Sunday, December 31, 2006

Why do we try?

A cheery New Year's thought:

Nothing was more evident of the moral impoverishment of the Palestinians than their collective lamentation over the fate of this mass killer of the Kurds and Arabs. We gave the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars for housing, schools, and security and they hate us; Saddam gave them a few thousand dollars as bounty for suicide murderers and they loved him.

That says it all.

Live from Iraq: Hitchens on the scene

Christopher Hitchens provides us with a thought-provoking missive from Iraq. Money quote:

If there is a flickering pulse that holds any of this together, it is kept going by two sources. The first is the astonishing actual and potential wealth of the country. The budget negotiations, which were occupying all parties during my visit, were to discuss the allocation of more than $41 billion. This is not a paper figure: New oil fields are being prospected in parts of the country that haven't been explored yet, and there is no reason in principle why Iraq could not be one of the most prosperous countries on earth. For the moment, feuding sects use their control over ministries to enrich their own supporters, but even the most blinkered tribalist can glimpse the idea that a shared country would be more beneficial to each than a shattered one. The second source of life is the presence of the coalition, where yet again even the most hard-line factionalist will admit that as bad as things are, they would be instantly worse (and instantly worse for his own group) in the case of a withdrawal. These facts are stubborn: The idea that we could even consider abandoning such a keystone state, and so many decent people, to the forces of the faith-based is as inhumane as it is unrealistic.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blogging for Impact

Boy, do we.


Friday we passed 30,000 total visits. A modest milestone relative to many, but none the less something I thought worthy of a little celebration. As the momentous occasion approached late in the afternoon, I wondered to myself where would that visit come from. Turns out, my own back yard. Literally.

I was the 30,000th visit to my own blog. Why do I do this again?

Happy New Year

The Myth of the Strongman takes a blow:

With Saddam’s execution the myth of the Strong Man takes another major hit. We should all be thankful. The Arab Strong Man, the Serb Strong Man, the Albanian Strong Man, the Somalia Strong Man, the Soviet Strong Man, the fill-in-the-blank Strong Man — the thugs in charge claim that obedience and submission lead to ideological or ethnic or nationalist or tribal or fill-in-the-blank victory. It’s a scam, of course, a scam to obtain and maintain their own power. Ultimately, the tyrant’s show is narcissicism empowered by ruthlessness and the secret police. Saddam’s comment on his way to the gallows is indicative: “On the way to the gallows, according to Ali, “Saddam said, ‘Iraq without me is nothing.’” (From Newsweek’s article which interviewed the videographer who filmed Saddam’s execution.)

The Strong Man expects to die in one of two ways — with a nine millimeter ballot (ie, assassination) — or old age. That has certainly been the case in the Middle East. A public, legal trial followed by court-sentenced execution? That isn’t going to happen unless…unless a democracy replaces a tyranny. This is astonishing news — history altering news. For centuries the terrible yin-yang of tyrant and terrorist has trapped the Middle East. In 2003 the US-led coalition began the difficult but worthy effort of breaking that tyrant’s and terrorist’s trap, and offering another choice in the politically dysfunctional Arab Muslim Middle East.

Saddam’s demise serves as object lesson and example. In late 2003 every Middle Eastern autocrat saw the haggard Saddam pulled from the hole; now they’ve seen him hung. The larger message: To avoid Saddams fate means political liberalization. The message extends beyond the Arab Muslim Middle East. Iran’s mullahs see it. At some reptilian level, destructive despots like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe also understand it.

Ding-Dong, the Witch is still Dead

Click to see the video of the still shown here.

Read Josh Trevino on the lunacy of the left. For proof, read the 40+ comments.

Generally Speaking

I was a fan while living in Trent Frank’s district in NW Phoenix. But this, from yesterday, is just silly.

Jonathan Martin offers this observation as a potential motivation:

Methinks Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) choice for president in '08 may have something to do with the committee he serves on in Congress. Franks is a member of the House Armed Services Committee — the panel that until the, um, recent unpleasantness Duncan Hunter chaired.

Still silly, no matter the reason.

Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead

Friday, December 29, 2006

Confusing the Agenda

The Army has subpoenaed two journalists in connection with their writings about an officer facing courts martial who publicly denounced the war in Iraq and further, refused deployment with his unit. As Instapundit noted, they aren't happy about it:

The Army's subpoenas, which the journalists said they received last week, put them in the uncomfortable position of being ordered to help the Army build its case against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces up to six years in prison if convicted.

"It's not a reporter's job to participate in the prosecution of her own sources,'' said Sarah Olson, an Oakland freelance journalist and radio producer. "When you force a journalist to participate, you run the risk of turning the journalist into an investigative tool of the state.''

But Olson, who received her subpoena Thursday, acknowledged she has no legal grounds to refuse to testify, since she is being asked only to confirm the accuracy of what she wrote about Watada and not to disclose confidential sources or unpublished material.

Normally, she said, "no one, myself included, has any problem verifying the veracity of their reporting.'' The ethical problem in this case, she said, is that she would be aiding the prosecution of one of the dissidents and war critics who regularly trust her to tell their stories to the public.

What it seems that Olson doesn't recognize, is that she has other responsibilities here. Under the UCMJ, Watada has committed a crime. If Ms. Olson published details of a crime in Oakland, would it be unreasonable to think her cooperation would be sought by civil authorities?

There are more important things in this world than confidentiality. Glenn's summarizes it well:

That's not ethics. That's politics. But many "journalists" seem to confuse the two.


It's not hard if you try:

Two months after the coup that brought in a government that offered a kinder and gentler approach to solving the Islamic terrorism in the south, that terrorism has gotten worse. Before the coup, terrorists killed about 49 people a month. Now it's up to 56 murders a month. There are now over twenty bombings a month down there, and about seven school a month are being destroyed. The terrorists continue to concentrate on suspected pro-government Moslems, non-Moslems and government workers. Most of the mountainous back country villages have been terrorized, and "cleansed" of infidels (non-Moslems) to such an extent, that the terrorists can move about openly in daytime.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Dumbest guy Ever

This week's edition anyway:

According to police reports, Claude King, 31, approached Caroline Funkey's black GMC Envoy while it was stopped at a red light on the Glades Road exit off Interstate 95 in Boca Raton. Upon stepping up to the car, King smashed the driver's side window and pulled the driver out of the vehicle. Once inside, police said King began to punch the other four passengers.

