Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Canadian Honesty

I'd like to thank Truepeers for eliciting greater interest on my part to our neighbor to the north. In fact, if it's not illegal for foreigners to contribute, I'd like to send a little money to Stephen Harper's next campaign.

Any politician who had the cojones to describe Kyoto as a "socialist scheme" deserves support - unless he falters.

"Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations."

True in '02, true today - and it will be true tomorrow.

Perhaps Harper might be engaged to give lessons to gutless Republican senators?

Profiles in Pomposity

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's Here!

Six or seven years after inception, Microsoft's next-generation operating system Vista, aka Longhorn, finally arrived today. It offers the most secure operating system Microsoft has ever produced, copies all the recent innovations in the Macintosh's OS-X, and adds some new innovations such as the 3-dimensional windows shown.

Here's the story of one Mac user who switched to Vista, perhaps because Vista runs faster on a Mac than does OS-X?

The eye candy is fun, but the vast majority of work which has gone into Vista is to make it secure. That security is worth the price of admission. Beware, though, that it's a memory hog and you should probably have 2 gigs of memory on any system running Vista.

Lost in the noise, but probably more important in the long run, is the new Office 2007. I've personally been using it for six months and can confidently assert that, using .NET technology, it is far safer and stabler than any previous version of Office. Although many of the features in Vista were first found in OS-X, Office 2007 includes features which are truly revolutionary. And these new tools are useful. Office 2007 is a significant step forward as a productivity tool, as internal studies have found that any feature anywhere in the system can now be located in 10 seconds or less by unsophisticated users. Gone are the days when there were all sorts of things you could do in practice but didn't know about.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Nagin - "Where's My Money?"

New Orlean's sniveling failure of a mayor just can't stop whining. Maybe he should talk to Blanco. She probably has the dough stashed on a sunken bus. Or look in "Cold Cash" Jefferson's new walk in freezer, it might be there. Or check the bank accounts of the Landrieu family. They've been stealing from the government for decades and there is no reason to think they've slowed down at all with this honeypot available.

One thing is for sure. The people of New Orleans and Lousiana have precisely the government that they deserve.

And I'm plumb out of sympathy for people too dumb to get rid of crooks.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Which SF Writer are you?

I am:
Arthur C. Clarke
Well known for nonfiction science writing and for early promotion of the effort toward space travel, his fiction was often grand and visionary.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Sort of a surprise, but a pleasant one.

What if....

There had been no war in Iraq? Many assume that Bush would have won his second term and his approval ratings would be in the 60's, but how can we know? I assume that if I had not married my exhusband I would have met a rich man who would have fallen helplessly in love with me and right now I would be vacationing in our summer villa. But then I snap out of it and realize that I could just as easily have married a serial killer.

In other words alternative reality is tricky.

Back in 1998 when Clinton was playing tough with Saddam, Zawahiri made the following statement:

"We say it loud and clear that we will retaliate for what is happening to the sons of our nation in Iraq. For the crimes committed by the US against our Islamic nation will not pass without punishment." The statement was signed by the Vanguards of Conquest's secretary general, Abduallah Mansour [an alias for Al Queda's #2 man and strategic planner, Dr Ayaman al Zawahiri]. It was published in the al-Hayat on December 19, 1998.

I keep hearing how Saddam was secular and thus was no friend to terrorists and yet it has always been the case that terrorists were far more upset about attacks on Saddam and his regime than they were even about the fall of the Taliban.

But what if we had waited for the day that Saddam and Osama publicly joined forces before we responded? Would that day have ever come? I would say it was about as likely as a pubic confession from Al Capone that he was indeed the man who ordered the Saint Valentines Day Massacre.

So, as we see the marches and listen to the debate we assume that this was all just a choice that we made that could have been unmade.

But what if we had just turned Saddam loose and he had rebuilt his programs? What if the sanctions regime collapsed and we were forced to stop patrolling the no fly zones and Saddam went back to killing his own people? I think that perhaps we have forgotten that the man who could have stopped this war or one like it was not George Bush, it was Saddam Hussein himself.

So my feelings are that sooner or later this fight was going to take place because the Gulf War itself never really ended. What is more the man who very nearly won the 2000 national election Al Gore felt the same way:

In 2000 Gore was saying something very different than we hear Democrats saying today.

There can be no peace for the Middle East so long as Saddam is in a position to brutalise his people and threaten his neighbours

Meeting a delegation from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), he also reiterated the administration's view that the Iraqi leader should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As late as February, 2002 Al Gore was saying Saddam had to go:

Al Gore said last night that the time had come for a "final reckoning" with Iraq, describing the country as a "virulent threat in a class by itself" and suggesting that the United States should consider ways to oust Saddam Hussein.

I realize that there are good people who will always oppose war, I respect that. But sometimes in the course of this war I have gotten the feeling that reality has shifted. Somehow there has been a deliberate attempt to recreate the past and forget who and what Saddam was and exactly what lead up to the war. There seems to be the idea that the choice was as simple as war and peace. In truth peace was not an option with Saddam and the Democrats knew that too once upon a time.

Hell No! I won't go

I won't fight for Exxon oil. If you are interested Curt at Floppingaces has lots of pics of loons and aging movie stars on parade.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ahhh......Sweet Consistency

It appears that the forthcoming report from the Working Group (WG1) of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) will be released first as a Summary for Policy Makers, and then the whole report will be released. Release of the summary is due on February 2, 2007 (Groundhog Day, appropriately enough) and release of the full report (with all of those nasty statistical and methodological details) is set for May. Why the delay, you ask? Let's let Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit weigh in:

So the purpose of the three-month delay between the publication of the Summary for Policy-Makers and the release of the actual WG1 is to enable them to make any “necessary” adjustments to the technical report to match the policy summary. Unbelievable. Can you imagine what securities commissions would say if business promoters issued a big promotion and then the promoters made the “necessary” adjustments to the qualifying reports and financial statements so that they matched the promotion. And for IPCC to have the gall to institutionalize the process. Words fail me.

So, none of those who are outside of the process will know what those changes are. Also, it is clear that there will be a media splash about this. Word out is that there is a "smoking gun" concerning human caused global warming. Can a bullet be put back into the gun after it's been fired? Be sure to check out ex-democrat's post and comment section below, Great News: We're All Doomed!

It is kind of interesting that the organization's name includes Climate Change. Change is inherent to any study of the climate. Why not the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Study or something equivalent? It's as if the conclusions were reached before the group was even named. Will Punxsutawney Phil appear carrying a hockey stick?

Is Hugh Right?

Hugh Hewitt has a post up on the Senate's attempts to pass a resolution against the troop surge in Iraq. Of course Secretary of Defense Gates says it will embolden the enemy, but what do they care? They have important things, like the next election to concern themselves with:

What part of "encouragement to the enemy" don't the Republican senators understand? They can stop the Biden resolution, or at least do the public the service ofilluminating which republicans are willing to join Democrats in providing that encouragement. There is no valid reason --none-- to agree to cloture.

Senator McConnell's D.C. office is closed for the weekend, but you can reach his Louisville office at 502-582-6304. The other contact info is below for Senators McConnell and McCain and the others in the Republican leadership.

Please spend some time this weekend reminding the Republican senators that they are not their to serve themselves.

UPDATE: Read this exchange between an LATimes' editorial board member and Governor Bill Richardson, candidate for president: They are discussing "worst case sceanriaos" for Iraq.

LAT: So Plan B is, Maliki doesn't do what you want, he says "I don't really care what you do"; the Mideast peace conference, everyone says, you know, "America's sort of a weak giant, on the run, and we actually don't like each other, we don't want to sit around and talk about it"; we just leave and the place descends into utter, horrible chaos?

Richardson: No, no, no. You link it to reconciliation talks, but Plan B has to be a diplomatic process that involves other nations sharing the load. I mean, if Saudi Arabia is saying "this is the worst thing in the world for the U.S. to leave," you know, what are you going to do about it? You gotta finance troops.

But I think eventually the best situation is a linkage. But if the linkage is not there, you know, the phased withdrawl, it has to happen. Because right now, it can't be any worse. There's a civil war going on. The Iraqi people want us to leave. So, you cut your losses.

LAT: The can't-be-any-worse argument was also very popular in 1975 in Vietnam, and Cambodians found out that it could actually get quite a good deal worse. Is that something that worries you? What do you build into that process?

