's just not a big huge deal to most Iraqis. Not only families themselves, but communities are mixed all over the country. Many baathists were shia. I wonder how many Americans are aware of that.

Makes it kind of difficult for the sectarian violence to gain a life of its own and spread throughout society.

And it argues against any kind of partition as well. How do you separate husbands from wifes, parents from children, if you have a shia Iraq, a sunni Iraq, and a kurdish Iraq?

Besides which, the Iraqi people themselves come from all over and few can trace forebears from only mesopotamia. Many from Syria, from Jordan, from India even, and from various baltic areas. They have a bond, though, and it's not Islam, it's Iraq.

There is sectarian violence, no question. And when you think of the provocations instigated by al Qaeda (via Zarqawi), especially the bombing of the Mosque of the Golden Dome in Samarra, you might wonder why the violence isn't worse--as bad as it is. Iraqi society itself is probably the answer. And never forget that much of the violence in Iraq is NOT sectarian, it is still baathist/sadaamist and al Qaeda.

I just learned (from a presentation on C-SPAN) that Muktada al-Sadr freaked out that he was being blamed for all the sectarian violence so he fingered all those groups claiming to be his that aren't actually a part of his army. Anyone can put on a black hood, grab an AK-47, and claim to fight for him.

We've got the list, and those are the groups we're currently targetting in shia neighborhoods.

(I guess we're not after Sadr himself--I suppose we figure he can be dealt with politically.)

As for the Iraqi people 'fighting back' and anyone who may think they're all cowards and could care less:

(1)The army no longer runs away, they know who their enemies are: former baathists/sadaamists and al qaeda. They have a government and it is functioning and the army is fighting for Iraq.

(2)The 'regular' people of Iraq are going about their daily lives. Still buying stuff, going to work, going to school, getting married, having parties. They're not sitting at home afraid of the dark.

And that is the best way for the millions of Iraqis to deal with the problems. Let the government and the coalition handle it. It's their job.

It is true that many Iraqis have fled Iraq. But I think it's odd that most of them are the richer folks with enough money to buy up property in Jordan (which is causing rents to go up in Amman which has the Jordanians mightily annoyed). These couldn't be former baathists and relations by any chance?

Enough for now.

Another Class Act in the Senate

The soon to be Senator of Virginia, Jim Webb, made an ass of himself at a White House function: This is an excerpt from a column by Emmet Tyrrell over at Townhall.

His campaign was a prolonged demonstration of his caddishness. He who had called President Bill Clinton's administration the most corrupt in modern history invited Clinton to campaign with him. He actually exploited his own son's present service in Iraq for political advancement. While campaigning he paraded around in his son's combat boots! There were others in the 2006 election with sons in Iraq. One is a leading opponent of the war. None put a son in such an embarrassing and potentially dangerous position. Once elected, Webb took his boorishness to the White House.

Invited there with other freshmen members of Congress, Webb refused to stand in the presidential receiving line. He would not have his picture taken with the president. "How's your boy?" the Washington Post reports the president asking him later during the reception. Webb replied that he would like to get the troops home, a point appropriate for the campaign trail but not at a White House social event. "That's not what I asked," the president persisted, "How's your boy?" "That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," the unpleasant Webb replied, and he cut his host. This the Post portrayed as part of Webb's "unpolished style." "I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," he told a reporter. Well, then a gentleman does not accept the president's invitation to the White House and no one told him he would have to display the picture anywhere.

According to The Hill, Webb even told a source for the paper that "he was so angered by this (encounter) that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief." Webb claims that one of his heroes is President Andrew Jackson. I too admire Old Hickory, but I at least recognize the rough ways of the early 19th century are not to be reprised in the 21st century. What next, will the junior senator from Virginia begin challenging those who arouse him to a duel? What century does Webb think he is living in? Believe me Sen. Webb is going to be a vast source of amusement, and he will fit in nicely with the unpleasant pols whose political base is the Angry Left.

I have said it before and I shall be saying it again, often politics is not a rational act. Increasingly, especially in the Democratic Party, it encourages behavior that is abnormal: politicians windsurfing to assure their constituencies that they are just like them or ranting to show how genuinely human they are. These pols play on the fantasies of mildly delusional voters. In the case of the unpleasant Webb, the delusions are a bit over the top. It makes me wonder why his stay at the Department of the Navy was so brief. Did the Reaganites shove him out? Did one of them make the mistake of taking him to dinner? Or did they catch him acting up at a White House reception that has gone unreported? Some reporters should have looked into this.

What a maroon.

The meaning of life

"So... come here often?"

TCS Daily - A Conversation with Bjorn Lomborg

TCS Daily - A Conversation with Bjorn Lomborg: "t's at the stage where people are saying its even worse than we thought yesterday, and that it is going to be catastrophic, and chaotic and disruptive - all these kinds of words. This has actually led to one of the lead modellers in the UK to come out and say it's bizarre that before we had the debate between the climate change skeptics and the scientists, and that now we have the debate between the scientists, who are now becoming the skeptics, and those who are saying it's all going to end in chaos, when it is going to do nothing of the sort - and this is not what the UN panel is telling us.

Perhaps this is most clear when you look at the movie from Al Gore. Everything he says is technically true. He says for instance that if Greenland melts, sea levels will rise about 20 feet. This is technically true. But of course the very evocative imagery of seeing Holland disappear under the waves - or New York, or Shanghai - leaves the impression that this is all going to happen very soon. Where in fact the UN climate panel says that the sea level rise over the next 100 years is going to be 30 cm - about 20 times less than he talks about. So there is a dramatic difference between what we're being told and what we're actually seeing. Which is also why I am writing a new book which comes out next fall on climate chang"

And They Said it would not Happen

Bush and Maliki meet to discuss the future. Bush vows continued American support. Of course there were those among us who said Sadr would not let the meeting take place. There were also those who said the leaked memo from Hadley stating dissatisfaction with Maliki would kill all cooperation. And yet somehow the meeting took place and after more than two hours of discussion the President still stood firm. Unlike some other people out there Bush never acts as if his hair is on fire.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

YAAQ: Yet Another Accent Quiz

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The South
North Central
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

United Nuclear- Radioactive Isotopes

United Nuclear- Radioactive Isotopes: "In comparison, Amercium-241 is a similar toxic Alpha radiation emitter and instead of a half life of 138 days like Polonium-210 has, it has a half life of over 450 years.
It is far more toxic - and there is 10 times more than the 'exempt quantity' amount in every smoke detector in your home.

If you really wanted tom poison someone, you would of course have to come up with a way to remove the invisible amount of material from the exempt sources - which is just about physically impossible and combine them together. Of course you would also need that 15,000 exempt sources.
In addition, there are dozens of other far more toxic materials, like Ricin and Abrin, which can easily be made using common plant material, and are also undetectable as a poison and untraceable.
Although it obviously works, Polonium-210 is a poor choice for a poison...
not to mention an order for 15,000 sources would look a little suspicious, considering we sell about 1 or 2 sources every 3 months.

Make sure you are truly knowledgeable about a subject before you start
repeating and spreading potentially incorrect information related to it."

"As ye sow, so shall ye..."

X-Men illustrator dies in Superman pajamas - "COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) -- Wearing Superman pajamas and covered with his Batman blanket, comic book illustrator Dave Cockrum died Sunday.

The 63-year-old overhauled the X-Men comic and helped popularize the relatively obscure Marvel Comics in the 1970s. He helped turn the title into a publishing sensation and major film franchise.

Cockrum died in his favorite chair at his home in Belton, South Carolina, after a long battle with diabetes and related complications, his wife Paty Cockrum said Tuesday.