Not smart but wait, it gets better:

...once King removed the passengers from the SUV, he began to drive wildly around the area, finally heading southbound down I-95.

Police said that, while heading southbound, King struck a white Chevrolet pickup and decided to turn around and head north. According to the report, he then struck another vehicle along the way and decided to pull over in Palm Springs.

A few minutes after the carjacking, police said they received a 911 call from a pay phone at Second and Congress Avenues in Palm Springs. It was King.

"Um, I committed a crime," he told the dispatcher. "I stole a vehicle."

When the dispatcher asked for his name, King told them, "I'd rather do this: Could you just send the police over here?"

The dispatcher then asked where the stolen car was located, to which King replied, "I couldn't even tell you. I don't even know where I'm at."

Palm Springs police Officer Lt. Mark Hall said they found King sitting on the curb near the stolen SUV.

I'm hopeful that the Police video will end up on You Tube at some point in the foreseeable future. The thought of seeing Mr. King sitting disconsolately on the curb waiting for the cops is priceless.

Edwards '08

The former vice presidential candidate quoted the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, saying America must overcome racial and socioeconomic prejudices to unite as “one nation, underprivileged, indivisible, with subsidy and justice for all.”

Scott Ott strikes again!

But on a serious note, it's nice to see folks still pimping the America-hates-blacks line:

Those cheering on Mr. Edwards's antipoverty crusade include party strategist Donna Brazile, who was Al Gore's campaign manager in his 2000 presidency bid. Recalling Mr. Edwards's past emphasis on the "Two Americas" theme, she says: "In 2004, that message went largely unheard. To his credit, he kept at it. And Katrina demonstrated the validity of that message."

Not on the Agenda

Journalist and author Richard Miniter wonders: Evidence of Iran’s involvement in the Iraq war is overwhelming. In the past two months, U.S. forces have sized caches of brand-new small arms of Iranian manufacture. That’s right, new guns just off the assembly line in Iran. What are they doing in Iraq? Iran’s state-run radio has admitted for years that it holds “under house arrest” more than 500 al Qaeda operatives—but refuses to turn them over. U.S. military intelligence has long complained that Iran is used as a transit point for al Qaeda (including the recently slain Omar al-Farouq, al Qaeda’s mover of money and men in Basra) and other enemies of democracy in Iraq. Saad bin Laden, Osama’s oldest son, now lives in Iran and is married to a daughter of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general. And so on.

Iraq is not in civil war. It is being torn apart by a proxy war waged by Iran and its puppet Syria. These arrests—indeed this story—should be front page news. Instead, it doesn’t even make the front page of the New York Times’ web site.

I don't know that I fully agree with Miniter's conclusion but to say the least, something is fishy. How is this not a huge story?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sounds about right

Cliff May posted something he called Marine Notes today. It sounds about par for the course if you've read any milblogging or related commentary of late. That is to say it reflects the narrative coming from many folks on the ground who are doing the actual work, not just "reporting" it from the Green Zone.

The take-away: [M]orale among our guys is very high. They not only believe that they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, is that there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria.

Boo hoo!

From the "Cry me a River" files...

Markos is a bit bent out of shape over the House GOP response to proposed rule changes at the behest of Nancy Pelosi:

So Pelosi and House Democrats have decided that they're not going to stiffle the minority party in the House, changing the very rules that kept Democrats marginalized and irrelevant for the last decade.

And how do Republicans repay this completely unnecessary act of kindness?

Republicans are hoping Democrats stick to their guns and allow the minority a stronger voice on legislation. The opposition leadership said it would take the opportunity to put forward initiatives that could be potentially troublesome for newly elected Democrats in Republican-leaning districts who within months will have to defend their hard-won seats.

“There are going to be days when we will offer alternatives in ways that are going to be very appealing to Democrats in districts the president carried just two years ago,” said Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, who will be the second-ranking House Republican in the 110th Congress.

Republicans see the ability to force tough votes — which they avoided in the majority by stifling Democratic alternatives — as having two potential benefits: It can put vulnerable Democrats on record with positions that might not be popular at home, or it can fracture the untested Democratic majority. Mr. Blunt noted that even senior Democrats who served in Congress when Democrats held control had no experience dealing with a relatively thin, 16-seat majority that will not allow many lawmakers to avoid tough votes.

He rightly points out that we currently find ourselves in an era of hardball politics, but I'd love to ask a question right 'bout now: Can Markos take us back to the era of good feeling in the Senate and point out all the cooperation the majority received at the hands of the Democratic minority from 2003 through 2006?

It's hardball. You get half-credit for recognizing it as such but then it's taken right back for all the whining.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Buck Melanoma

Just as funny as the first time you saw it...

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Promise Fulfilled

Luke 2:16-20--16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Promise

Isaiah 9:2-7--2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Christmas' a Comin'!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

How angry must you be?

A California man set himself afire yesterday in protest of the local school board's decision to rename winter and spring breaks Christmas and Easter vacation, respectively:

A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district's decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation.

The man, who was not immediately identified, on Friday also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam.

Kern County Sheriff's Deputy John Leyendecker said the man had a sign that read: "(expletive) the religious establishment and KHSD."

What a sad, confused and angry man to do such a foolish thing.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dead Drop

As details about Sandy Berger's pilfering of documents from the National Archives in 2003 came out yesterday, the image morphed from bumbling boob to intentional thievery. Mike McLellan at the Arizona Republic had an interesting commentary:

Well, the truth came out recently about what he actually did, which was closer to Inspector Clousseau than James Bond. The Archives staff was suspicious of him because of his behavior and kept track of his movements while there. What happened was this: he stole the documents, took them outside and put them under a construction trailer, came back later, tore them into little pieces, and threw them away.

Which begs the question, still: Why did Berger risk his reputation (and possibly very serious charges) to get those documents? They related to security issues at the turn of the century. What was in them that Berger went to such great lengths to hide?

Well, okay maybe bumbling boob still works. Regardless, what's unbelievable is that the press so cavalierly ignores what happened here.