Richardson: Yeah. It worries me, but how worse can it get?

LAT: Two million people killed in a genocide?

Richardson: Well, but you're assuming that our presence there has prevented that from happening. Our presence there has caused, I think, the civil war to accelerate. [...] Is our presence preventing this genocide? I'm not sure.

I can remember the same arguments about Viet Nam. In fact I can remember John Kerry saying we were the problem, remove us from Viet Nam and the fighting in South East Asia would stop. Oh, a couple of thousand people might die, but overall the situation would improve. We all know that was a lie.

If the Democrats really believe this nonsense then they need to side with the 15% of the population that wants and immediate and complete withdrawl from Iraq.

Hugh is angry with McCAin for trying to put together some kind of compromise resolution. I have my doubts as well, but it should be remembered that McCAin has always supported sending more troops to Iraq and he still does. He is not a quitter.


Lorie Byrd ask a question that deserves an answer:

It is certainly not a pleasant thing to accuse fellow Americans, particularly ones entrusted by the citizenry with the nation’s well being, of playing politics with American lives or of providing moral support to her enemies, but I think it is time to ask some hard questions.

Why have so many critics of the war spent more time talking about alleged abuses at Gitmo than they have talking about the new freedoms being enjoyed by those in Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of actions taken by the U.S. military?

Why is it that many war critics seem to believe the U.S. is capable of addressing the conflict and genocide in Darfur, but that they are not capable of achieving victory in Iraq?”

Why is it that when generals, or more frequently former generals, express a lack of confidence in the President, the Secretary of Defense, or our policy and mission in Iraq, their word is not only accepted without question, but their opinions are treated as absolute fact, but when other generals say that it is still possible to win in Iraq, and that condemnations of the President and his policies encourage the enemy, they are ignored?

Why, when given a choice between defeat through surrender or the possibility to pursue victory, there are so many so eager to choose the former?

This is interesting

Gateway Pundit has a post up on the mystery Iranian official detained by American forces in Iraq. From the AP:

The U.S. ambassador said Wednesday that one of the Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq during two raids over the past month was the director of operations for Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds faction, the organization responsible for funding and arming Iraqi militants.

Zalmay Khalilzad said the recent raids were part of a "new strategy" to "go after their networks that are active here."

The United States is building up its troops in the region, beyond the additional 21,500 on their way to Iraq for a new security crackdown, in what U.S. officials say is a message to Iran. Khalilzad sought to reinforce Washington's message that Tehran should keep its hands off Iraq, where it has enormous influence with the majority Shiite population.

...Khalilzad said Iranian agents were working with "a variety of groups, and there are groups that they fund and control, in my judgment, directly."

And Dafydd has an interesting post up as well on the increasing pressure the mullahs are feeling:

3. It's always better, in my opinion, to leave your enemies in a state of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) than to let them know what is actually going to happen... even if what is going to happen is an attack. Uncertainty whether you will be attacked is actually more stressful than certain knowledge you will be attacked.

Bush's mebbie-we-will, mebbie-we-won't has got to be nerve-wracking to the mullahs, most of whom are emminently practical about their delusions: they prefer to systematically go about seizing all power in the Middle East (as a stepping stone to, you know, ruling the world; and no, I'm not joking).

Ahmadinejad, by contrast, literally believes that Allah will send the Twelfth Imam and the heavenly host to fight on the side of Iran against America... thus, the greater the foe, the greater the glory! He really does want a war with the United States; I suspect he is "enraptured" by the idea -- and I choose my words with clarity and precision.

The "conservatives" seem unamused by his monkey-like caperings (Ahmadinejad's nickname in Iran is, in fact, "the Monkey"): Either he's mad as a March hatter, in which case Iran would be destroyed to no purpose; or else the supernatural hand of Allah really will reach down from Paradise, in which case we're on the wrong end of the point-spread anyway, and Ahmadinejad's brazen tauntings won't be necessary.

Either way, it's a very, very good play to keep the Iranians off-balance about what we're going to do. Let them stew and suffer.

So bravo to Bush; his cageyness on the quesion of attacking Iran will have far more of an impact on our most dangerous enemies than will the buffoonery of Congress. Which is good, because as foolish as the antics of the Cowards Corps are, that's how brilliant the president's game is.

I have heard a lot of conservatives here say the United States needs to be more confrontational with Iran. I think it just possible that more is going on in regards to Iran than we know.

Friday, January 26, 2007

From a friend

A letter from my Covenant Zone co-blogger, Charles Henry:

…Truth be told, there is one thing you could give me, that I would consider of great personal value: if you could post the video I made in appreciation of WWII veterans, at Flares Into Darkness. Many blogs may have contributed to my resolve to emerge out of my lurking shadows into the sunlight of commenting and blogging in my own right, but it was what I felt as an exemplary attempt to establish a common sense political moral and intellectual center at Flares Into Darkness that became the deciding factor in inspiring me to take the first real, concrete step that has led me to where I am now, and all the blogging blessings that have come my way ever since.

I would consider it such an honor to see that video of mine there, because of the high esteem I've long had for the bloggers at that site, and the creative pride I feel over that video. That WWII video makes me taste the good that can be done, when sincere commitment to worthwhile causes are pursued despite any number of obstacles… as well as the natural connection that I believe exists between people, waiting to be invoked.

Continued, with two great videos...

I will post your wonderful video at Flares, Charles. But I am having some trouble writing this introduction to it. Maybe it's because you have me thinking of the mystery of patriotism, the secular faith that the cynical would unveil as even more of a fraud than plain old religion; and now that I’m no longer cynical, the source of patriotism can be even more of a mystery than religion…. What do you do with a mystery? When I was growing up and in university, all the “smart” people made fun of or demonized patriotism; it was either uncool or dangerous (oppressive to outsiders and to the nation’s foot soldiers) except, that is, when it took on an anti-American (as unfortunately is common in Canada) or utopian (“we are the world”) form.

Another way of putting this, and here we get closer to the thing, is that even those who denigrated the sacred in patriotic forms could not do without another way of representing their sacred bond (i.e. their shared sense of coolness) to unite them against the demonized other and its sacred things. My contemporaries may have thought themselves smart secularizers, but what was and is cool for most of them is, I have come to learn, just another form of the sacred.

They scorn the trade in normative or national sacred signs, a scorn that, intentionally or not, acts to disenfranchise ordinary people culturally and politically. Ordinary people can only rule themselves when they share in a sacred tradition with its many common understandings of right and wrong, and share a political constitution that allows them to evolve this tradition. Otherwise, without the independent authority of tradition, they are ruled by experts in "progress". Those experts who scorn the normal must have their own cool sacred to bond the hip and learned; and if they are going to rule the rest of us we have to acquiesce and appear as if we believe they are cool, that the experts’ knowledge is indeed rather magical, liberating and transformative when in the right hands, beyond the grasp of normal mortals.

I believe we are the generation that is discovering that there is no escaping a human condition bound, to some extent, by mysterious or irrational sacrality, i.e. something that must be taken on faith; and perhaps the more we make a fetish of being secular and anti-patriotic, the more we fall back into the more irrational or blindly demonizing forms of magic and religion.

Growing up, I never had a sure sense of patriotism; people laughed at it, indulged in it from afar (as when watching a historical movie) or, it seemed, took it too seriously. I never had a strong conception of patriotism as something that could be experienced as “just right”. But watching your video, Charles, it struck me in a flash that here was a representation that provided an experience of patriotism that was just right (your representation meshed with my imagination of my experience of reality and truth).

As I say, those who denigrate patriotism must indulge in some alternative forms of the sacred. And perhaps the problem I am having in introducing this video to my friends here at Flares is that I was just watching tv (actually it was several days ago now) flipping past BBC World News, and I caught a promo for a program, with the journalist’s voice emoting “how are we going to end the bloodshed? Is it time to talk with al Qaeda?” It was a jolt, pushing me beyond a previous reticence fully to commit to a struggle in a way I cannot yet quite express, for I am still stunned by the revelatory flash (admittedly not the first) of how deep into appeasement and unreality much of Western culture has sunk, as if the idea of treating with murderous and apocalyptic religious fanatics is needed by a certain crowd as acknowledgment of their own fundamental sacred belief in the guilt of our own “bloody” ways, as if the powerful norms of Western culture are so inherently oppressive to our marginalized others that these norms are responsible for creating the madly mass-murdering and suicidal Jihadis.