At Cockrum's request, there will be no public services and his body will be cremated, according to Cox Funeral Home. His ashes will be spread on his property. A family friend said he will be cremated in a Green Lantern shirt."

"Mr. Rangel, you're an idiot."

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "I am a former Navy pediatrician. I went to medical school on a Navy scholarship and was on active duty for five years. I served stateside during Gulf War I. I did my internship and residency at Bethesda Naval Hospital and was taught by many very fine doctors, all active duty. I was stationed at three different Navy hospitals and met hundreds and hundreds of military personnel, most of them enlisted.

All I can say is: Mr. Rangel, you're an idiot."

Setting the Record Straight.

The DoD has set up a website for the purpose of correcting errors about the military. Too bad it is necessary.

If, instead of the English language’s greatest dramatist, William Shakespeare was a trenchant op-ed columnist bashing out a quick response to Iranian

If, instead of the English language’s greatest dramatist, William Shakespeare was a trenchant op-ed columnist bashing out a quick response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s open letter to the American people… (The Sanity Inspector)

I can't bear to blow the punchline. Pop over and have a look.

Words of Inspiration from TR

This came to me today in the Trump University newsletter, though you all may have heard it, it is worth re-reading from time to time.
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." - Teddy Roosevelt Katharine Ham's Blog Katharine Ham's Blog: "Horrible things happen in Iraq. I make no attempt to deny that. Terrible violence happens there every day. But just because this incident could have happened in Iraq, doesn't mean AP reporters are any less obligated to make sure they've got it right. Given that many/most of Hussein's comments to the media have come through al-Bashir, and that CENTCOM says Hussein's not a police officer, I'd think AP would be interested in finding out a lot more about him and al-Bashir."

The Real Inconvenient Truth

I am experimenting with a new politcal format I call "The 2 Minute Direct Appeal to Reason"

Enjoy, and tell me what you think.

A Clear Eyed View

Andrew McCarthy has written a short but very clear analysis of the fundamental error impeding progress in the War on Terror. He identifies the crux of the matter in this paragraph:
Islamic countries, moreover, are not rejecting Western democracy because they haven’t experienced it. They reject it on principle. For them, the president’s euphonious rhetoric about democratic empowerment is offensive. They believe, sincerely, that authority to rule comes not from the people but from Allah; that there is no separation of religion and politics; that free people do not have authority to legislate contrary to Islamic law; that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, and men to women; and that violent jihad is a duty whenever Muslims deem themselves under attack … no matter how speciously.
Further explication of the truly parasitical nature of Islam isn't really necessary. The world is fortunate that the parasite has evolved into two antagonistic strains, each willing to feed on the other. Encouraging each strain to make a full meal at home while working on containment measures may be the best that can be done for the moment.

I wonder when Grant and Sherman will be brought in to replace Casey and Abizaid? Soon, I hope.

Level of Incompetence Achieved

In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close. I do not intend to run for president in 2008.

—Senate Majority Leader William Harrison "Bill" Frist (R-TN)

Don Surber: Why we fight. Why we must win

Don Surber: Why we fight. Why we must win: "I am no damned fool either. When people tell me bring the troops home because they are for peace, I realize they don't get it.

The way to end terrorism is to democraticize the world, not cower in our corner of the world and ignore it."

Gingrich on the First Amendment

Captain's Quarters: "[I]t isn't difficult to defend the First Amendment in principle, and we need to do that now. The First Amendment has always had an exception for speech that incites a movement to violently overthrow the government of the United States, and I'm all for enforcing that. However, if Gingrich believes that we can win the war by silencing American citizens, then he is fighting the wrong war on behalf of the wrong principles. All he is doing is replacing one bogeyman (political corruption) for another (terrorism); in essence, he's no different from McCain.

The remedy for bad speech is more speech. The solution to radical mosques is to enforce immigration laws and to tighten visa requirements to keep radicals from entering the US. If people want to advocate for terrorist attacks and the violent overthrow of our elected government, then they have already broken the law, and it requires no sacrifice from Americans to prosecute such people. Free speech and religious freedom did not cause terrorism; in fact, the lack of both causes it. If Gingrich wants to offer the hair of the dog as a solution, then he will find himself very lonely on the campaign trail for the next two years.


Dear Associated Press:

On Nov. 24, 2006, your organization published an article by Qais Al-Bashir about six Sunnis being burned alive in the presence of Iraqi Police officers. This news item, which is below, received an enormous amount of coverage internationally.

We at Multi-National Corps - Iraq made it known through MNC-I Press Release Number 20061125-09 and our conversations with your reporters that neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. A couple of hours ago, we learned something else very important. We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.

Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city’s Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.

I know we have informed you that there exists an MOI edict that no one below the level of chief is authorized to be an Iraqi Police spokesperson. An unauthorized IP spokesperson will get fired for talking to the media. While I understand the importance of a news agency to use anonymous and unauthorized sources, it is still incumbent upon them to make sure their facts are straight. Was this information verified by anyone else? If the source providing the information is lying about his name, then he ought not to be represented as an official IP spokesperson and should be listed as an anonymous source.

Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was. MNC-I and MNF-I are always available and willing to verify events and provide as much information as possible when asked.

Very respectfully,
LT Dean

Michael B. Dean
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
MNC-I Joint Operations Center
Public Affairs Officer

From Austin Bay

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Corner on National Review Online

The Corner on National Review Online: "[P]erhaps the most interesting so-far-unnoticed aspect of the [Alcee Hastings] story is that so much political pressure built up on Capitol Hill while the nation's two leading newspapers were looking the other way."

AmbivaBlog: You Can Go Home Again

AmbivaBlog: You Can Go Home Again: "Actually, this one of the things that inclines me to think we do not live in an accidental universe. Why should the brain have this marvelous capacity for consoling time travel? According to Dawkins-Dennett-Darwin-Dogma (try saying that three times fast), it had to have survival value. Nostalgia, memory, and dreams must have contributed somehow to the will to live, to survive hardship. Yet Jacques writes in his book about how he refused himself the luxury of homesickness when he was a teenage prisoner in Russia, because he sensed that to dwell on home would weaken him. He saw many people die that way. He chose, rather, a cold-eyed realism.

Here he is now, helpless, confused, out of control of his own body, in what would seem to be misery, and he's smiling in his sleep because he's been given back the childhood that was ripped away from him over 60 years ago. This gift has no survival value now. Not even in the long term, in the medium term, he's not going to survive, and he's certainly not going to reproduce. I'm sorry, but this is more than merely a material brain in a material world. This is something like mercy, something like a soul."

The ghastly predictability of nihilist violence in Lebanon and Iraq. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

The ghastly predictability of nihilist violence in Lebanon and Iraq. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "The objectionable thing about the proposed Baker-Hamilton 'talks' is not that they are talks but that they give the impression of looking for someone to whom to surrender. And they have, apparently, no preconditions. It would be an excellent thing to have direct negotiations with Iran, for instance, with all matters on the table. But if the mullahs did not have to sacrifice their ongoing nuclear deception in order to get to that table, then all the efforts of the Europeans, the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to get them to do so would have been shown to be risible. With Syria, there is an even more intelligible precondition to be announced. Most people are unaware of this fact, but Damascus has always refused to recognize Lebanon as an independent state. There is no Syrian Embassy in Beirut. Implicitly and explicitly, this suggests that the country is regarded as an actual or potential part of a 'Greater Syria.' Is it really too much to demand that Syria acknowledge the self-determination, or 'right to exist,' of a fellow member of the Arab League? "

Dale Carnegie Lesson, Charlie Rangel Edition

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: " My father's brother served on the USS Louisville in World War II, and his turret was struck by a kamikaze during the Battle of Surigao Strait. He was grievously wounded. Another uncle spent a miserable year of service in Korea in 1951. I guess you could say that my family has sacrificed a lot for this nation. So when I hear Rep. Rangel imply, in essence, that my son, father and uncles served only because they had no other economic choices or were too stupid to know what they were doing, I get angry.