Here's a thought...

Let's negotiate with Iran...while they're destabilizing efforts in two theatres of operation:

Irrespective of the outcome of the James case, the mere suggestion that Iran should be seeking to recruit someone with access to the innermost counsels of Nato's high command is indicative both of Teheran's intense interest in Nato's activities in Afghanistan, and its determination to ensure that the West is not allowed to succeed in transforming the country from Islamic dictatorship into stable democracy.

It also makes a mockery of the recent suggestion, advanced in both Washington and London, that the only way to resolve the region's difficulties is by engaging in a constructive dialogue with Teheran. Whether it be in Iraq or Afghanistan, the over-riding priority of the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is to ensure the coalition's efforts at nation-building end in failure.

Maybe that will start to clue people in on just how utterly fatuous an idea this is.

11:13 PM UPDATE--The Cluephone Always Rings Twice:

The Iranian government is partly to blame for a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia, a federal judge ruled Friday. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth allows the families of the victims of the Khobar Towers bombing to seek $254 million in compensation from the conservative Islamic regime in Tehran.

Though intelligence officials have suspected a link between the Tehran government and the Saudi wing of Hezbollah, which the FBI has accused of carrying out the bombing, Friday's ruling is the first time a branch of the U.S. government has officially blamed Iran for the deaths of Americans in the bombings. "This court takes note of plaintiffs' courage and steadfastness in pursuing this litigation and their efforts to take action to deter more tragic suffering of innocent Americans at the hands of terrorists," Lamberth wrote. "Their efforts are to be commended."

Lamberth relied heavily on testimony by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who investigated the bombings. Two Iranian government security agencies and senior members of the Iranian government itself provided funding, training and logistical help to terrorists who carried out the attack on a dormitory that housed U.S. Air Force pilots and staff in Saudi Arabia, Freeh testified.

Lamberth had previously ruled that a survivor of the blast could seek compensation from Iran but Friday's ruling is the first time a court has said Iran was to blame for the deaths. The lawsuit was brought by the families of 17 of the 19 people killed in the attack.

Andy McCarthy makes clear that the AP claim of "the first time a branch of the U.S. government has officially blamed Iran for the deaths of Americans," is less than accurate. That's interesting and all, but hardly the point.

Still waiting, anxiously hoping somebody can make the argument about how and why we ought to be talking to the government in Iran instead of dealing with it in no uncertain terms.

"One ringy dingy..."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Impersonating Sim

Haven't got a durn thing to say...

Tales from Moronica: A Hollywood Story

Ah, the glitter of Hollywood...the bright lights..the money...the adulation...the addled brains.

Matt Damon on Hardball last night put on a display for the ages, in one interview capturing the essence of the inane rantings and ravings that characterize the most ridiculous of e-arguments:

MATTHEWS: Do you think the war was fought because the region--was it about WMD? Was it about Mideast politics? Was it about ideology?

DAMON: It kept changing when their excuses would change. They'd go, wait, actually they don't have any of that stuff. They'd go, oh, oh, well then it's actually about democracy. Well democracy is not going to work. We're just going to settle for--as long as it's secure. I mean, it just keeps changing.

MATTHEWS: Do you think guys like Cheney--I love to pronounce his name correctly, by the way. Do you think guys like--it's like a Dickensian name, Cheney. Do you think he knew he was saying stuff that wouldn't turn out to be true, or was he just mad dogged to fight the war?

DAMON: I'd like to see him under oath.

MATTHEWS: I would, too. I'd like to see him with you.


MATTHEWS: Do you think if you waterboarded Cheney, like in the movie, that you'd get a different truth out of him?

DAMON: Well, there's two answers to that question. One is he doesn't strike me as the kind of person who has any real personal courage. When it was his turn to go, he didn't go. He deferred six times.

MATTHEWS: He said he had other priorities.

DAMON: Yes, he had other priorities. And he doesn't seem to have other priorities about sending other kids there and other peoples kids.


MATTHEWS: We'll be back...

DAMON: ... The second part to the answer is that I believe that if you waterboard anybody, they'll tell you anything and that torture is completely impractical, on top of being dishonorable. It's completely impractical because you can--I mean, if you torture a normal person, if you torture anybody, they're going to tell you whatever you want them to tell you. So if you're getting information that you're going to then use and you get it by torturing them...

MATTHEWS: ... Why is man at his worst throughout history used it then if it doesn't work? Why has it always been part of--going to the Middle Ages, back to ancient times. People were so cruel to each other, they get what they want out of them. Why do they do it if it doesn't work?

DAMON: I don't know. I don't do it.

This is the kind of top-of-your-head, off-the-cuff ranting that passes for deep thinking at places like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos. Damon's criticism of Cheney's deferments ignores the fact that thousands of other men in similar life circumstances and of similar age were likewise granted the same kind of deferments.

As Hugh points out, it ignores even a basic understanding of Cheney's time in public service or the roles he's played over most of the last 30 years. Damon's criticism of the pro-war arguments fare no better.

As Hugh also notes, there were multiple arguments made for toppling Sadaam in 2002-2003. Tacit among them the humanitarian as well as transformative: The Administration's main public proponent of this view is Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who often speaks about the possibility that war in Iraq could help bring democracy to the Arab Middle East. President Bush appeared to be making the same point in the State of the Union address when he remarked that "all people have a right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny-- and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom."

Even those suffering from justification fatigue ought to pay special attention to this one, because it goes beyond the category of reasons offered in support of a course of action that has already been decided upon and set in motion. Unlike the other justifications, it is both a reason for war and a plan for the future.

Hugh is correct in this statement of the obvious about Nick Lemann's 2003 piece in the New Yorker: The complex arguments made for the invasion of Iraq were detailed by a liberal writer for a liberal magazine before the invasion and they haven't changed.

Damon was against the invasion. Fine. He has valid criticisms to make, fine. But he doesn't get to make stuff up and the charge of "changing justifications" is utterly ridiculous.