And since we are guilty – after all, the occidentocentric BBC assumption remains that “we” have the power, “we” can end the bloodshed if we really want – we must sit down with our angry other, whatever he has done, whatever sacred vision he unbendingly defends, even, apparently, if he wants to bomb the world back to some medieval Caliphate-led empire that presumably couldn’t possibly feed anywhere near the six billion of us presently dependent on Western-led modernity and its market and political freedoms.

At first, I sputter at the insanity of people who think “we” can talk with al Qaeda, other than to submit, as if the terms of the sacred that motivates them are negotiable. But, learning something from Charles, I will try to turn this depressing witness to creative end. After all, knowledge of just how fallen are so many of our cultural and political institutions can be liberating. As time goes on, more of us will stop wasting energy trying to rebut the fantasy world view of our gnostic elites with their special keys for “ending the bloodshed”. Already, it is no longer surprising or illuminating that the BBC would embrace and encourage those who perform, for the tv audience, what I believe are rightly labeled human sacrifices. I believe networks like the BBC encourage murders and suicides by Jihadis and other would-be revolutionaries – sacrifices of their own “martyrs” and of us - that are needed for the White Guilt ideology to make transcendent “sense” to billions around the globe. We all know the “if it bleeds it leads” mantra; in other words, no suicidal and homicidally-enraged victims of the big bad West, no tv coverage; and so the “Green Helmets” of the world are learning to perform appropriately, even as this sacred game is getting old.

It is old because, after all, human blood sacrifice was discovered long before us, likely at the birth of hierarchical agrarian society by all those who learned that periodic rituals where kings, temple virgins, the losing team in a ball game, etc., were killed and sent to the realm of the Gods, somehow made “sense” – if it was done “just right” - if the resentment of those individuals who were somehow guilty for monopolizing (in the new social hierarchies) too much of the sacred center could thus be discharged by the tragic “rightness” of their shed blood (our agrarian forebears had not yet discovered the sophisticated postmodern rituals proving the indubitable rightness of our guilt by the suicidal madness of our other) and society effectively saved from its internal tensions - for a time - by some sort of ritually shared catharsis.

While the contemporary West, in a fit of both political profundity and banal Babbittry, has moved beyond such sacred blood rituals by according sacrality to every individual as a free spirit, whatever his or her religion, it is just this individualism, that must be in good part expressed through the “vulgar” mechanisms of consumer society, that enrages those whose version of the sacred suggests we have no right to maintain these devilishly tempting, distracting, but often unheroic, visions of sacrality, instead of some universal submission to a unique truth of God or men. Increasingly, our Western White and Green Guilt mongers find reasons to concur.

But those of us who see through this old apocalyptic game will find ways to build a new political scene through alliances among serious people around the world - the kind who know, for example, that the sacred which motivates al Qaeda will either win the day or be defeated, but will not be mediated on Oprah (oh, if only it could be…). Those of us committed to sacred reality will circumvent the old elites leaving them to their sinecures and rituals in legacy institutions, allowing their voices to remain available to those who can’t live without ‘em, because not ready to join those renewing the constitutional profundities of nationhood.

A new reality

Every Thursday, a small group of bloggers meets in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library (7-9 pm) to drink coffee and speak in public about all that is sacred or could be sacred to a nation moving beyond the incoherency of an elite-led "multicultural" liberalism, a nation in search of a new covenant to define how we might rule ourselves again. Anyone living here can join us. And a couple of Thursdays ago, we were joined by a young man from Europe full of the imperial EU faith – at least, he thought it a great thing that a kid from, say, Belgium, was no longer trapped in that little country but could aspire to work in Ireland, Italy, etc. And as there is emerging a European free market, there needed to be some kind of European polity to regulate this market since, in any ultimate struggle, politics always rules economics (as is no doubt true).

And yet, this young man decried the corruption of the politicians of Europe in an age when accountability to national electorates is diminished in deference to EU bureaucratic rule; and he worried about the racial and religious divisions and segregation that immigration and the impossible attempt at imposing some value-neutral liberalism, via elite arbitration in backrooms, has brought to much of Europe.

Still not squaring the circle, he had given up on the idea of nations and constitutional self-rule, along with any form of religion it seemed, as well as the institution of marriage which he saw as a way that “society” chained people to norms that made them unhappy. He assured us that he was fully committed to spending a loving life with his girlfriend, but this required no ritualized commitment to some larger community or family, no highly memorable sign he would carry with him each day of his life as he struggled to renew their love and family in word and deed.

Yet more distressing to Charles was that this young man had all the standard, unreal, anti-Israel opinions on the Palestine question, all the while denying that European political culture is in any significant sense antisemitic (while no one would doubt their indulgence in that most kindred malady of the mind, anti-Americanism). To Charles, all this represented a frightening blindness, caused not simply by worldly economic and consumer distractions, but also by a politically consequential forgetting of European history, culture and inter-generational solidarity, and also the solidarity forged between North Americans and western Europe in the two world wars. And it was a forgetting of the history by which Israel had come into being and has had continually to fight for its very existence from day one, in face of an Arab-Islamic world for most of which Israel, in any shape or form, is an abomination, a slap in the face of their most sacred understandings and claims that cannot but look feeble in face of the economic, technological, and military success of a tiny western nation surrounded by her enemies’ many failures. To our young man, the mere fact that life in Israel is modern, Western, normal, while much of the surrounding Arab world is an indubitably depressing “shit hole” is proof positive of some great injustice, of which the recent imposition of “the wall” is the unmistakable confirmation. That Islam might be to blame for this injustice to Muslims is at once true and insufficient explanation to his mind. There must be a greater demon than that.

Well, feeling rather close to this young man, Charles was upset and he went home to spend a sleepless night, tormented by the fact that the right Western reality, as he understands it, is something quite different from what is being taught in schools and the MSM. Knowing he wouldn’t sleep, Charles put his energies to work, and spent a night creating one of his videos or slide shows that appear regularly at Covenant Zone.

Charles has been doing a lot of videos on the situation in France, a nation to which he feels some attachment having spent many years learning French and falling in love with books from and about France. He worries about the future of that nation he knows largely in terms of its transcendent stories. Charles is often upset when he reads North American bloggers berating the feckless French, forgetting that while the leadership of France is an elite post-national class that no longer has any serious ideas about its responsibilities to France and the Western order of nation-states, there is nonetheless a class of serious patriots and anti-Jihadist bloggers whom we should be providing comradeship, instead of ignoring the question of how to back our barely visible friends by simply sloughing off “the French”. In the current struggle, to defend one’s nation is necessarily to defend all nations against those imperialistic and anti-Western forces who question the whole idea of the constitutional and covenantal nation-state.

Well, right below is the video Charles wanted me to link. And quite aside from the fact that Charles gets the spirit of patriotism and internationalism “just right”, why did I want to do something for Charles in the first place, occasioning his reply in the email from which I quoted at the start of this post?

Recently, with the election of Stephane Dion as leader of the Liberal party of Canada, and with Charles’ great parodies of the likes of Jacques Chirac and Segolene Royal (see all of Charles’ videos at youtube under the authorship of "FraicheDufour") fresh on the mind, I asked Charles to make us a video featuring Dion. And what a result! It is to my mind the funniest Charles-FraicheDufour video yet, though admittedly the humour may not be entirely evident to those unfamiliar with the arrogant pretension of the Liberals to be Canada’s “natural governing party”, or with the personal vanities of that tribe’s leaders. Anyway, I had commissioned and received a FraicheDufour video without naming my price. And in the end, all I had to do was tell you all about it here. Quite the deal.


"Shadows Come Back" - Stephane Dion

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Great News: We're All Doomed!

Reuters is reporting the imminent unveiling of a new U.N. report on climate change (suspiciously timed to coincide with Al Gore’s bid for an Oscar?) "that will provide the most credible evidence yet of a human link to global warming and hopefully shock the world into taking more action, the panel's chairman said on Thursday."

Apparently “The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due for release on Feb. 2 in Paris, draws on research by 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries and has taken six years to compile.”