As for the issue of the Iraq war, how dare Mr. Rangel denigrate my son and his fellow soldiers as nothing but a bunch of uneducated, patsy, losers, being manipulated by an evil George Bush? He makes their sacrifice appear to be that born of ignorance and poor upbringing, and I am deeply resentful of his attitude. My son is not stupid, and there are plenty of economic opportunities where we live. It is apparent that Mr. Rangel perceives himself as smarter than my poor dumb son, who voluntarily joined the military and who is honored to serve our nation in spite of Mr. Rangel's contempt."

What Would Reagan Do?

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "This view was apparent in Reagan's public statements well before he became President. In one of his radio addresses, in November 1977, he wondered about what he called 'the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion, or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won't do? One thing is certain in this hungry world: No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.' As a Californian, Reagan understood the role of immigrant labor in agriculture.

In 1980, according to the book 'Reagan: His Life in Letters' (page 511), the then-Presidential candidate wrote to one supporter that 'I believe we must resolve the problem at our southern border with full regard to the problems and needs of Mexico. I have suggested legalizing the entry of Mexican labor into this country on much the same basis you proposed, although I have not put it into the sense of restoring the bracero program.' The bracero program was a guest-worker program similar to the one now being proposed by President Bush. It was killed in the mid-1960s, largely due to opposition from unions."

Update: a comment from Terrye, proving once again that she's the smartest of the bunch of us:
"And I can not imagine Reagan building a wall. His thing was tearing them down."

Tancredo shoots other foot | 11/27/2006 | Congressman calls Miami a `Third World country': "''Look at what has happened to Miami,'' the WorldNetDaily quotes Tancredo as saying in an interview. ``It has become a Third World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America. You would certainly say you're in a Third World country.''

The remarks drew an instant rebuke from Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who called Tancredo ''flat out wrong'' and extended an invitation for him to come and judge the city for himself.

''I invite my friend, Tom, to visit beautiful Miami, my hometown, and experience firsthand our hospitality,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``Come on down, Tom, the water's fine!''

Miami, Ros-Lehtinen said, is a ``world class city where diversity is celebrated. Here people have the opportunity to meet folks from across the globe and honor different cultures. Miami-Dade County is home to many outstanding universities, is headquarters to international businesses and has a vibrant economy.''"

Some good points

Dean Barnett makes some very good points about Iraq, however I have to disagree with this one:

President Bush has at times been a great leader in the “war on terror.” At other times, he’s been intellectually absent. We need leadership now. Someone needs to explain the stakes to the American people and what this fight is all about. Someone needs to explain that there will be a lot of death and suffering ahead, and unfortunately it won’t be just the enemy doing the dying and suffering. The President has two years left and no further campaigns to concern himself with. This would be an ideal, albeit belated, time to explain to the American people what’s going on, and how our real enemy is a lot more numerous and dangerous than the cave dwelling loons in Waziristan.

Yet since the midterms the President has been totally missing except when offering some annoying pabulum about raising the minimum wage.

Just today Bush said nothing less than victory would suffice. But the larger point I think is the assertion that Bush has not explained the war to Americans. Time and again Bush has spoken about this war, so often that his critics have claimed he just repeats himself. And yet other critics seem to think that another speech will do the trick. As if all Bush has to do to offset the avalanche of negative press is to explain what the fight is all about. Well frankly, if people have not gotten some idea thus far, they are not listening.

And another one bites the dust

I shudder to think what the next two years will be like if Pelosi screws up as bad after she is sworn in as she has thus far. First Murtha gets nixed and now Hastings gets the news he will not be heading the Intel Committee. Harman? No.... probably Reyes. I wonder just what Jane did to Nancy? Meowwwww.

Distrustful? Who us?

The Anchoress has trust issues:

So, who are the rubes here, the folks in the press who use questionable information and pictures to tell their stories, or the bloggers who check this stuff out at the risk of being called “partisans” (snort! Hello, Kettle? Black!) and being lectured to about making “premature” assertions.

Premature. You know. Like all year we read that Bush’s prescription plan is…a fiasco. but yesterday we read Success of Drug Plan Challenges Democrats and some in the press suggested that the Dems don’t need to fix what works well and is cost-efficient. Was the press premature in describing the plan Bush signed “a fiasco” and more?

I have never forgotten Evan Thomas pronouncing that the press would give Kerry/Edwards “ten to fifteen percent” more votes than they would have ordinarily gotten. And they did it, too. John Kerry was such an awful candidate the 2004 election should never have been as close as it was, (and the dubious vote in Wisconsin and elsewhere never were really scrutinized). We heard the press talk to everyone, right down to the ANG Dentist, about Bush’s “fake” service (although little of his moronic skill in flying the notoriously difficult F102 fighter jets), but never anything on the legitimate questions surrounding John Kerry’s own (”heroic”) service.

Gee…why would those “right-wing bloggers” be so damn suspicious of the press? The press is getting almost everything right…just a few little oopsies and boo-boos here and there…right?

I a meeean old right-wing blogger, to bring all this up, I know. Except I still believe I am a classical liberal at heart, searching for a home. And I’m still an idealist. I still want to believe that our free press is indeed free and not encumbered by agendas, partisan-hackery, laziness and some malicious intent. I want to believe that when someone like Vaughn Ververs (a good writer whom I like very much) writes, “at least the media is focused on Iraq” that this might be a good thing, holding some promise, and not a shudder-inducing moment helping to create a real fiasco.

As always, read it all.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Belmont Club: Strategy and Tactics

The Belmont Club: Strategy and Tactics: "Sometimes I think one of the main swindles of the media coverage of the War on Terror was to ascribe to tactics the faults of strategy. There were endless discussions about oil spots, more troops, less troops, sophisticated political ploys etc. But did the many of the critics really want to win? If not in Iraq, then what about in Kosovo and Afghanistan, places where they were presumably committed to victory?"

Another Baghdad Bob

From Protein Wisdom :

From Curt at Flopping Aces comes the news many of us quietly expected: Centcom has confirmed that Capt. Jamil Hussein, the primary source for the recent kerosene mosque murder reports—and for a whole host of reports of Shia massacres recounted by the AP—is neither an employee of Iraq’s Ministry of Interior nor is he a police captain.

In short, the AP has been relying on a bogus source for much of its reporting on Shia violence against Sunnis since at least April.

For those who continue to suggest that the mainstream press has a negligible impact on elections, consider that the majority of Americans who bothered to pay any attention whatsoever to this story will be left with an account of horrific sectarian violence against women and children—and the belief that sectarian strife in Iraq is not only inexorable and savage, but pandemic.

Underlying this reportage, then, is an unseemly subtext: that Arabs in Iraq—and perhaps even Arabs in general—are incapable of working toward a free society, one that, through a series of ratified political documents and elections, has merely pretended to be taking its first tentative steps toward the acceptance of a baby pluralism. Consequently, the blood and treasure spent in Iraq has never been worth the cost, and—our failure now all but imminent thanks to a genetic or systemic flaw in the Arab constitution—we should therefore be looking for a way to retreat with honor. Or perhaps a way to reinstall Saddam Hussein. You know, to stabilize things.

Whether this narrative is the product of willful distortion or merely the laziness that comes with being fed stories that match your preconceptions is, in effect, beside the point—though the former is clearly more despicable, and, should it prove to be the case, has the practical effect of undermining a representative democracy that can only work properly if citizens are being given accurate accountings of events by those purporting to do so.