Matt Damon is a fine actor. To that he should stick. Like his early collaborative partner Ben Affleck, when extemporaneously discussing things political, he tends to look less like even an actor and more like a poser. And not a very good one.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Where I get off

According to the Washington Times this morning, the President is considering some deal-making in the interest of Legacy building over the next two years:

The Bush administration has sent signals since last month's elections that the president is prepared to accept some tax increases on upper-income families, worrying congressional Republicans and fiscal conservative watchdogs who say he will compromise with Democrats to win a legacy accomplishment.

Meanwhile, the House's top Republican on tax cuts, outgoing Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, warned last week that the White House has hinted that it will accept a tax increase on higher-income families in order to win accommodations from Democrats.

"I wish I were a bit more comfortable in listening to some of the noises that are currently being made," Mr. Thomas, California Republican, told the American Enterprise Institute, saying he is seeing signs that the administration may be "moving away from hard-fought policies to salvage what you thought you weren't going to get."

"Based upon some statements made by people in prominent positions who deal with money within the administration, comments about the individual top tax rate make me a little nervous," he said.

The White House-congressional split highlights a problem that Mr. Bush is likely to face for the next two years: the increasing division between Mr. Bush and his party as he works to find common ground with Democrats and Republicans work to hold the line on tax cuts and other gains they made on the Republican agenda.

Social Security could be the first test. Since November, Mr. Bush has said everything should be on the table in the effort to fix the program's finances -- a statement in sharp contrast to his declaration after the 2004 elections that "We will not raise payroll taxes to solve this problem."
Asked twice in recent weeks about the president's plans, White House press secretary Tony Snow wouldn't rule tax increases out.

Where do I start...

As one who has defended the President's policies in Iraq, his effort to deal with Social Security two years ago and both the SWIFT and NSA surveillance programs; as one who has endured name-calling, condescension and outright hostility for my trouble, this is infuriating.

I've defended Iraq because, despite the incompetent execution and poor judgments along the way, I thought the overall policy was right. Deep down I believe the President "gets it" when it comes to fighting Islamists in the WOT.

I certainly believed in 2001 that he "gets it" on tax policy, like many wishing he'd go even farther. But this is absurd.

After 5+ years of being called a sycophant, shill and apologist I've about had all I can take and now I see the man I've stuck out my neck--figuratively speaking--to defend potentially caving on a core conservative principal in search of a "legacy."

Well, sir...Iraq is your legacy whether you want it or not. You want a legacy, fix that and do it right while you still can.

As for this tax nonsense, if it goes down like this report suggests, I'm done. This is where I get off.

And Rightly So

The DNA lab that agreed to withhold evidence in the Duke University rape case is coming under investigation:

Despite this revelation, there has been no sign that the North Carolina State Bar has abandoned its passive approach regarding Nifong’s misconduct. Meehan, however, might face a different fate.

His lab is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). I emailed the board to ask if it planned to investigate Meehan’s accreditation status in light of Friday’s testimony. Executive Director Ralph Keaton responded,

As the accrediting body for the laboratory in question, ASCLD/LAB will conduct a review of the issue in question. ASCLD/LAB is aware of the ongoing legal process and will take that into consideration in determining the appropriate time to review the circumstances.

Suffice to say that Brian Meehan's reputation, and that of his lab, is shot. How much longer before this all lands--rightfully--back on the head of DA Mike Nifong?

What a disgrace...

One-Trick Pony

Retire already, Helen. You're a shadow of your former self...people aren't taking you, your commentaies or your ridiculous questions all that seriously anymore:

MR. SNOW: Let me just repeat again, none of these things are simple. And in life, anytime somebody is looking for a new way forward — and we've all been in businesses where people look for new ways forward — those take a lot of time. And the most important thing for the President is to do it thoroughly and do it right. And when he is satisfied that all the pieces are put together in a way that he thinks is comprehensive and will, in fact, help us move toward the goal of an Iraq that stands up on its own, then he'll present it to the American people and to the world.

Q Has the President factored in any of how many people will die?

MR. SNOW: Helen, you ask that question every day, and I don't know how I can —

Q It's a very valid question.

MR. SNOW: And it's a question he thinks about every day.

Q And does he care about it? Does it matter how many die?

MR. SNOW: Yes, it does. Absolutely.

Q Well, you have a benchmark now — this fall has been so lethal.

MR. SNOW: And the people who have been killing will kill even more if we walk away. I would turn you to The New York Times op-ed page today, where a Marine Major talks about —

Q Written by a Marine.

MR. SNOW: I'm sorry, does that make it suspect that he's on the ground trying to save lives?

Q No, that doesn't. But, I mean, he has to take the military attitude.

MR. SNOW: Well, you might want to read it, because the military — the military attitude is, warriors don't like to be engaged in war if you can have peace, and generals don't like to send people into battle unless they have to. The people who are instigating the violence in Iraq are ones who are determined to kill.

Q You don't think our occupation is a factor?

MR. SNOW: I think the biggest factor right now — if you take a look at what's going on, who are they killing? They're killing Iraqis, aren't they? They are primarily killing Iraqis. And what they're trying to do is to destroy hope and peace and democracy.

Q How do you know all that? I mean, why do you think people would want to do that? In the first place, they don't like an occupation.

MR. SNOW: Could it be they're suffused with hatred? Could it be that people, in fact, who are in unoccupied lands, who have been slaughtering, also do so because they hate people? The question is —

Q Do we hate them? Are we killing any of them?

MR. SNOW: Yes, we are.

It's sad to watch what she's become.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Not quite fitting the Iraq-is-Vietnam, end of the world hysteria is this piece in the current issue of Newsweek:

Even so, there's a vibrancy at the grass roots that is invisible in most international coverage of Iraq. Partly it's the trickle-down effect. However it's spent, whether on security or something else, money circulates. Nor are ordinary Iraqis themselves short on cash. After so many years of living under sanctions, with little to consume, many built up considerable nest eggs—which they are now spending. That's boosted economic activity, particularly in retail. Imported goods have grown increasingly affordable, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers. Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. "The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom," says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. "In a sense, they've succeeded."