What caught my attention, however, was the following quote from the panel’s chairman, R.K. Pachauri, (who, by the way, is “director of India's top environment centre, the Energy and Research Institute.”):

"I think the sceptics on climate change will continue, but the good news is that their numbers and their effectiveness is on the decline."

I don't mean to be overly picky, but wouldn’t “good news” be that the skeptics were right after all?

What Syl Said

I think this exchange in the comment section of loner's post deserves more attention:

From Syl:
Loner, conflating anything regarding Libby with your view of the war is a mistake. Cynicism is fine in small doses, but these are individual people we are dealing with, and justice shouldn't care who you or your friends and associates are. And if you are accused of one thing, you shouldn't be found guilty of that one thing just because people associate you with something else.

Wilson misled the country and the press wanted to believe. The administration had to set the record straight but it was difficult because they had to figure out what the heck was going on, who was this wilson, what was his trip all about, why didn't they know about it. And the info they needed to get out was all classified.

There was infighting between the administration, the OVP, State, and CIA which made matters worse. And the administration fumbled around.

And the press framed the pushback as an effort to discredit a whistleblower which carries heavy connotations. Sheesh, even the government has a right to set the record straight. In fact, the government has a DUTY to the American people to do so!

There are two main faulty assumptions that the press and Dems have that they base their thinking on. There are more, but these two remain the focus at this point in time:

(1)Wilson was a truth teller. And even though he was debunked, they either dismiss the debunking or consider Wilson to be fake but accurate. They want to believe that Bush and Cheney lied to get us into Iraq. And that colors their entire view of the case.

And even those who accept that Wilson was less than truthful, believe the next with hands grasped to their chests and eyes to heaven.

(2)The Administration and especially Cheney punished Wilson by outing his wife. Thus they react with joy at every indication that Cheney/Libby were discussing Wilson or his trip. They immediately assume they were discussing his wife. They assume that Wilson's wife was the heart and soul of the pushback.

The NIE? a side issue to them. Wilson's actual report which bolstered the admin's case? Irrelevant. The State Dept's view of the trip--that it was basically a meaningless endeavor? ::fingers in ears::

That all the above constituted the information Cheney/Libby were trying to get disseminated? a red herring!

Look. Look. It was the wife. It was PLAME they wanted to get out.

Even after learning that Armitage was the leaker to Novak? doesn't matter. That was a separate thing.

Though I read yesterday someone waiting for the evidence that Rove made Novak get the info out of Armitage. ::nudge"" ::nudge:: ::wink:: ::wink::

Even though Novak said (and, I think, testified under oath) that the info was handed to him--he didn't ferret it out--the belief is so strong that nothing will dissuade them.

Now, the trial isn't even about Libby leaking because he did not. But that is not what people, including many on the jury, believe.

loner said...

I agree with everything you wrote except the conflating part. None of this happens absent the failure to find stockpiles of WMDs. None of it.

But they did find weapons, they just did not find the large weapon stockpiles. They also found chemical and biological programs and the agents needed to start those programs up again. Hans Blix even said that there had to a presumption that the weapons existed and the Resolution that gave Bush the authority to go into Iraq mentions programs as well as stockpiles and it does not rest only on this issue.

But we all know that. These arguments have been made time and again. I have posted the actual text of the Resolution. We all remember Bill Clinton's speeches when he said that Saddam would use those weapons, he was a dangerous dictator who ruled over a vicious terrorist supporting rogue state.

None of this is news. The question is if not for the war, would they know any more about those weapons today than they did then? And it seems to me that before the press can attack the Bush administration for their claims of Saddam having stockpiles of weapons they need to explain why it was that the media did not question those claims in all the years of the Clinton administration? If there had been half the attention and energy put into questioning and grilling and assuming the worst of anything the Clinton administration said then perhaps some enterprising reporter would have raised the question of "dogs and fleas" and Saddam's stockpiles back in 1998 or 1999.

But they did not. So did the press lie?

The NYT and the Law

I have often heard conservatives complain that the Bush administration has not gone after the New York Times for publishing sensitive material about classified programs such as the NSA surveillance program. Maybe this is way, via Powerline :

SO WHAT WAS the Times thinking when it published the Risen/Lichtblau story? Bill Keller purports to have satisfied himself that the publication of the story did "not expose any technical intelligence-gathering methods or capabilities that are not already on the public record." In his radio address on the publication of the story, however, President Bush flatly asserted that publication of the story "damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk." It is doubtful that even Keller believes that he is in a better position than the president to judge the consequences of the publication of the story. This is another point on which the Frontline interviewer appears not to have pressed Keller.

In his autobiography Radical Son, former Ramparts editor David Horowitz recounts an incident involving the magazine's 1972 receipt of a draft article by a pseudonymous National Security Agency employee. Horowitz characterizes his involvement in the publication of the article in Ramparts as "the most shameful or humiliating thing I ever did."

In the Ramparts article, the NSA employee revealed that the agency had cracked the Soviet intelligence code and could read Soviet electronic communications at will. Deliberating over whether publication of the article might subject the magazine editors to prosecution under the espionage laws, Horowitz consulted prominent Harvard law professor Charles Nesson. (Nesson denies recollection of the conversation recounted by Horowitz.) Nesson was then working as a member of Daniel Ellsberg's defense team in connection with the government's prosecution of Ellsberg for removing copies of the Pentagon Papers and turning them over to the Times -- the incident underlying the Pentagon Papers case itself.

Horowitz relates that Nesson advised him that publication of the article would violate the law. In addition to providing certain technical guidance, according to Horowitz, Nesson advised:

To make its case in a court of law, the government would have to establish that we had indeed damaged national security. To do so, it would be necessary to reveal more than the government might want the other side to know. In fact, the legal process would force more information to light than the government would want anybody to know. On balance, there was a good chance that we would not be prosecuted. I had just been given advice by a famous constitutional law professor on how to commit treason and get away with it.

Viewing Keller's smug self-assurance in the Frontline interview, I don't doubt that he has relied on similar advice regarding the publication of the NSA terrorist surveillance story.

The bastards.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

For What It's Worth

My mates in England think the Al Qaeda problem can and should be tackled the same way the IRA problem was (apparently) tackled: by negotiation. I have no idea why they think that will work (not to mention what they think can be negotiated). Perhaps they're just trying to avoid the miserable alternative of "blood, toil, tears, and sweat."
One other thing, part of the 'edge' between the Brits and Yanks regarding the War on Terror comes from their still-simmering anger at Americans for sending funds to the IRA. That's what changed with 9/11, they say, and what finally enabled them to end their War on Terror.

Dafydd is Optimistic, sort of

From Dafydd:

In the first (easy) test today, some of the Republican cowards found just enough courage to reject the worse, Democratic version of the defeatism resolution today, Joe Biden's (D-DE, 100%) "surrender swift":

The Democratic-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee dismissed President Bush's plans to increase troops strength in Iraq on Wednesday as "not in the national interest," an unusual wartime repudiation of the commander in chief.

The vote on the nonbinding measure was 12-9 and largely along party lines.

"We better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder," said Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, the sole Republican to join 11 Democrats in support of the measure.

Just for the record I think that voting on a nonbinding resolution of this kind at this time is a craven, oppurtunistic, disloyal, useless, underhanded, arrogant, pompous waste of time from a bunch of bloviating, grandstanding suck ups who would lock their own mothers in a deep dark cellar to die a slow death if it would win them an election. They might as well put on a tight skirt, a Dolly Pardon wig, knee high boots and some cheap perfume and go stand on a street corner calling Hey Sailor wanta have a good time to passersby while they ply their true trade. Same damn difference.

If we are going to govern by polls we might as well cut out the middle men and send these people home. Speaking of polls Jules Crittenden referenced a poll saying the following:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — More than three-quarters of Americans who watched President Bush’s State of the Union address had a positive reaction to it …

Forty-one percent of 370 adults who watched the speech said they had a “very positive” reaction to it. Another 37 percent said their response was “somewhat positive.” …

Of those responding, 32 percent identified themselves as Republican, 31 percent as Democrats and 36 percent as independent.

Sixty-seven percent of speech watchers said they believe Bush’s policies will move the country in the right direction …

Meanwhile, 53 percent said they believe the speech will lead to more cooperation between Bush and the Democrats who control Congress. Forty-three percent said it will lead to more disagreements.