I can remember a time when I actually believed that the media had two sources for its stories and that they were too principled to deliberately lie to us. Those days are over.

Where the French cops don't go.

Interesting looking at the Zones Urbaines Sensibles maps. In the case of Paris, you can at times see the Pruitt-Igoeish central planning mentality from the air, including apartment blocks sandwiched between freeways. In others, it is the older mixed use, working class sections of the north end of town that are now on the skids. It appears that large swaths between the Gard du Nord and Père Lachaise and extending south to Blvd. Haussman and Place de la Republique are now off limits. Not good.

Confederate Yankee: On Non-Civilians

Confederate Yankee: On Non-Civilians: "In asymmetrical warfare, does the status of civilian always exist for non-militants, or should there be a new classification to account for those somewhere between active militancy and those that are truly non-participatory?

I'd opine that the Palestinian women in the Greenberg story above, by voluntarily interjecting themselves into a projected conflict area as human shields as partisans acting on behalf of Hamas militants, have surrendered their rights to be defined as 'civilians.' They are ideologically-aligned with terrorist organizations, but that alone does not make them loose their protected status as civilians. Nor does the fact that they are human shields remove their protected status, as human shields can be involuntary.

No, what should remove their status as 'civilians' is that they have willfully interjected themselves into a conflict with the express intent of providing immediate tactical support for a terrorist group. Their purposeful decision to run interference for terrorists should not in any way prevent an Israeli military response."

Big toys for big boys

The Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine.

Report: Mining of bank data broke European law

Report: Mining of bank data broke European law: "The United States' access to data on international bank transfers, granted by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), violated the privacy laws of the European Union, stated the initial opinion of the Article 29 Working Party, a government advisory group created to study privacy issues."

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "In the wake of Litvinenko's death, the West must insist on cooperation from the FSB in finding his killers. If that is not forthcoming, it should be assumed that the murder of Litvinenko was ordered by the Russian regime.

Under those circumstances, not only should Russia be expelled from the G-8 but the whole structure of mutual consultation and cooperation would need to be re-evaluated. This is not just a matter of refusing to trivialize a murder. It is also a vital political obligation. Russians of all types are watching to see whether the West will simply swallow this crime or finally react to the rampant criminalization of Russian society. There are forces in Russia that want the country to be part of the West. But to back them, we need to demonstrate that we have moral values that we defend. To do less would be to abandon Russia to the forces of nihilism and obscurantism."

Please, let it be true.

“Journalism’s state secrets.” Now what could those be? It’s a kind of insiders’ code. VandeHei and Harris are serving notice that they won’t be bound by certain gentleman’s agreements that have settled over political reporting in the big leagues, the most important of which is: you don’t name your sources, and you don’t try to name the other fellow’s either. There are deals cut all the time: exclusive information in exchange for reporting only part of that information. All players are dirty.

What VandeHei and Harris are saying is: game is up, guys. Those deals are news, we know how it works, and we don’t have the “institutional bias” that permits the Post and the Times and the Journal to tolerate the gentleman’s agreements, which after all are agreements to bury the story of who leaked what and why, to what effect. This, I believe, is where they think they can blow the lid off the political reporting game and generate some shock and awe for their new venture...
-- Jay Rosen.

Ah, it was never fair and balanced that was needed. It was the promise of money and status for spilling the beans. Sell my grandmother? Depends on the price. I love it. BTW, the Post's Halperin is in on this too. Hugh Hewitt interviewed Halperin recently about his new book, The Way to Win, coauthored with Harris, and during the discussion Halperin was talking about bias in the News room and the need to do somethin about it. I'm beginning see dots here. Dots, dots, dots. Jack Shafer at Slate has more details on these happenings.

This looks like the second coming of the internet to my naive, non-business eye. As the traditional newspapers cut and scrimp to preserve what remains of a nearly 100 year old model, there is a rush to stake out property in the new country. The general area of new "news" is even becoming crowded. Pajamas is taking a shot at it. So too, I think, is Powerline. And that is not to mention all the newspapers and magazines already online. This particular venture strikes me as targeted at the 2008 elections and providing something almost like a political news temp agency. So in this case there seems to be specialization to a particular news product provided by equally specialized journalists. And Powerline reports "that the Washington Post will name Susan Glasser, currently the head of the paper's Outlook section, to be in charge of all news sections at the Post." That looks to me like the Post is also taking closer aim at a slightly different market than before, although Glasser may simply have been the best gualified of those left behind.

With all these startups and changes going on, at some point there will be a shakeout and we will see who lucked out. And I say lucked out, because the only way to find out what is going to work is to try lots of things and after the fact dub those who led the successful outfits masters of the universe. Change is coming, I think things can only get better. I was going to qualify that and say that things might get worse, but after accidentally watching a CNN segment the other day, I don't think that is possible.

BTW, I think VanderLeun has been doing a great job over at Pajamas, It's really starting to click for me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Don Surber: Dem victory brings chaos to Iraq

Don Surber: Dem victory brings chaos to Iraq: "It always amazes me, but no longer surprises, how the “peaceniks” always wind up creating more chaos, more deaths and more misery. The American pullout in Vietnam led not to peace, but to the fall of Saigon and the killing fields of Cambodia, where evil men killed 2 million people."

A question of translation

This is really interesting.

I was looking at Pajamas Media, which had a story about Augusto Pinochet releasing a statement on this 91st birthday. Here's the important paragraph, as PJM ran it originally:
“Today, near the end of my days, I want to say that I harbor no rancor against anybody, that I love my fatherland above all and that I take political responsibility for everything that was done which had no other goal than making Chile greater and avoiding its disintegration.” (Yahoo AP)
Emphasis theirs, by the way.

When I read it, it rang false. My Spanish isn't really strong, even though it's arguably one of my native languages, because I really pretty much stopped speaking it when I was about nine. But "fatherland" seemed weird, and I didn't get the bold face --- it seemed unlikely that a statement being read would have typographical emphasis. And then there's "fatherland." The usual word in Spanish would be something like "patria".

So, seeing as I know the CEO of PJM, I wrote Roger a note; he passed it on to the Santa Monica editor, who changed the story, striking the bold face and replacing it with normal face (and doing so with a strikeout and correction; would that the Times would be as honest.) But I still wondered about the translation; I went looking for the original.

On the way, it became clear that this was the AP translation. Here's what Reuters had:
"Today, close to the end of my days, I want to make clear that I hold no rancor toward anybody, that I love my country above all else," Pinochet said in the letter.
"Love my country." Maybe I'm oversensitive, but that seems to have a fairly different connotation than "fatherland." (Does anyone know of a context where "fatherland" is used in English other than as a translation of the German "Vaterland"? Am I wrong to think "fatherland" has a pretty strong connotation of fascism and Nationalsozialismus?)

So I went looking for the Spanish version (which took probably 10 minutes more than it should, because I'd somehow left Google set up to only show me results in English. But I finally figured it out.)

Here we go:

"Hoy, cerca del final de mis días, quiero manifestar que no guardo rencor a nadie y amo a mi patria por encima de todo y asumo la responsabilidad política de todo lo obrado", dijo Pinochet en la nota.
I would have translated that as "Today, near the end of my days, I want to demonstrate that I hold no rancor for anyone, and love my mother country more than anything. I assume the political responsibility for all that was done." But the key word here, the one that caught me, is "patria." Google translates it as "mother country." This makes some sense --- the root is the same as "patriot", Latin; "father." But in Spanish it's feminine, and Spanish dictionaries define it as "tierra natal", "land of birth." So while "fatherland" is certainly a legitimate translation, all in all the argument for "mother country", "homeland", or just "my country" seems better. Would one normally refer to a girl as one's father?