Meanwhile, Iraq's official economic institutions are making progress, improbable as that might sound in the context of savage sectarian violence and a seemingly complete breakdown of leadership and law. Yet it's a fact. A government often accused of being no government at all has somehow managed to take its first steps to liberalize the highly centralized economy of the Saddam era. Iraq has a debt-relief deal with the IMF that requires Baghdad to end subsidies and open up its gas-import market. Earlier this year the government made the first hesitant steps, axing fuel subsidies—and sending prices from a few cents a liter to around 14. "This has become one important way of institutionally engaging with Iraq," says economist Colin Rowat at the University of Birmingham. "If you lose that engagement, then that means a lot more people have given up on Iraq."

Do countries in the middle of a civil war have functioning economies? Just wondering...

Not your Father's cafeteria!

Lompoc High School has a Food Court. What is the world coming to?:

Nor is there debate about the cavernous room once known as the cafeteria. That old-school label still appears in raised block letters outside the building, but inside it has been transformed. It is now "Braves Bistro Food Court," a hip cafe.

The long green institutional tables with attached benches are gone. So are the frozen burritos packaged during the Reagan administration and the depressing atmosphere of chow hall at the prison. Nobody used to come here.

"I never set foot in this room as a student nor as a teacher," said a smiling Bree Jansen, the sunny and locally reared LHS activities director. "Until this year."

At 11:30 a.m. on a recent Friday a bell sounds. Milliseconds later the first Brave flashes through the Bistro door and vaults a cord demarking The Main Event serving line from four others. The second arrival slides under the rope (Where were these guys during football season?). An eyeblink later a double column extends 25 feet before disappearing out the door.

Today's marquee attraction? Teriyaki chicken rice bowl.

"You used to see 100 students here, max," teacher Jim Steffey said as he gathered up lunch to take back to his room. "Now you can't get in without bumping into people. I'm seeing kids eating lunch who didn't eat before."

When I was in HS I don't think I ate a single mcafeteriae cafateria. Not one.

Of course back then "thinking outside the box" meant finding something else to throw in with the mystery meat in order to come up with some new amazing meal. It didn't mean re-thinking the way you feed your students.

We should be so Lucky

Dreaming at the DC Examiner:

Carter would do himself and his countrymen a favor by permanently resisting the urge to offer any further commentary on world affairs.

The worst President of my lifetime still working hard to be the worst ex-President of my lifetime.

Yes, he did

I could swear Ted Kennedy said this morning on Fox News Sunday that some 36 million Americans go to bed hungry every night and 12 million of them are children (I'm quoting from memory). He insisted that the numbers were on his side. I'm sorry, but does anyone think that's even remotely true? That systemic hunger is a chief symptom and problem of poverty in America? Come on.

Yes Jonah, he did. And he insisted that Chris Wallace's use of numbers from the Brookings Institute were woefully wrong.

Here's a study based on both "client" and agency data that states the numbers above somewhat differently:

--The A2H system served an estimated 24 to 27 million unduplicated people annually, with a midpoint of 25.3 million.

--36.4% of the members of households served by the A2H National Network are children under 18 years old (Table 5.3.2).

--8% of the members of households are children age 0 to 5 years (Table 5.3.2).

Of course this is but one study and without taking the time to dissect the methodology there's not much to say about whether or not it is providing accurate numbers. But the numbers here most certainly don't tell the same story the good Senator wove for us yesterday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's the Rules of Engagement, Stupid!

A first on FNS today as Senator Ted Kennedy appeared with Chris Wallace discussing Iraq and the far-too-early beginnings of the 2008 Presidential campaign. In the early part of the interview, the Senator preened for us all about how right he was on the question of Iraq in 2003:

WALLACE: But, Senator, let me follow up on that. Last March you said the following, and let's put it up on the screen: "The administration has been dangerously incompetent, and its Iraq policy is not worthy of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform."

If you truly believe that, don't you and your fellow Democrats have an obligation, now that you are going to be in control of Congress, to try to stop this president from fighting the war?

KENNEDY: Well, first of all, I was opposed to the war. It was the best vote that I ever had in the United States Senate. And in January of 2005, I laid out a pathway toward what I think would have been reconciliation and success in Iraq, two years ago, that called for the reduction of troops, the redeployment of troops, talked about the Iraqis moving ahead in terms of the reconciliation and talked about the regional kinds of diplomacy. That was two years ago.

Now, one thing about the Democrats is we will support our troops, but we also can support our troops so they are not in harm's way. And I think that's a very important...

Pressed to clarify, the Senator responded with this:

KENNEDY: Well, wait and see. That offers all kinds of options. Our commitment is to the troops, so they're not getting caught in a crossfire and a civil war, which they are.

What are their rules of engagement between the Shia and the Sunni today? You can't tell us, and neither can we hear that in the Armed Services Committee. We are involved in that civil war.

And we are not going to pull the line, in terms of the troops. But we are also leaving open options to protect those troops in whatever way that that would come up...

Wallace's line of questioning followed on from his discussions last week about the "Surge option" currently under consideration by the WH. Kennedy is staunchly opposed to adding troops on the ground (having suddenly had a death-bed conversion as to the rightness of US commanders in Iraq). His clarifying statement, it seems to me, represents the Senator's frustration and consternation with the entire situation as he tells Chris that no one knows what the soldiers' role is, not even the Congressional committee charged with oversight of the Armed Forces.

It seems though that the good Senator isn't reading. There are plenty of discussions and contemplations about the current Rules of Engagement in Iraq.

A first hint of what's wrong with the current ROE can be found in this post at Captain's Journal from early this month:

As discussed in Newsweek's expose on Marine Captain Rob Secher, Captain Secher wrote home that "any time an American fires a weapon there has to be an investigation into why there was an escalation of force."

In my article Unleash the Snipers!, I noted that Marines in Ramadi have noted the hindrance the rules of engagement have become to themissionson:

The military has also tightened rules of engagement as the war has progressed, toughening the requirements before a sniper may shoot an Iraqi. Potential targets must be engaged in a hostile act, or show clear hostile intent.

The marines say insurgents know the rules, and now rarely carry weapons in the open. Instead, they pose as civilians and keep their weapons concealed in cars or buildings until just before they need them. Later, when they are done shooting, they put them swiftly out of sight and mingle with civilians.