Among the speech viewers, 51 percent said they were very or somewhat confident that the United States will achieve its goals in Iraq. After Bush’s 2004 speech, the number was 71 percent.

See what a difference it makes when the people you poll actually represent a cross section, even a small one, of the population? But then that is the idea, get Bush's numbers down and destroy his ability to govern. It is a good thing Lincoln did not have to worry about the CBS poll back in 1864.

If you are interested in letting them know how you feel take the pledge and sign a petition. H/T Hugh Hewitt.

They mean what they say and they say what they mean.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes the site of the 2001 terror attacks, had the strongest language for Bush and the New York mayor.

"The villains are no longer the terrorists. The villains live in the White House and in Gracie Mansion," said Nadler, referring to the official home of the mayor of New York.

AP story here.

Dogs and Fathers, Fleas and Orphans

I'd like to take a moment of your time to praise the sensational analysis and commentary on the trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby which is being provided over at linked site Just One Minute and to especially praise the contributions of a couple of the contributors/commentators here. They know who they are. I hope you're doing okay, Syl. You're missed.

My recollection is that I happened upon Mr. Maguire's site while checking links provided in this post and the associated comments, but, if so, I'm not sure how. I did stumble upon it somewhere around 18 months ago and from time to time since I've gone back to find out what's happened lately.

I stand by my 7/12/05 comment:

I think I've only commented on this subject that once a few weeks ago when the Supreme Court declined their invitation to become involved. I think it's because I've always thought the proverb that best applies is:

If you lie down with dogs, you'll rise with fleas.

Plenty of dogs, if not a crime, here. Not much that could happen to many of the principals—surely Wilson, Plame, Rove, Novak, and Miller—wouldn't be their own stupid fault.

I do have a couple of additional thoughts after reviewing opening statements.

I did not include Libby in that list of principals back on 7/12/05 because I didn't know much about him. Had I, I would have included him.

I hope he's acquitted though I don't think Fitzgerald seriously overstepped in indicting him.

The proverb/aphorism that best applies, upon a better understanding of what the regular government employees were thinking and doing, might be: Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.

No points for guessing what the failure was. Some here still don't think it was a failure.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It was a good

I watched the State of the Union and I thought Bush did well tonight. He was strong on Iraq, gracious toward Pelosi, seeking common ground on domestic issues and seemed relaxed.

He is right about Iraq. I know there are people out there who do not agree, but sometimes politics really should end at the water's edge.

Maybe we should stop screening our calls

Because Republicans must not be answering their phones. How else do we explain these kinds of polls? On Jan 5 Bush's poll numbers at Rasmussen were 45, today they were 39. Not great, but not Nixon territory either. These people have no shame, none whatsoever.

via Flopping Aces


The economy is firing on sixteen cylinders.

Iraq sucks.

Thank you and good night.

Monday, January 22, 2007

He Said from his Hidey Hole

Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, defiantly mocked US President George W. Bush's plan to send extra troops to Iraq, saying he should send his entire army to be annihilated.

"In his latest speech, Bush said in his ramblings that he would send 20,000 of his soldiers to Iraq. I ask him: why send only 20,000 soldiers? Why don't you send 50,000 or 100,000?" Zawahiri said in the 15-minute video recording.

"Don't you know that the dogs of Iraq are impatient to devour the carcasses of your soldiers?" Osama bin Laden's deputy said.

"On the contrary, you must send your entire army to be annihilated at the hands of the mujahedin so that the whole world will be rid of your wickedness."

Bush announced on January 10 that he would send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, in a bid to quell deadly sectarian violence in the war-wracked country.

The US president has waged an aggressive public relations campaign over the past week to warn against pulling out of Iraq hastily, and Iraq is expected to be the focus of his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

But Zawahiri, in the video released online, repeatedly poked fun at Bush's plan for Iraq and the US-led mission to rid Afghanistan of remnants of the extremist Taliban movement.

"Iraq, the country of the caliphate and of jihad, is capable of being a tomb for 10 of your armies," he said.

"It is Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, led by the emir of the believers, Mullah Mohammed Omar (may God save him), who have deprived the Americans of a safe haven in Afghanistan.

"Security must be shared: if we are safe, you will be too ... If we are hit and killed, you will inescapably be hit and killed," the Al-Qaeda official said.

"Today, the duty of every Muslim is to bear arms or to support and serve those who bear the arms."

Ya know I would say if they have not been able to anihilate the US Marines yet, that somehow I doubt if they can deliver on this threat.

Rules of Engagement

Herschel Smith at The Captain's Journal has a very vested interest in the ROE. His son graduated from the Marine's 'School of Infantry' in June last year. His comments and interest in the ROE must be read in that light.

Mr. Smith has spent a great deal of time, thought and effort in putting together a series of articles that outline problems that must be resolved in order to maintain the full support of those most closely connected to our efforts in Iraq - and elsewhere. There is no question that morale remains high among our active duty forces. Retention and accession rates are the single most important indicator of that fact and the DoD continues to announce that goals are being met every month.

Attention to the voices that clearly state that the current ROE are not conducive to mission accomplishment will have a beneficial effect upon the maintenance of high morale and upon the successful accomplishment of missions with minimal casualties.

Mr. Smith links a Thomas Sowell article from which he pulls the following quote:
Having pushed the “democracy” vision for Iraq, we could not simply disregard the country’s elected government. But democracy arose in Western civilization centuries after law and order had been established. We tried to do it in the reverse order in Iraq. When push comes to shove, people will support tyranny rather than suffer lethal chaos that makes normal everyday life impossible for themselves and their children.

The success or failure of the troop surge in Iraq may depend far more on whether those troops can again be hamstrung by politically restrictive “rules of engagement” than on how many troops there are.
Let's hope that the President effectively addresses the ROE issue in his State of the Union speech tomorrow night. Otherwise we will be seeing more idiocy such as that being conducted against Col. Michael Steele and a much lower willingness among our armed forces to pursue their mission to successful completion.

Are we defeated or just tired of it all?

Curt over at Flopping Aces has an interesting post up on Iraq and Middle Earth.

Saying the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

No, we cannot win, but we will meet them in battle nevertheless. Theoden.

I do agree with Curt that the fight itself means something, but I also wonder if Howard Dean and the rest of the Democratic Party are under the impression that one election giving them a slim majority is the same thing as a coup? It seems they believe they can suddenly circumvent the Constitution, after years of claiming Bush has done just that, and take over the military from the headquarters of the DNC.

I don't think so. I have seen support for the surge at something between 26% and 37%, but this is not something we do by referendum. It is the President's call and like it or not he has the Constitutional right to do that. Unless there is something in fine print I don't know about that says different.

But the truth is people are tired of Iraq all the time. They are tired of raving loons burning flags, pictures of carnage and burning buildings and the daily drip drip drip of casualty. They may be low, but they are constant. Rather like a nagging pain than a sharp one..but a pain nonetheless.

Are the Democrats as well as some Republicans ready to wave that white flag? They seem to think this is a good time to make their move. Yes, it would be disastrous if America ran away. Yes, it could lead to genocide. Yes, it could make our word a joke. Yes, it would be disastrous for the morale of our military. But hell's bells the American people are tired of this crap and we got an election to win. The sluts.

Think how different the world would be if Truman had pressed on despite the public opinion polls and taken out North Korea. Maybe we would not have troops on the DMZ a half century later. Think of how different the world would be if Jimmy Carter had gone after the mullahs and made them pay for taking that embassy. Think how different the world might be if Ronald Reagan had responded with something other than a shrug and a what can you do to the slaughter of our Marines in Lebanon over 20 years ago. Think how different, how very different, things might be if we had pushed onto Baghdad in the Gulf War. And let us imagine how different the world might be if Clinton had said to hell with the polls and the Europeans I am going to get Bin Laden.

I take care of sick people and time and again I have seen people refuse to take care of little problems. Refuse to take their medications or the treatment they the hopes that some miracle will interevene and this bad thing will go away.

It rarely does. If Dean and his ilk have their way, this problem will not go away. Like it or not, these people want to kill us.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


In a comeback from the largest deficit in Championship Play -- 18 points -- the Colts beat the Patriots in a thriller.

Payton and Tony Dungy have now got the monkey off of their respective backs that they can't win the big ones.