Now let's be real clear: I'm not accusing PJM or the PJM editor of anything. They simply ran the translation from AP. But it's interesting how the AP's translation got a connotation that I sure don't think was there in the original.

I guess it's just one more place to remind us that we have to keep an eye on anything we see in print.

The Anchoress » Did you miss these stories over Thanksgiving? I did!

The Anchoress » Did you miss these stories over Thanksgiving? I did!: "Once upon a time, the people who identified themselves as liberals would get upset to see someone attacked for their religion. Now, the people who call themselves liberal (or who staunchly identify themselves as conservatives, although with a clear leftist bent) seem to be embracing a very different mindset."

Barone on Gates

Michael Barone has an interesting piece concerning Bob Gates, nominee for Secretary of Defence.

He gives a summary of Gates's career and concludes with the following:

On Libya, Gates sided with Casey in favor of taking action against the Qadhafi regime.

"Some CIA analysts thought that the Reagan administration was making a serious mistake in taking on [Qadhafi] publicly–that they were creating an Arab hero-martyr inasmuch as [Qadhafi] was seen standing up to the incredibly powerful United States. They had a valid point, but it was also true that Libya was an incubus for terrorism and for efforts to destabilize a number of African and Middle Eastern governments. To have ignored all this would have been a mistake, a greater one in my view that responding to his activities."

Only briefly in this 1996 book does Gates refer to the Islamist terrorists who are our chief enemy now. Here is the one reference I found, in his review of CIA conduct over the years:

"Similarly, on occasion, our operations–for example, in Afghanistan–had lingering and dangerous aftereffects. The paramilitary training and weapons we provided, after the conflicts ended, sometimes were put to unwelcome purposes and even used in actions hostile to U.S. interests. We always were conscious of this likelihood and, indeed, had warned policymakers about this possibility during the debate over whether to use Stingers in Afghanistan."

The picture I get of Robert Gates from his book is that of a careful analyst, one who sees American foreign policy as generally and rightly characterized by continuity but one who sees the need for bold changes in response to rapid changes in the world–and doesn't look for answers from the government bureaucracies. He is very much aware that we have dangerous enemies in the world, and he was willing over many years to confront them and try to check their advance.

Maybe we should give this guy a chance.

news @ - Saturn's spokes may be made by lightning - Thunderstorms on the giant planet may cause puzzling streaks in its rings.

news @ - Saturn's spokes may be made by lightning - Thunderstorms on the giant planet may cause puzzling streaks in its rings.: "The mysterious spokes in Saturn's rings may be created by massive thunderstorms in the planet's atmosphere.

If the theory is right, these faint features are the signature of awesome events: lightning strokes ten thousand times more energetic than those on Earth, releasing beams of electrons that surge up from Saturn's surface to whack into the rings and blast out jets of electrically charged dust.

The Belmont Club: Rage against the dying of the light

The Belmont Club: Rage against the dying of the light: "I feel compelled to carry Alexander Litvinenko's dying words in full, as dictated from his bedside and reported by the BBC. Although incurably poisoned with radiation, Litinenko went out defiant. You may detect, though I might possibly be only imagining it, a ghost of a final smile on his lips."

I agree:

I would like to thank many people. My doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are doing all they can for me, the British police who are pursuing my case with vigour and professionalism and are watching over me and my family.

I would like to thank the British government for taking me under their care. I am honoured to be a British citizen.

I would like to thank the British public for their messages of support and for the interest they have shown in my plight.

I thank my wife Marina, who has stood by me. My love for her and our son knows no bounds.

But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death.

I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like.

I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.

You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.

You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value.

You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilised men and women.

You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.

May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.

Alexander Litvinenko
21 November 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

French ambassador leaves Rwanda after ties cut

...Bruguiere is probing the April 6, 1994, shooting down over Kigali of a plane carrying Rwanda's then-president Juvenal Habyarimana, along with Burundi's former leader Cyprien Ntaryamira, both ethnic Hutus, and a French crew.

Habyarimana's death set off the 100-day genocide in which Hutu extremists slaughtered some 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

On Monday, Bruguiere said Kagame, a Tutsi and then a rebel leader who has denied any involvement in the attack on the plane, should be tried by the UN war crimes tribunal for Rwanda for ordering the downing of the plane.

As a head of state, Kagame enjoys immunity in France, but on Wednesday, the judge issued the warrants for the nine, accusing them of murder and conspiracy.

Kagame was livid, calling the claims "rubbish," accusing France of "bullying" behavior and repeating allegations that France was complicit in the genocide by backing the radical Hutus blamed for most of the killings...

Is French Justice Corrupt? Just askin'. Personally, I suspect that the French judicial system is closely tied to the government and does what it is told, especially when foreign policy is involved. Now if the Rwandans would tar and feather the French diplomats and run 'em out on a rail, I would be content. Breaking relations and giving them till Tuesday to get out of Dodge is perhaps the next best thing.

Rest here.


Effects of Nuclear Weapons Tests: Scientific Facts: "Incompetent medics failed to diagnose acute radiation poisoning from internal exposure to the heavy metal nuclide polonium-210, the most deadly radioactive material on earth due to its short half-life of about 140 days (plutonium-239 has a 24,400 years half life so each atom of that emits only one alpha particle per 35,100 years, which is a comparatively low dose rate - the average life for exponential decay is always 1.44 times the half-life)."

Okay, let's try to kill off a couple of idiotic thoughts I'm already seeing around.

First: not spotting Polonium poisoning is not incompetent medical treatment. Just how many polonium poisoning incidents do they think happen in a year? (Hint: not damn many.) In fact, how many radiation sickness incidents show up in hospitals in a year? Compared to other illnesses that present in pretty much the same way --- leukemia, pernicious anemia, various much less exotic toxins.

And no, most hospitals don't check people for radiation on admittance.

Real or Robot??

Real Or Not - video powered by Metacafe

Joel Achenbach - Please Fence Me In -

Joel Achenbach - Please Fence Me In - "First we must decide how, exactly, to build the big fence between the United States and Mexico. An attempt by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) to locate the fence in his home state has proved unsuccessful. Engineers have shot down the proposal by some liberal groups -- a white picket fence with flower boxes and, every quarter-mile, a swinging gate -- as insufficiently intimidating. The National Bamboo Association has gotten nowhere with its proposal to build a 'Grass Curtain.'

Conservatives, meanwhile, hope the fence will set a standard for what they call The New Repellence. They want hidden cameras, gargoyles, searchlights, machine guns, death rays, booby traps and, in what some say is overkill, a missile-defense system to blast from the sky any nuclear weapons launched by smugglers."

Quote of the Day

TKS on National Review Online: "There's a reason Americans are generally skeptical of international institutions and their laws, rules, and regulations. They generally stink."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Fresh Eyes

According to Fred Barnes Rumsfled was said to have told the President that he felt his job needed fresh eyes. In his article Son Knows Best Barnes attempts to lay to rest speculation that Bush has gone wobbly.

RARELY HAS THE PRESS gotten a story so wrong. Robert Gates, President Bush's choice to replace Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, is not the point man for a boarding party of former national security officials from the elder President Bush's administration taking over defense and foreign policy in his son's administration. The media buzz about the realists of Bush 41, so cautious and practical, supplanting the idealists of Bush 43, whose grandiose, neoconservative thinking got us stuck in Iraq, is wrong.

President Bush--the current one--decided to hire Gates two days before the November 7 election. He didn't consult his father. He didn't talk to James Baker, his father's secretary of state and now co-head of the Iraq Study Group, whose official advice on Iraq is expected in December. Nor did he tell Rumsfeld that he was lining up someone to take his job.