In my article Racoon Hunting and the Battle for Anbar, I noted that Marines from Fallujah report that:

"A lot of us feel like we have our hands tied behind our back," says Cpl. Peter Mattice, of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. "In Fallujah, [insurgents] know our [rules of engagement] - they know when to stop, just before we engage."

Most recently, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who interviewed PGA golf professionals on a tour of Iraq to entertain the troops, we have this sobering report directly from the front:
"One guy told me, 'I'm hesitant to do the job I was trained for. I don't want to return fire because I might be on CNN the next day.' That's sad. That's a guy risking his life for us. He doesn't want his family to see him on CNN being portrayed the way those guys are being portrayed."

"He said, 'The hardest thing for a soldier to do, despite all his training, is to return fire when he is fired upon,' Kelly said. "It shows the smallness of the position I'm in, comparably speaking. Fear of failure (in golf) and fear of death, come on, there's no comparison."

For those who know about the confused ROE, this should not be surprising.

A week later the same blogger continues the discussion and zeroes in: So there is an argument that the existing ROE is in place due to legalities as discussed above, but there are also true believers in the small footprint and soft glove to "win the hearts and minds of the people." This issue is made more complicated by the involvement and importance of ROE not just at the tactical level, but the strategic and even doctrinal level as well.

In the end, the most compelling witness to the success or failure of a strategy is the effect on the ground. Rules of engagement have a strategic import in that the lack of proper ROE will always cause doctrine to become mute and tactics to fail. The testimony of three respected NCOs is that the current ROE are not only not helpful, but that they are a hindrance and impediment to accomplishment of mission objectives. Thus, the strategic importance of ROE. ROE cannot cause us to win, but they can sure cause us to lose.


There will be those who say that the NCOs are not privy to things necessary to understand ROE, or who say that they exaggerated, or any of a host of other things. These things may be said by institutional military, and may even be said from the safety and warmth of an office or living room while typing on a computer. But wishing it doesn't make it so. The NCOs have weighed in, and they have done so without equivocation.

When self-defense is considered to be a subset of unit self defense, and when the commanding officer can restrict the right of individual self defense, the ROE are in need of revision. But the argument at Blackfive is salient. Were it not for media pressure on the war in Iraq, there might be no need for the current ROE. The public has yet to realize that immaculate warfare does not exist.

The problem has many ingredients. One part media pressure, one part ROE in need of revision, one part military brass seeking protection, and one part public expectations for modern warfare combined with waning support for the war, and the result is a witch's brew of problems for U.S. troops.

The take-away is simple and obvious: the current ROE (whatever the specifics) are restrictive and put US soldiers at great risk and even at the extreme, curb their effectiveness. Kennedy is right, we don't know necessarily what the specifics are but we are certainly able to measure the effect. Part of that effect is higher casualty rates over time than we'd seen in years.

The Senator is entitled to his position on the war but I find his support of General's Abizaid and Casey's "light footprint" position somewhastaunchEspecially given his stuanch opposition from the beginning of the President's approach to war-fighting which has always been based on--what else--what the General's on the ground were telling him.

The irony of such was not lost on FNS panel member Bill Kristol who commented on it later in the broadcast. But back to the ROE, we see what they are but what should they be?

Again, I wonder if the Senator is reading. The best argument for what they ought to be that I've seen comes again from Victor Davis Hanson, just two days ago:

If we add another 30,000 or so troops to Iraq, in a final effort to win the war, then we must change (widen) the rules of engagement. Only that way can America ensure that it simply does not create more targets for the insurgents, add a larger logistical trail, and ensure more Iraqi dependency on our soldiers.

What would that entail?

Putting Iran and Syria on notice that we will bomb terrorists flocking across their borders.
Give an ultimatum to militia heads, especially Moqtadar Sadr, to disband or face annihilation from the United States.

Expand the rules of engagement in all matters dealing with IEDs, with a shoot on sight rule concerning anyone found implanting or aiding such efforts.

Enlarge the planned Iraqi security forces to near 400,000, and embed far more Americans in those units.

Recalibrate the ratio of support to combat troops, so that we don't simply create bigger compounds to facilitate larger troop levels to end up with more stationary and more numerous targets--and ever more enclaves of Americans behind thousands of acres of bermed reserves.

So spell out the mission, the new rules of engagement, and then, and only then, surge--if need be--more troops.

Any additional troops need to do what they are trained and best-suited for: military missions, not police work. The first natural target for such is Moqtada Al-Sadr, the thug dressed up in sheik's clothing.

I was of the mind two years ago that we should have more forcefully and directly dealt with him then and my mind remains unchanged. His is the poster child for armed Shiite militia's and the Maliki government, either by choice or circumstance is unwilling and/or unable to deal with him. The US marines will not have the same difficulty finding and defeating his forces and doing so will send strong messages about the seriousness of efforts at finally bringing security to the capitol.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

One Good Option?

Critics of the Bush administration have maintained for sometime both that the President is intent on taking direct military action against Iran and that such an act is ill-advised at best and potentially disastrous at worst. For critics on the left, such action would be essentially par for the course--yet another bad choice in a long line of bad choices and poorly run adventures. For some of us on the right, such action represents, not a first-and-best option but rather something potentially required out of necessity.

Author and history professor Arthur Herman examines this situation from a slightly different angle than most in his current piece at Commentary. While most other assessments of the situation in the Gulf pertaining to Iran's behavior focus near-solely on the race for nuclear weapons, Herman points out that Iran is already a formidable force in the region in conventional terms. From there he points to one military option that is limited, very precise in it's targeting and perhaps one of the only good options available to the US, Europe and even Asian nations with vital interests in the Persian Gulf.

The key to the whole operation is the point that isn't but should be obvious to all: for all Tehran's bluster about shutting off the flow of Oil, that spigot runs both ways and if oil isn't flowing out of Iran, gasoline and most importantly, currency, isn't flowing into the country and it's economy is in mortal danger:

Every country in Western Europe and Asia, including those that complain most bitterly about American policy in the Middle East, depends on the steady maintenance of the global economic order that runs on Middle Eastern oil.