Brady had a chance, but was intercepted with 20 seconds to go.

Another great game.

Should be a real good Super Bowl.

Who do they serve?

These are the concluding paragraphs of a letter from a military officer that was posted at Hugh Hewitt :

The era of young convicted felons being offered the choice of jail or the services has been over for 30 years. In 1982, the then Chief of Naval Operations instituted the “Not in MY Navy” Campaign of drug testing that has all but eliminated drug use in the navy. Similar programs now exist not only in all of the armed forces but in the private sector as well. Ask any American parent whose son or daughter has dropped out of high school and who thought the military a viable option. They will tell you it is nearly impossible to gain entry without a high school diploma and many fields require some college. I know such parents and they now know the armed services are not a dumping ground for Americas juvenile delinquents and high school dropouts. Born of military necessity and the respect engendered in the 1980s, the armed forces raised their standards because they had to and because they could. This selectiveness may be discarded if the all-volunteer force decides service is no longer worth the sacrifice.

Republican Senators such as Chuck Hagel, John Warner and Olympia Snowe have publicly stated that the president’s planned strategy adjustment will not work and that they will not support it. I challenge each of these august public servants to go over to Bethesda Naval Hospital TODAY, find a seriously wounded Marine and say to him, “Son your sacrifice was in vain.” GO TODAY Senator. Stand up and be counted. If your vote for the war was wrong, say so today and do what any decent officer would do, resign. Resign immediately. What we are witnessing is a replay of the Vietnam War NOT on the battlefield where we continue to have successes albeit slowly, but in the gelatinous spines of our public servants and political masters. Remember Senator we serve but we are not YOUR servants. We swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution and the survival of America, not your political career which far too many of you associate with defending America. We serve because we believe in America, its founding principles and we believed our leaders, mostly Republicans but some Democrats, would support us and use our capabilities well. Now Republicans risk shredding the trust that fully 66% of servicemen and women have given them since 1968. They risk the future of their party but far more importantly they risk the all-volunteer force and with it America’s security future.

Read the whole thing. I contacted my representatives and a couple of others as well. I realize the resolution these gutless wonders are talking about passing is nonbinding and therefor worthless, but it is a slap in the face not only to Bush, but to our military as well. As if they gave a damn. All we heard for two years was that there were not enough troops, now they move up some troop rotations to put more people in Baghdad and one would think we were doubling our troop force. We still have less people in Iraq than we went in there with.


They played one of their best games.

Went out ahead with three field goals and a touchdown.

Gave up two unanswered touchdowns.

Then ran away with it.

Great performance by the players and great coaching by Lovie Smith.

Grossman played well in the clutch.

Deuce McAllister disappeared, mainly because of the Bears defense.

Great game.

Michael Yon has another post up

That's a good question

From Austin Bay .

Writer Nick Cohen:

At leftish meetings in the late Eighties, I heard that Iraq encapsulated all the loathsome hypocrisy of the supposedly ‘democratic’ West. Here was a blighted land ruled by a terrible regime that followed the example of the European dictatorships of the Thirties. And what did the supposed champions of democracy and human rights in Western governments do? Supported Saddam, that’s what they did; sold him arms and covered up his crimes. Fiery socialist MPs denounced Baathism, while playwrights and poets stained the pages of the liberal press with their tears for his victims. Many quoted the words of a brave Iraqi exile called Kanan Makiya. He became a hero of the left because he broke through the previously impenetrable secrecy that covered totalitarian Iraq and described in awful detail how an entire population was compelled to inform on their family and friends or face the consequences. All decent people who wanted to convict the West of subscribing to murderous double standards could justifi ably use his work as evidence for the prosecution.

The apparently sincere commitment to help Iraqis vanished the moment Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and became America’s enemy. At the time, I didn’t think about where the left was going. I could denounce the hypocrisy of a West which made excuses for Saddam one minute and called him a ‘new Hitler’ the next, but I didn’t dwell on the equal and opposite hypocrisy of a left which called Saddam a ‘new Hitler’ one minute and excused him the next

Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam which stands for everything the liberal left is against come from the liberal left? Why will students hear a leftish postmodern theorist defend the exploitation of women in traditional cultures but not a crusty conservative don? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? As important, why did a European Union that daily announces its commitment to the liberal principles of human rights and international law do nothing as crimes against humanity took place just over its borders? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal left, but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea? Why, even in the case of Palestine, can’t those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a superior literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet? And why after the 7/7 attacks on London did leftish rather than right-wing newspapers run pieces excusing suicide bombers who were inspired by a psychopathic theology from the ultra-right?

In short, why is the world upside down? In the past conservatives made excuses for fascism because they mistakenly saw it as a continuation of their democratic rightwing ideas. Now, overwhelmingly and every where, liberals and leftists are far more likely than conservatives to excuse fascistic governments and movements, with the exception of their native far-right parties. As long as local racists are white, they have no difficulty in opposing them in a manner that would have been recognisable to the traditional left. But give them a foreign far-right movement that is anti-Western and they treat it as at best a distraction and at worst an ally.

Black marks?

Dan Drezner has a post up apologizing for his dreadful erorrs on the Iraq war.

I wanted to comment on it, buty his comments are suffering technical issues (what we call, technically, "hosed.") But then I realized that it was a comment that needed to be made more broadly, so I brought it back here.

Not only do I believe no apology is necessary, I think people are being damn fools about it, based on not having much of a sense of history or time.

Consider the list proposed at Dan's site:
(1) No WMD found.
(2) Not enough troops to do the job.
(3) Not minimally competent.

Now consider:

(1) significant quantities of WMD were found, and it's clear Saddam had preserved the necessary information and material to resume production when sanctions were inevitably revoked. Including 500 tonnes of yellowcake.

This much is just fact. (Watch what happens when this is brought up: the response, when it's not just "lalala can't hear you", is "Oh, those weren't enough WMD", or "they were old", or even "Saddam would never use them.")

More important, without the Iraq war, we can pretty well conclude that there would be an Iraq/Iran nuclear arms race. Iran is bad enough, the pair would have been infinitely annoying.

(2) Enough troops. Enough for what? Iraq fell so precipitously and completely that the story will be told alongside Thermopylae and Zama, and both the direct invasion and the following occupation have been done with historically few casualties. Enough to settle the internecine tensions of 25 million arabs, kurds, and turkmen? No, but other than ensuring that none of the groups get complete control, what do we care frankly?

None the less, it's as well functioning a democracy as there is in the Middle East (ex Israel), and while we fuss about it, no one is noticing the Iraqi economy seems to be doing quite well.

(3) Incompetence. Yeah, sure. They clearly aren't very good at getting good press coverage; callow young academics don't seem to be happy. But in the mean time, the Iraq and Afghan Campaigns have broken the lines of communication for al Qaeda across Central Asia, eliminated a massive source of funding and support for the Palestinians and for other known terrorist groups (yes, yes, I know people say there was no connection, but it would require self-delusion amounting to a positive fugue state to actually ignore abu Nidal or the monetary payments to suicide bombers. Not to mention the loss of Afghanistan as a safe base for al Q.) While generating a "Cinderella economy". And fairly substantial education reform co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy. And re-election after losing the popular vote the first time, something I don't think was ever done before. And two rarely-done gains in Congress for the President's party, followed by a relatively small change in the 6-year off-election.

What Bush is missing is a way to deal with damn fools who have opinions first, and then think. Too often, the opinion first is "it would have been so much better if they'd have listened to me."