Before hiring him, Bush had to make sure Gates didn't think America's intervention in Iraq was a mistake and wasn't deeply skeptical of Bush's decision to make democracy promotion a fundamental theme of American foreign policy. With Gates, it came down to this: "The fundamental question was, was he Brent Scowcroft or not?" a Bush aide says.

If we are to believe Fred Barnes Gates is a staunch supporter of democracy. In fact according to the article Scowcroft was just what Bush did not want.

It does seem to me that the press went overboard with this development. But then, what is new? In the end Rumsfeld will have been the oldest and youngest Secretary of Defence {having served under Ford} as well as the longest serving. Maybe he is right, maybe fresh eyes are needed. One thing is for sure we can count on the Washington press corps to go nuts, after all it can not just be that it was time to move on now can it?

"Please tell your congressman than I'm not ready to go home."

JACK ARMY: "What frustrates me most of all is the number of Americans that are rooting for us to lose. From media, to politicians and political pundits, to folks who just have no clue but put on airs of knowing all, there is a definite segment of the American population who genuinely wants us to lose this war. The whole 'it's a mistake' and 'based on lies' memes are just ridiculous and aren't based in reality, rather, they are based on misguided dreams of what life should be like. I hate to burst any bubbles here, but war is a part of life, and when bad people do bad things, war just might be the best way to stop them. War just might be the best way to free millions of people from oppressive dictatorship or repressive religious zealots. Especially when those folks have either declared war on us, or have aided and abetted those who are attacking us. I'll not list all the terrorist attacks of the last quarter century, that list is posted plenty of places, but I will say that it is obvious that we've been drawn into a war with an enemy that is too happy to kill innocents, to flaunt the accepted laws of warfare, disregard the conventions and treaties protecting non-combatants and will just as soon kill a child as a Soldier."

War Crimes in Gaza?

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Gaza shields an 'illegal tactic': "Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been criticised for risking civilians by asking them to gather at suspected militants homes targeted by Israel.

Human Rights Watch said that using civilians as human shields or knowingly putting them in danger, were breaches of international humanitarian law.

The Israeli army often orders people out of homes ahead of attacks, saying it aims to avoid civilian casualties.

Israeli forces have reportedly destroyed 251 homes in Gaza since July.

'There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack,' said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

'Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm's way is unlawful,' she said."

Paris: 1 dead as cop defends Hapoel fan


Remember that little incident involving two yutes in Paris last fall? I wonder if this could set off something similar.

A plain clothes police officer shot into a crowd of skirmishing soccer fans Thursday as he tried to protect supporters of Hapoel Tel Aviv, killing one person and injuring another, police said.

The 11 p.m. (2200 GMT) incident at a McDonald's fast food restaurant near the Parc des Princes stadium occurred after Hapoel Tel Aviv's 4-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in a UEFA Cup match.

The police officer, who was not identified, was trying to protect a Hapoel Tel Aviv fan set upon by some 150 PSG supporters, police said.

The rest of the story. 'Course, I don't know exactly who these fans were, so maybe this was just some of the ordinary French soccer scum expressing their appreciation of the visiting team.

Update: Melanie Phillips has more. It seems to have been a crowd of racist right wing French soccer scum. ISTR reports of similar soccer scum in Spain and Germany. Hmmm, the international sport, bringing nations together.

I confess I like the French words for shots, "coups de feu." Clint Eastwood should be so elegant.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pajamas Media: The Four Freedoms:

Pajamas Media: The Four Freedoms:: "“Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change — in a perpetual peaceful revolution — a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions—without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

“This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.”"

That was FDR, by the way, icon of liberal Democrats.

"As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly"

The Politics of Dancing: "As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly": "Cincinnati, OH--An advertising stunt dreamed up by a local Cincinnati radio station went terribly wrong when twenty live turkeys plummeted to their deaths after being dropped out of a helicopter under the misguided assumption that they would all just fly away.

'The turkeys were hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement,' stated Les Nessman, who reported the event live for station WKRP from the parking lot of the Pinedale Shopping Mall.

'It was just terrible. People started to panic and were running around the parking lot screaming. One of the turkeys even went right through the windshield of a parked car.'"

Update (chuck): video

OpenMarket » Stern’s Critical Flaws

OpenMarket » Stern’s Critical Flaws: "To sum up the economic criticisms of the report: to obtain his estimate of the damage of global warming, Stern used a worst-case scenario for temperature rises, exaggerated the effects with his “high-climate” model, applied a discount rate which is questionable and a view of the value of inter-generational equity which is absurd in its implications. In none of these cases did he apply sensitivity tests by, for example, using an IPCC scenario that shows less warming, developing a model in which the effects of global warming are easily adapted to by a richer society, using a market discount rate or taking into consideration the idea that our descendants will be quite capable of looking after themselves. Each of these tests separately would have produced lower cost estimates. Together, it is plausible to think they might have delivered a cost figure for global warming that is negligible. A civil servant who is looking to provide unbiased advice to his Minister would have, out of the sense of pure duty alone, provided those sensitivity tests without fear or favor. That Sir Nicholas did not is, in my view as a former civil servant in Her Majesty’s Government, nothing short of unethical."

Thanksgiving Song

The Corner on National Review Online

The Corner on National Review Online: "I hope Bush the father appreciates that millions out there admire his maverick son far more than they do many of his former advisors, and that if Bush II perseveres, history will be kind to his efforts, often solitary, to promote constitutional government at a time when most self-proclaimed liberals had long ago abandoned that effort.

And there really will come a time, believe it or not, when a future American President baffled and paralyzed by the latest insanity from the Middle East—whether an Iranian nuke or a Syrian invasion of Lebanon or another Middle East war or the usual assassination and killing of Americans—will ask former president George Bush II for advice, as a then fawning media will look back to his past 'toughness' and 'determination' when under fire. That seems unhinged now, but it too will come to pass, as they say."

Happy Thanksgiving

Gale and I will be having the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of ham and mashed potatoes and devilled eggs and chocolate cake and buttered corn. What's that? Turkey you say? Gale does not like turkey, or cranberry sauce or dressing or pumpkin pie. Love is blind they say and I am living proof of it.

Have a nice day everyone.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kurdish Regional Government

The KRG has a very nice website that establishes its autonomy pretty clearly. (That ain't an Iraqi flag waving on the front page.) Reading through the site a bit reminded me that the Kurds have had autonomy since the establishment of the no-fly zone in 1991. The Kurds held their first regional elections in 1992 and have successfully transferred power between competing factions several times, the most recent being the transfer from the PUK led government to the current KDP led government in May of this year. While Barzani seems to be the name of choice for Kurdish leaders over the last century although there have been men from other families who have led.

The fact that the Kurds have been policing themselves for fourteen year has certainly proven efficacious in minimizing the number of terrorist incidents in the north. The prompt application of the 7.62 solution to unknown Arabs seems to work wonders.

The KRG Parliament is studying a draft oil revenue act, beating Baghdad to the punch quite handily. It will be interesting to watch the Kurds press implementation of the act while Baghdad dithers. Should the KRG Parliament pass the act and begin signing exploration deals without central government permission it may prove to be the point at which autonomy becomes independence.