But--and herein lies a fruitful irony--so does Iran itself. Almost 90 percent of the mullahs' oil assets are located either in or near the Gulf. So is the nuclear reactor that Russia is building for Iran at Bushehr. Virtually every Iranian well or production platform depends on access to the Gulf if Iran's oil is to reach buyers. Hence, the same Straits by means of which Iran intends to lever itself into a position of global power present the West with its own point of leverage to reduce Iran's power--and to keep it reduced for at least as long as the country's political institutions remain unprepared to enter the modern world.

And there it is that the stage is set for a conventional operation that, hypothetically successful, threatens the current regime with removal from inside:

The first step would be to make it clear that the United States will tolerate no action by any state that endangers the international flow of commerce in the Straits of Hormuz. Signaling our determination to back up this statement with force would be a deployment in the Gulf of Oman of minesweepers, a carrier strike group's guided-missile destroyers, an Aegis-class cruiser, and anti-submarine assets, with the rest of the carrier group remaining in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Navy could also deploy UAV's (unmanned air vehicles) and submarines to keep watch above and below against any Iranian missile threat to our flotilla.

Our next step would be to declare a halt to all shipments of Iranian oil while guaranteeing the safety of tankers carrying non-Iranian oil and the platforms of other Gulf states. We would then guarantee this guarantee by launching a comprehensive air campaign aimed at destroying Iran's air-defense system, its air-force bases and communications systems, and finally its missile sites along the Gulf coast. At that point the attack could move to include Iran's nuclear facilities' not only the "hard" sites but also infrastructure like bridges and tunnels in order to prevent the shifting of critical materials from one to site to another.

Above all, the air attack would concentrate on Iran's gasoline refineries. It is still insufficiently appreciated that Iran, a huge oil exporter, imports nearly 40 percent of its gasoline from foreign sources, including the Gulf states. With its refineries gone and its storage facilities destroyed, Iran's cars, trucks, buses, planes, tanks, and other military hardware would run dry in a matter of weeks or even days. This alone would render impossible any major countermoves by the Iranian army. (For its part, the Iranian navy is aging and decrepit, and its biggest asset, three Russian-made Kilo-class submarines, should and could be destroyed before leaving port.)

The scenario would not end here. With the systematic reduction of Iran's capacity to respond, an amphibious force of Marines and special-operations forces could seize key Iranian oil assets in the Gulf, the most important of which is a series of 100 offshore wells and platforms built on Iran's continental shelf. North and South Pars offshore fields, which represent the future of Iran's oil and natural-gas industry, could also be seized, while Kargh Island at the far western edge of the Persian Gulf, whose terminus pumps the oil from Iran's most mature and copiously producing fields (Ahwaz, Marun, and Gachsaran, among others), could be rendered virtually useless. By the time the campaign was over, the United States military would be in a position to control the flow of Iranian oil at the flick of a switch.

I can hear the critics now--"Cmon, we were told Iraq would be easy too." Well, while extreme skepticism I suppose is warranted, Herman supports the premise with one important historical example involving the same nations in the same region:

An operational fantasy? Not in the least. The United States did all this once before, in the incident I have already alluded to. In 1986-88, as the Iran-Iraq war threatened to spill over into the Gulf and interrupt vital oil traffic, the United States Navy stepped in, organizing convoys and re-flagging ships to protect them against vengeful Iranian attacks. When the Iranians tried to seize the offensive, U.S. vessels sank one Iranian frigate, crippled another, and destroyed several patrol boats. Teams of SEALS also shelled and seized Iranian oil platforms. The entire operation, the largest naval engagement since World War II, not only secured the Gulf; it also compelled Iraq and Iran to wind down their almost decade-long war. Although we made mistakes, including most grievously the accidental shooting-down of a civilian Iranian airliner, killing everyone on board, the world economic order was saved--the most important international obligation the United States faced then and faces today.

As I said, many of us on the right aren't exactly dreaming about such a scenario. We do though, depending on who you're talking to, think it perhaps is unavoidable. If and when the time comes, something like what Herman proposes here might be the best approach.

The beauty of the proposal is it's precision. By focusing exclusively on Iran's largest strategic vulnerability, it assures with success a forced change. Could the mullahs truly withstand the ramifications of Iran's oil operations choking on their crude and the economic ripples it caused throughout the country? Given recent events and just Thursday's news of hardliner's clashes with reformers is it so outlandish to believe the answer to the question is, No?

Herman presses the point in closing: That the regime in Tehran is indeed hated, and also radically unstable, is a point on which both advocates and opponents of American action can agree. In this connection, it is important to bear in mind that Iran is rent by ethnic divisions and rivalries almost as fierce as those that divide Iraq or such former Soviet republics as Georgia and Russia itself. Almost half of Iran's population is made up of Kurds, Baluchis, Azeris, Arabs, and Turkomans. Unlike the Persians, who are Shiites, most of these minorities are Sunni. Thus, Iran is a country ripe for constitutional overhaul, if not re-federation. Unless the current regime and its backers are willing to change course, decisive military action could open the way for an entirely new Iran.

The key word is "decisive." What has cost us prestige in the Middle East and around the world is not our 2003 invasion of Iraq but our lack of a clear record of success in its aftermath. Governments in and around the Persian Gulf region are waiting for someone to deal effectively and summarily with the Iranian menace. Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, and others--all feel the pinch of an encroaching power. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to stop the Iranian advance.

Is this the best military option for Iran? I don't know and if I had to wager I'd guess even the Pentagon isn't sold on there being a 'best' option. Is it a good option? Herman's approach gives a good chance at fulfilling the objective of hurting Iran's multi-faceted efforts in the Middle East with a decent likelihood of success while minimizing the potential for greater damage and escalation into something nobody wants.

Stick it on a list of already not-so-great options and it begins to look pretty good.

Beneath the Surface

Political machinations in Iraq? IraqPundit doesn't come out and say it but a reading between the lines seems to point in that direction:

But while there's violence in the streets of Baghdad everyday, there may be more to this attack than the brief news dispatches suggest.

Adel Abdul Mahdi could soon replace the ineffectual Nouri Al Maliki as Iraq's prime minister, and if he does, it will be with the happy agreement of every political player in Iraq except himself and Moktada Al Sadr. Thus, if Abdul Mahdi does become PM, then Al Sadr, who is regularly touted by a pernicious Western press as "the most powerful man in Iraq," would be reduced to a back-bencher thug, heading a minority bloc in parliament as well as leading a bloodthirsty militia that, he claims, he no longer controls.