I saw this over at Protein Wisdom :

Blah blah right-wing Rumsfeld warmonger chickenhawk evil Bushies Wolwowitz and his neocon cabal for oiloiloiloiloiloil blah blah ignorant stupid bloodthirsty morons, the real axis of evil on a ranch in Crawford and blah blah blah no WMD he lied, Bushitler lied, people died died died tie-dyed peace peace peace down with the Zionists! peace peace Kyoto! they hate us they hate us they hate us and what can we do and root causes and root causes and blowback and Plame and Plame and Chalabi Plame Wilson blah blah blah unilateral multinational Halliburton Enronism crony capitalism and it’s all about oiloiloiloil blah blah blah, cowboyish disregard for allies, for the wishes of the world community who rise up against us, the terrorist threat is overblown and anyway, it’s all our fault because we gave Saddam his weapons to begin with, photo of Rummy and Hussein, but make no mistake, he no longer has those weapons because inspections worked, containment worked, and blah blah blah Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan handle it, Roy, handle it handle it, Caspian pipeline oiloiloiloil blah blah blah show me the stockpiles, anthrax CIA plant Richard Clarke said so and we believe him because and unless unless unless Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib, square-jawed cocksucking military jarhead torturing fucks, bring home our troops! We care about the troops! We support the troops and don’t you question our patriotism our love for this fucking filthy crass consumerist bullying country of redneck dolts and biblethumping bourgeois suburbanites with their SUVs and where are the CAFE standards fight the real terror, eco-terror, Israel, the US, imperialist colonialist racist homophobic hegemonic and blah blah blah blah blah because dissent is patriotism and fighting against your country is really fighting for your country and our dissent keeps the nation strong and we’re brave and heroic and up is down and black is white and oiloiloiloiloiloiloiloil blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.™

For the troll with lots of winger sites to visit and not enough hours in the day.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

There's a new man in town

I added Kings and Cabbages to the links. Go have a look and see what you think.

Enjoy It While It Lasts

During the Summer of 2005 I bought my first $3.50/gallon gasoline, on the San Juan Islands in Washington, only to discover upon returning home that, far from being a local phenomenon within Washington, the price had spiked locally too and I was forced to pay $3.25/gallon here in Boulder. I thought I was a goner. When the untimely death of my minivan forced me to buy a new car last January, I accordingly selected one which gets 35 miles to the gallon, having calculated carefully that the monetary advantage of a Prius getting 45-55 mpg would not justify the extra upfront cost, amortized over 10 years, even at the expected price of $5.00/gallon for gasoline. I gradually and painfully adjusted my thinking to the new reality of $3+/gallon henceforth.

Last week I paid $1.98/gallon, today $1.96. What's going on?

One theory advanced before the recent election was that the oil companies, those all-powerful omniscient price manipulators, were foregoing billions of dollars of profits in order to keep the Republicans in office. The American electorate wisely saw through that and turfed the Republicans out anyway. Now I guess the Evil Oil Barons are cleverly throwing away even more money in order to keep the Democrats in office....(cont.)

Another theory, one which I myself bought into, was that increased demand in India and China had moved prices up sharply as an elementary example of classic supply and demand in operation. I have no doubt that demand for oil and gasoline products has risen dramatically in both countries as they have started to get rich during the last decade. Apparently, according to this theory, both countries have suddenly quit driving during the last year or so, and prices have dropped back to something downright comfortable as a result. Not likely.

What's the real explanation? Who knows? I think the oil market is simply way too complicated to easily model. If it were easy, lots of big trading companies would be making spouts of money without risk. As demand rises in India and China and elsewhere, the price goes up, sure, but with a higher price, it suddenly becomes worthwhile to drill in lots of places that weren't worth it before and supply starts to increase. That tends to drive the price back down, and who knows which way the big oil producers like OPEC are going to jump, given all this uncertainty?

I don't know about Goldman-Sachs, but for me I'm afraid the price of gasoline is about as predictable as the date of the next blizzard in Colorado. I say, let's enjoy it while we can.

If We Fail

That is the title of Victor Davis Hanson's most recent article. It is too good to excerpt, so just go read it.

Anticipatory Warrants

From Flopping Aces

What’s going on? As with everything about this program, we can’t be sure; we don’t know the facts, so we’re stuck with making barely-educated guesses. But it sounds to me like the FISA Court judges have agreed to issue anticipatory warrants. The traditional warrant process requires the government to write up the facts in an application and let the judge decide whether those facts amount to probable cause. If you were looking for a way to speed up that process — and both sides were in a mood to be “innovative” — one fairly straightfoward alternative would be to use anticipatory warrants.

An anticipatory warrant lets the government conduct surveillance when a specific set of triggering facts occurs. The judge agrees ahead of time that if those facts occur, probable cause will exist and the monitoring can occur under the warrant. The idea is that there isn’t enough time to get a warrant right at that second, so the warrant can be “pre-approved” by the Judge and used by the government when the triggering event happens.

And guess what? According to Orin, the Supreme Court, for the first time, has approved anticipatory warrants:

What’s the mystery legal development that helped make this possible? If my guesses are on the right track, it’s probably the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Grubbs, which was handed down on March 21, 2006. The Grubbs case is the first Supreme Court decision approving the use of anticipatory warrants.

So maybe nobody lost and nobody won, there was just a change in the rules. Sometimes I think our system is just a tad too adversary.

I am still a neocon

And so it seems is Neo-neocon

In an interesting post that includes the history of the rise of Saddam and his war with Iran and the part the US played in that history, Neo-neocon concludes with the following statement:

I wish the world were otherwise. But it's not, and pretending the lion has already lain down with the lamb is an absurdity, or worse. There are plenty of lions out here, about to devour huge herds of lambs, and sometimes all we can do is back the lion who seems less voracious.

The funny thing about the whole thing (and I mean funny-strange, not funny ha-ha) is that it is the neocon philosophy that represents one of the only strategies offering a possible way out of the realpolitik dilemma. And yet those who criticize our realpolitik decisions to back dictators also criticize our neonconnish decisions to overthrow them and try to institute a better and more democratic form of government. Odd, isn't it?

Make no mistake about it, however: the neocon notion that we should attempt actions designed to transform these countries into something better is not an easy one to execute, as Iraq has demonstrated (and, by the way, it does not always involve our waging war--sometimes it involves our supporting internal forces within the country itself, as suggested presently for Iran).

I'm disappointed in the missteps of the Bush administration while occupying Iraq (examples: not stopping the looters, not taking Sadr out, way back when). But I don't believe any of these to be insurmountable even now--if we had the political will in this country to understand how important it is to succeed at the task.

This is the stark choice we face: (1) realpolitik business as usual, "he's a thug but at least he's our thug;" (2) inaction, allowing totalitarian Islamism (or Communism before it) to take over most of the world; or (3) trying to transform these regions into functioning democracies that protect human rights.

The latter is the neocon agenda, and I'm all for it. I consider it the best alternative of the lot. But I don't consider myself naive about how difficult it is to do this and how much of an investment in time, energy, money, blood, and will it would cost to succeed. But the alternatives would ultimately demand a greater human sacrifice, and entail even more suffering.

I have never understood why people think the idea of modernizing the Middle East is a waste of time. We have tried everything else. What is left? Isolationism? I am not sure they would even let us build a wall and hide.

The Beast Has Left Her Lair

Miz Clinton has tossed her witches hat into the ring. Starting with a bout of "listening" of course. After all, one must let the proles prattle before issuing orders to the commissars concerning the size of the camps to be erected.

Perhaps, if we're lucky, she'll team up with Speaker StarKist and offer seminars concerning the key to successful investing.

Love the pictures. She looks almost lifelike.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Remember Dubai

Remember when the Bush administration was going to let Dubai Ports take over operations at some American ports and Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer went in front of the cameras and accused George Bush of selling ports to terrorists? Remember how the right went ape and fell for the scam and made complete asses of themselves by behaving as if the President of the United States would actually hand ports over to AlQaida?

Well I think some righties are doing the same kind of crazy stuff in response to the news that the Bush administration has cut a deal with FISA to take over the Terrorist Surveillence Program. Just because lefties like Glenn Greenwald and the media like to do their thing about Bush backing down or whatever is no reason the rest of us have to let the spin doctors run our lives. Sometimes I feel the extremes are just running amuck in this country. One side wants us to lose and the other side refuses to compromise, even for the good of the country. Very tiresome.

Personally I am glad they found a way to make this important program permanent because I am not sure that President Kuccinich would have signed that Executive Order every 45 days. And before the righties get too pissy with the President for doing this they should remember if not for Bush there would not have been such a program in the first place. The idea that he would wake up one morning and decide it is no longer important is assanine.

The best roundup I have seen on this complete with a transcript of the Q&A session with the Justice Department comes from Protein Wisdom. Go check it out if you are interested.


The notorious Glenn Greenwald, who will jump to a misconclusion like a penguin takes to cold water, is finally realizing that all his celebrations regarding the NSA terrorist surveillance program were all for naught:

Maybe Bush didn’t back down on wiretaps

Stop celebrating — it’s not yet clear whether the administration really intends to start obeying the law.