Prime Minister Barzani has been very clear about welcoming Americans to establish permant bases in Kurdistan. Should Maliki continue as a totally inept sockpuppet for Sadr we might consider inking a side deal with Barzani - and issue a welcome to the family of fully independent nations at the same time.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Curiously, Gemayel was killed just as the U.N. agreed on the composition of an international tribunal to try the case. It is no secret that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been pulling out all the stops to quash the trial. Six pro-Syrian politicians in the Lebanese cabinet recently resigned en masse in an attempt to cripple the government, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been threatening huge demonstrations to bring down the anti-Syrian Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who is also backed by the U.S. and France. Killing Gemayel removes another obstacle to Syrian dominance in Lebanon.

Which brings us back to Mr. Baker and the rest of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment now urging a new entente with Damascus. It's true that every Administration must deal with the world as it is. But when it comes to Syria, do the sages of the Iraq Study Group really want the Bush Administration to seek the benediction of a country that stirs such mayhem in Beirut?"

Climate Audit - by Steve McIntyre » The 2006 Hurricane Season

Climate Audit - by Steve McIntyre » The 2006 Hurricane Season: "Storm and hurricane days are each off 30%; cat 3+ days by 50% and cat 4+ days by 54%. Hurricane days were at their lowest levels since 1989 and storm days at their lowest levels since Dvorak measurements were introduced in the Pacific in 1987. To my knowledge, this is the first quantitative report of these 2006 hurricane results. Emanuel had something in print using 2005 hurricane data in December 2005 (Reply to Landsea). What’s the over/under on when Emanuel and/or Webster/Curry will report on 2006 results in peer reviewed literature?"

Future Wars

Apparently, vandals are doing this kind of thing all over the Paris Metro. But, who's doing it?

“Pathetic Republicans”

“Pathetic Republicans”: "Democratic policy initiatives, because they are “progressive” and “pro-active,” can be easily marketed by highlighting their perceived positives while carefully camouflaging the many problems that would not recommend them (the “living wage” is a good example, and works precisely because most people don’t understand the economic forces of the marketplace; the same holds true for attacks on “outsourcing” or, say, Wal-Mart: naturally, Americans are concerned about losing jobs to overseas manufacturers, or to corporate behomeths that would devour all of its competitors, particularly when they are being sold by progressive and liberal Democrats and the press gloom and doom, and are being constantly bombarded with the emotional appeals inherent in widely repeated anecdotal stories of hundreds or thousands of layoffs in a particular industry, etc. Of course, what they are never told is that globalization and “outsourcing” has resulted in a net gain in domestic jobs, and that the global free market is what keeps the price of upconverting DVD players at $50).

Conversely, Republican policy initiatives—inasmuch as they seem more and more to rely upon appeals to social conservatism—come across as precisely the kind of nannystatist intrusions and moralizing that Democrats and liberals (perversely) rely upon acti"

- Prometheus: Al Gore at His Best, and Worst Archives

- Prometheus: Al Gore at His Best, and Worst Archives: "I am neither surprised nor too concerned that a politician would stretch the facts to advance his political agenda. What concerns me is that many scientists have been complicit in advancing such mischaracterizations and remain selectively mute when they are made. In this manner, a large portion of the mainstream climate science community has taken on the unfortunate characteristics of politicians like Mr. Gore, deciding to uphold scientific standards only when politically convenient. This is one way how science becomes pathologically politicized."

Border Collies

I've been telling people Tancredo is nuts ...

WorldNetDaily: 'Bush doesn't think America should be an actual place': "'People have to understand what we're talking about here. The president of the United States is an internationalist,' said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. 'He is going to do what he can to create a place where the idea of America is just that – it's an idea. It's not an actual place defined by borders. I mean this is where this guy is really going.'

Tancredo lashed out at the White House's lack of action in securing U.S. borders, and said efforts to merge the U.S. with both Mexico and Canada is not a fantasy.

'I know this is dramatic – or maybe somebody would say overly dramatic – but I'm telling you, that everything I see leads me to believe that this whole idea of the North American Union, it's not something that just is written about by right-wing fringe kooks. "

Iraqi's Ameriphobia

World Public Opinion has done another general poll of Iraqi sentiment regarding American presence in Iraq.
At the same time, the number of Shias who approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces has jumped 24 points. In January, about a third of Shias (36%) polled in Baghdad expressed approval of such assaults. By September, the proportion of Shias in Baghdad saying they approved of striking American-led forces had risen to 60 percent. In the rest of the country, Shia support for attacking foreign troops rose 20 points, from 43 percent to 63 percent.
Those darned moderate muslims are getting harder and harder to find.

The poll (and the polling company) are tranzi propaganda but the six out of ten figure is completely believable and validates a point that I consider to be very important for the security of American forces. The "hearts and minds" bit isn't going too well and attempts to minimize collateral damage that increase risk to our troops in any way aren't worthwhile.

The Shia have the bit in their teeth and are rushing forward with typical muslim dreams of slaughter and plunder. A good move to kick the bit down their throat would be to accept the Kurds offer of basing rights and move the bulk of our forces north (after killing Sadr - maybe Sistani too). It appears as if the Sunni will be successful in turning Ramdadi into a Shia free zone with 'legitimate' Sunni security forces providing a basis (and a secure base) for organized operations during the civil war.

It's interesting to see the problem of the 'tyranny of the majority' working out in real time at such a fast clip. It's not unexpected - Sistani's assent to a quick spin on the democracy ride was wholly based upon his ability to add well enough to ascertain that his thugs would be in ascendance and his insistence that the constitution enshrine sharia as the final arbiter of all legal manners was a very strong hint of his desire for a typical muslim theothugocracy - but the speed of the descent is remarkable. They've even managed to skip the Reichstag fire.

Pajamas Media: Dr Burnham, Call Your Office:

Pajamas Media: Dr Burnham, Call Your Office:: "“The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq’s sectarian bloodbath. The U.N. tally was more than three times higher than the total The Associated Press had tabulated for the month.” (AP/CNN)

If the figure of 3,709 killed in a month is extrapolated to the 44 months since the conflict started, 163,196 dead throughout the war would be the absolute worst case scenario since the October toll his the highest one according to the UN. In his controversial study published last october in the Lancet, Johns Hopkins professor Gilbert Burnham argued that there were “some 655,000 excess deaths” due to the Iraq war.


The American Thinker

The American Thinker: "The realists want the U.S. out of Iraq. So do the Iranians. The realists want stability in the region. So do the Iranians. The realists, in light of their record, don’t really care by what means they accomplish this. Neither do the Iranians."

God bless them both

This moving photograph shows Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt, superintendent of the 22nd Wing Medical Group at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, holding an injured Iraqi girl. The picture was taken in October 2006, while Sgt. Gebhardt was deployed to Balad Air Base in Iraq. According to the Air Force Print News, the infant girl Sgt. Gebhardt held in his arms "received extensive gunshot injuries to her head when insurgents attacked her family killing both of her parents and many of her siblings."

From Snopes

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Back Talk: Let's Draft Babies So We Never Have to Fight Another War

Back Talk: Let's Draft Babies So We Never Have to Fight Another War: "It would have sounded like war mongering to confront Hitler in 1938. Had we done that, and had 10 million civilians and 2 million soldiers died before we achieved victory, historians might have labeled the effort a disasterous miscalculation. But that's only because the human imagination would have never been able to conceive of what actually happened thanks to our reluctance to engage a growing threat: 24 million soldiers killed along with 32 million civilians.

So, although it's fair to say that it is all too easy to call for war when your own children don't have to do the fighting, it's equally fair to say that it is all too easy to stick your head in the sand and pretend that a threat doesn't exist when it does. The latter error is the one that Charlie Rangel wants to make in the future, but he should try not to lose sight of the fact that 56 million people died the last time we made that error."