By Glenn Greenwald

But why might the president have agreed to cease violating the law? Last fall, a federal judge ruled that he had violated both the Constitution and criminal law, and an appellate court was about to hold arguments about that decision. And his loyal servants no longer control Congress. Clearly, a desire to avert a now inevitable confrontation with the courts and Congress over the lawless eavesdropping motivated the decision to abide by the law. Other than a rank fear of consequences, there is simply is no coherent explanation for the Bush administration’s sudden abandonment of an illegal program that it had emphatically insisted was central to the “war on terror.”

It’s like a baby when they first actually become concious of their surroundings. Too funny. But there is more reality that is slapping Glenn upside the head which he cannot ignore:

Has a general warrant been issued approving of the program itself? Have so-called anticipatory warrants been issued by the court to allow the administration in advance to eavesdrop whenever specifically defined circumstances arise?

Glenn has always struggled to understand the simplest aspects of the NSA-FISA issue. It is surprising he has started see a glimmer of reality. He is a product of media-fed knowledge. He knows nothing outside what the NY Times tells him. His is an intellect under the total control of others. Sort of sad really.

Curses! Foiled again!

I question their Patriotism

The loons have taken over the asylum:

Polls about what's going to happen in the future don't interest me except in special circumstances. But there is one fascinating result in this poll -- only 63 percent of Americans, and only 51 percent of Democrats want the troop surge to succeed (see question #19). One-third of Dems apparently wish for the failure of an American military mission against al Qaeda, radical Islamist militias, and death squads, and for the slaughter in Baghdad to continue unabated. 15 percent of Dems aren't sure whether that's what they want.

via PowerLine

34% of Democrats want the United States to fail in Iraq and 15% just can't make up their minds whose side they are on. Too bad they did not do this poll before the election.

The Kean Kagan Plan

I lifted the following from the comment section of Big Lizards . Tomy posts directly from the document:

The recently released military doctrinal manual on counter- insurgency operations declares, “The cornerstone of any [counterinsurgency] effort is establishing security for the civilian populace. Without a secure environment, no permanent reforms can be implemented and disorder spreads.” This statement encapsulates the wisdom of generations of counterinsurgent theorists and practitioners. The importance of establishing security is manifold.

First, people who are constantly in fear for their lives and for their loved ones do not participate in political, economic, or social processes in a normal way. The fear of violence and death distorts everything they do, think, and feel, and it often changes how they interact even with neighbors and friends. When violence reaches a level at which most people feel themselves to be in danger, as it has in many areas of Baghdad and Anbar, then political processes largely cease to function.

It is not usually possible to use those collapsing processes to redress or control the violence, moreover. In Iraq, as in many other insurgencies, rebel groups take up arms in part to gain leverage that the political process would not otherwise give them. The Sunni Arab rejectionists in Iraq have preferred violence to democracy from the outset because they know that they will not control a truly democratic Iraq. They have therefore hoped to use violence and its threat to force the Shiite majority to give them a much greater say in governing Iraq than their proportion in the population would attain. As long as they believe that violence is providing them with political leverage, they will continue to prefer violence to dialogue. Encouraging the Shiite government to negotiate with them without first containing the violence only reinforces the Sunni Arab rejectionists’ belief in the efficacy of violence to advance their cause.

Ongoing violence within a state, finally, saps the legitimacy of that state’s government in the eyes of its citizens. As the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency manual explains, the first indicator of a government’s legitimacy is “the ability to provide security for the population (including protection from internal and external threats).” Providing security for its people is the core mission of any state. Continual violence and death eliminate the people’s support for the government, leading to an increase in violence as individuals and groups undertake to protect and avenge themselves independently of state structures, legal institutions, or government sanction. Allowing disorder to persist over the long term is extremely hazardous to the health of any government. And America’s objective in Iraq is creating a secure and sovereign national government elected by the Iraqi people. The U.S. government has not given priority to providing security to the Iraqi population from the outset of the war, however. The inadequacy of coalition forces at the end of major combat operations to maintain order is well-known and well-documented now. It is less well-known that American forces continued to under-emphasize the importance of establishing and maintaining security even after the military command and the administration recognized that insurgency and low-grade civil war were erupting in Iraq. America’s commanders in Iraq, notably Generals John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command since mid-2003, and George Casey, commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) since mid-2004, have instead emphasized the need for Iraqis to solve their own security problems. The leading U.S. commanders have, therefore, prioritized using U.S. troops to establish and train Iraqi Security Forces. Indeed, American military commanders have never pursued the defeat of the enemy even after it became obvious that Iraqi forces lacked the ability to do so. As a result, the United States has ceded the initiative to the enemies of the United States and the Iraqi government and permitted the steady deterioration of the security situation.

This was in response to Dafydd's post on the flip and flop of the Democrats when it comes to increased troops strength. Needless to say they were for it before they were against it. If these people were regular human beings instead of politicians this latest reversal would be seen as a sign of a serious mental health problem. Multiple personality maybe?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Active or Passive?

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Having taken arms against a sea of troubles (without ever having ended them) while suffering those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune at a quite startling rate, I must say that the concept of 'nobility' being involved had to have been 'in the mind' as I never found it in the field.

I was taken by the 'nobility of action' concept when I first read the soliloquy at fifteen, introduced to it by an excellent teacher who happened to have been a veteran of Iwo Jima. He mentioned once that he weighed 129 pounds when he finally left that tiny little island but a fifteen year old (and some fifty year olds) can't process the import of that statement.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.
Would that that had been the lesson grasped at fifteen but who at fifteen knows about the aches under the scars? Some were well worth it, to be sure. In fact, there are some that have proven invaluable - but there are many more that someone with a bit more patience would easily have avoided. Sometimes rough hands and scars are only evidence of impatience and the ability to survive.

There is a saying in Italian: "E se faccio un buco nel'acqua?" ('And if I make a hole in the water?') that is used to describe the fear of other's opinion that prevents many young Italians from attempting opportunities with the potential for great material reward but with uncertain outcome. I believe that 'fear' to reflect the feelings of a large percentage of Europeans and to also reflect the feelings of a growing percentage of Americans. It may be that a search for security among the herd defines the "passive observation" that Chuck addressed in the previous post. The herd mentality is a valuable survival technique when there are predators around. Unless, of course, the predators are men.

We are best served by paying attention to the observations of those who are able to identify the season and ready and willing to rise with their aches to raise the anchor in order to set sail once again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Will they let it work?

In spite of the fact that I think Glenn Reynolds is a tad full of himself sometimes he has a good point here:

WITH MICHAEL YON REPORTING THAT "IRAQ IS VERY WINNABLE," Dean Barnett wonders what if the surge works?

I think it won't be allowed to work, at least in terms of media reporting and public perception, if the press has anything to say about it.

UPDATE: Or maybe some people who were for the surge before they were against it will be saying "I told you so" if it works! I can live with that eventuality, if it eventuates.

Will the press let the surge work? Will Iraq have to be Switzerland before the press cuts the Bushies any slack?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


As dictator of Italy, Mussolini's foremost priority was the subjugation of the minds of the Italian people and using propaganda to do so; whether at home or abroad, and here his training as a journalist was invaluable.
From Wikipedia:Benito Mussolini

One Down

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz resigned over his mismangement of last summer's Lebanon war. Unfortunately, the two nincompoops most responsible, PM Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz, lack the requisite sense of honor to do the same. Israel is lucky that Olmert appears to be as stupid a crook as he is as a PM. I wonder if Hillary gave him some tips? They certainly seem to share a common sense of ethics.

What I've Learned: Jack Bauer - MSN Lifestyle: Men

What I've Learned: Jack Bauer - MSN Lifestyle: Men: "Bureaucrats want results but never want to get their hands dirty."

Farewell to old friends

Time waits for no man and it sure as heck waits for no computer. Time has forced me to retire the family's trusty ol' iMac. I didn't want to see it go but it was beyond upgrade.

On the other hand, some things should end their days ASAP. Trusty it was, and reliable, but it never earned the status of pet, or beloved family member. Nonetheless the ol' Presario has drawn about the last of the amps allocated to it. It ain't worth tracking down a link.

We'll see if the replacements earn the same status and begrudging respect.