OpenMarket » Film reviewer @ goes foaming at the mouth over global warming

OpenMarket » Film reviewer @ goes foaming at the mouth over global warming: "It never ceases to amaze me how some people go apoplectic when it comes to global warming. I emailed out a press release this morning on today’s DVD release of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis offered some point-by-point refutations of some of Gore’s claims in the documentary. Legitimate, science-based critiques. Nothing hateful or ad hominem about it. Yet the site manager of, a movie review site, went all rabid about it, hurling invective and hateful comments at me. You’d think I poisoned his dog or something. Since when do legitimate policy disputes merit that sort of response?"

Of course, the answer is that this isn't a "legitimate policy dispute" in the eyes of the people who want to silence "global waming deniers."

By the way, here's one of the responses, and not the harshest one:

Sorry, I get rude about receiving flat out bullshit and nonsense in my email. Fuck you and all the people like you who are in any way, shape or form involved in disinformation campaigns that will ruin the lives of generations to come. Non-partisan my ass.

Get cancer.

You think you had a bad day?

I love Bolton

Pierre Gemayal, Christian leader, was assasinated in Lebanon. Bush calls it terrorism and Bolton is brutally honest:

The United States has accused Syria and Iran of plotting to topple Saniora's government, which is dominated by politicians opposed to Syrian influence in Lebanon.

Referring to an investigation into the assassination in 2005 of Hariri, who also tried to limit Syrian influence in the country, Bolton told reporters: "I think people can draw their own conclusions" about the Gemayel killing.

Asked whether the U.N. Security Council should continue a tribunal investigating the Hariri killing because of the "instability" it has created, Bolton lashed out.

"How incredibly wrong that would be. How incredibly wrong that would be. Instability? They're killing people in Lebanon. They're assassinating political leaders. Not the time to seek justice? There may be those on the Security Council who say it. Let them step forward and say it," Bolton said.

I sure hope he gets to keep this job.

A small slice of Europe

There has been much discussion recently about whether Europe is dying or not or will become part of the Islamic umma or not. I don't claim to have a good idea of which side is right or wrong or overstaing their case. My own experience in my travels to Europe is mixed but I tend toward believing they are on their way out but more slowly than the doomsayers claim.

Today I found an article by Fjordman, via Brussel's Journal, titled Sweden: Still Crazy After All These Years. Just for context, Sweden is slightly larger than California, has a population just slightly larger than New Jersey (approx. 9 million). Roughly 90% of the population lives in the southern half with Stockholm more or less defining the northern boundary of the more-densely populated half. Get more than a few dozen miles north of Stockholm and people become sparse. This is not surprising because although the climate is mild relative to location, sourthernmost Sweden is roughly at the same lattitude as Goose Bay in Newfoundland and it extends well beyond the Artic Circle in the North - call it lattitude roughly the same as Baffin Bay in Nunavut. We're talking pretty northern here so most people coagulating in the southern half is understandable.

Anyway, according to Fjordman and the folks writing at the links he provides, here are some things I find somewhat surprising and disturbing.

  • The number of rape charges in Sweden has quadrupled in a generation, with men from Muslim countries clearly overrepresented in the statistics.
  • Disruptive political violence is at an all-time high. Political scientist Peter Esaiasson has done research into every election movement in Sweden since 1866. According to him, the organized attempts at disrupting meetings during the 2006 elections had no parallels in modern history.
  • During the past five years Sweden witnessed the largest mass-emigration in the country’s history since the peak of the immigration to the USA a century ago. The people leaving are primarily highly educated, native middle class Swedes. Common reasons cited for leaving are rampant crime and poor political leadership. (This represents between 32,000 and 38,000 pluss people per year; a lot by Swedish standards.)
  • Arson attacks on Swedish schools cost more than 300 million kroner each year. An unofficial survey among 52 Swedish municipalities indicated that at least 114 school arsons were registered so far in 2006, but accurate numbers were hard to come by because the problem has been hushed down by the authorities. At least 139 schools suffered arson attacks during 2002.

These are the sorts of numbers that the Swedes might consider thinking about rather than spending so much time being the "the world's mother-in-law".

Confederate Yankee: Unseasonably Cruel

Confederate Yankee: Unseasonably Cruel: "'We caused this! Out of Iraq NOW!'

This is the cry I hear from many, every day, from both the political left which feels we never should have been there, and from moderates and many of those on the right who now feel our continued presence is a mistake. Our costs--1.7 lives a day--are too much for our mercilessly civilized post-modern sensibilities.

And yet we know the ugly secret, don't we?

We know that for every tragic loss of an American soldier, sailor, airman or marine in Iraq, Iraqi soldiers, policemen, and civilians pay a far higher price. We know that comparatively, our costs are few.

In a nation under severe internal strife, brave men in Iraq still show up at recruiting stations to become policemen and soldiers. They have nowhere to return to, nowhere to run, and have a simple choice; become a victor, or become a victim. In Ramadi, the capital of the al-Anbar province and long a stronghold of Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists, the Sahawa, or the Awakening, has come. Sunni tribesmen formerly allied with the insurgency are swelling police ranks, capturing and killing foreign terrorists and native-born anti-Iraqi forces alike. In Ramadi, it appears the Iraqis have shed enough blood to appreciate and crave both stability and freedom. It is slow going, but progress is being made day by day."

And you think you've got problems....

Japundit » Beware of washlet syndrome: "“Washlet” is the name of the device in high-tech Japanese toilets that provide a gentle shower of water to help you clean up after using the toilet. Wai Wai warns, however, that washlets may be creating problems for folks who have become too addicted to them."

I want to clarify something

In the last few posts done here about Iraq there is a been a discussion about Iraqiphobia,otherwise known as the rats deserting what they perceive as a sinking ship.

Or are they? Do they just want a change in Baghdad?

The vast majority of the Iraqi people do support their government, but will they support the head of state if he does not provide them with the security he promised? Or will they lose faith in him and replace him with another leader who is more interested in keeping his word than he is in sustaining his coalition? I think that perhaps what we are doing here is conflating Maliki with Arab democracy. In our own history our first attempt at self rule was a failure, because of the weakness of our central authority. However, since it was the influential men of the individual colonies who brought about the Revolution, the colonies were initially seen as distinct and seperate. When Thomas Jefferson opined about his country, he was talking about Virginia.

My Congressman is now Brad Ellsworth. I did not vote for him, but enough other people did and so he won. The system did not fail. The other guy just got more votes. And that is what has to happen in Iraq before we can know that representative government there will fail or succeed.

The point I am making here is that until and unless the Iraqi people are allowed to develop political parties that are based on something other than the ancient and traditional tribal and religious power structures we will see these kinds of weaknesses. And only failure of the old will bring about the new.

This is why I think we must stay. The only way to assure a peaceful transfer of power and the only way to make sure that a new election does and can take place is for the Coalition to stay there while the Iraqis learn from their mistakes.

I do not think Bush has gone wobbly in Iraq. I think the dire predictions about the Iraq Study Group are premature. I do think that certain political realities have to be ackowledged however, and that it might be necessary to make some changes in tactics to stem the violence in Baghdad. If we are to succeed we have to produce a policy that both parties can agree on. I don't have a lot of faith in the Democrats, especially the old guard leaders like Pelosi, but this fight is not just about Bush. It will go on long after he returns to Texas and if we hope to succeed in the long term we need to create a policy that both parties can agree to, at least in broad terms. I think that is the purpose of the Iraq Study Group. It might be nonsense, it might backfire, it might be a waste of time. But I think we are jumping the gun here, assuming that it is surrender or that it is a sign that Bush has gone wobbly.

Maybe he has, but it seems to me that Bush's nature is not the wobbly sort.

And it seems to me that Arab democracy, if it can be achieved at all will not be a quick fix, but a generational endeavor and time is not on our side.