Here's the background.

Finish it and you find that political levers are moving.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Night Frivolity


If this pans

Dr. Dosch had concluded in a 1999 paper that there were surprising similarities between diabetes and multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease. His interest was also piqued by the presence around the insulin-producing islets of an "enormous" number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.

Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. Salter used an old experimental trick -- injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes.

"Then we had the biggest shock of our lives," Dr. Dosch said. Almost immediately, the islets began producing insulin normally "It was a shock ? really out of left field, because nothing in the literature was saying anything about this."

It turns out the nerves secrete neuropeptides that are instrumental in the proper functioning of the islets.

Life > Blogging

Sad but true. Especially since I'm sitting on a couple of decent ideas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Puttin on the Ritz!

Peter Boyle died Tuesday night at age 71. He will, and probably rightly so, be forever remembered as the irascible Dad to Ray Romano on Everybody Loves Raymond. For every good actor their is a role of a lifetime and for Boyle, that was it.

But he was a journeyman, working for years in the sweat shop known as Hollywood where character actors earn a living in blissful obscurity. Boyle had a fine range and I can think of two other memorable roles right off the top of my head--the political consultant from 1972's The Candidate and of course, this shown here (HT to the Corner).

In fact, it is this one here that I personally will always recall. Perhaps I was just too impressionable at the time I first saw it or maybe it's that good. I don't really know.

I do know it was still good for a laugh 32 years later as we discussed it around the water-cooler yesterday...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Line of the day

The Line of the Day comes again from Dean Barnett at in response to the musings of Glenn Greenwald. Glenn's thesis in a nutshell is that newspapers exist to check the power of government. You can read the entire piece linked by Dean in his post but here is the line of the day:

I have always thought that the “core function that newspapers are intended to perform” was to report the freakin’ news!

Yes, a concept so simple that you'd think it never need stating. Alas, however it seemed to elude Greenwald. The point however was not lost on commenters though, sadly, an Attack of the Contrarians (read: trolls) turned the comment thread into an exhibition on how to skewer strawmen. This comment from aurorawatcher, a once and future news reporter, pretty much sums Dean's point up nicely with the weight of experience behind it:

Journalistic ethics

I used to be a reporter and Barnett has a point. The purpose of journalism is to report the news -- all sides of it where available. Anytime a reporter injects their own personal opinion into an article, they are writing an editorial, not the news. Journalism's job is not to be adversarial, but to be thorough. That may sometime be perceived as adversarial by some parties, but that's their problem.An example -- in college, I covered the story of a rape on campus. The student newspaper and the local community press were not notified of this. A friend tipped me off because he had found the victim weeping in a dormitory stairwell. Campus Security told me that the rapist, who was unidentified, was "not a student based upon the victim's description." I could have stopped there since I didn't have access to the victim, but I knew what dorm the rape had taken place in, so I interviewed the residents. I found out that there had been a series of rapes and that at least one student had been stalked. I followed the leads. I reported the facts. Much as I wanted to, I made no judgments in my article about whether Campus Security was doing an adequate job of protecting the students and informing the public. Campus Security's chief contacted my editor grumbling that I had "overstepped" my authority and was told that I had acted as a reporter should, and a couple of days later, the Alaska State Troopers (alerted by my fair and balanced article) launched their own investigation that found that the rapist/stalker was a University student living in the same dorm complex as his victims. I was later told by a Trooper captain I took a class with that my non-antagonistic approach had been what caught his attention and made him assign officers to the case. Had I seemed partisan and challenging, I would have seemed to have an agenda against Campus Security and the State Troopers might have opted to remain out of the investigation altogether.A free and fair press is the best weapon against tyranny, but only if the press remains as fair as it is free. Partisan politics has no place in a newspaper or broadcast report. Journalists have made themselves ineffective with their agenda-driven opinion and the only solution is for them to return to fair and balanced reporting.It's not about which side a reporter agrees with. It's only about what the facts are and the facts will speak for themselves.

Working at a paper now, though it be a small market entity, and having observed the editorial staff in action for over a year, I would agree with both aurora and Dean. Greenwald's use of the term "adversarial" is too open to interpretation to be clear in the context used.

The press exists, first and foremost, to gather, aggregate appropriately and publish information. Papers can and do take an "adversarial" stance often--it's called the editorial page. That is where the injection of pure opinion is allowed and frankly, welcome. Interjections of reporting assumptions about motivations and actions is wholly inappropriate in straight news reporting.

Sadly, much of the national press has forgotten or chosen to ignore such a basic tenet of journalism.

Tech Support

Turned on the computer first thing this morning and noticed something strange; the AOL messenger windows that routinely annoy me upon booting up this beast were not staring at me as they normally do every other morning. Without thinking anything of it, I opened up IE and prepared to post my blog entries for the morning.

Only thing was, I couldn't anything. I managed to post later from an undisclosed location but upon arriving home found that the situation had not improved here at home. This simply wouldn't do.

Upon finally scrounging up the Verizon customer service number, my tech support call was handled courteously and fairly quickly given the several steps needed to solve the problem. Frankly, given the day I'd had and my usual experience on such "customer service" calls I was very surprised. Pleasantly so.

So kudos to Verizon. My gal knew exactly what to do, how to walk me through the process and do it quickly and painlessly. A minor thing, I know but in a world of automated menus and unfriendly service, a welcome occurrence!

How many times?

How many more times will Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call for, forecast, portend or otherwise promise the destruction of Israel before anybody bothers to actually do something about it?

Hugh hinted at the same question yesterday: Article 51 of the United Nations charter expressly contemplayes self-defense after an attack, but when the threat is an existential one, that right must exist prior to the delivery of the destroying blow. The Security Council has not acted. Doesn't this empower Israel to do so?

Much like wondering how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Roll Pop (3, by the way), just how long will the Iranians be allowed to make direct and thinly-veiled threats at Israel?

The Sweet Spot

Nap Time...I'm turning 41 in about a week and as I grow older I've gained a new appreciation for the art of napping. Dogs make it look effortless.

It's as simple as hopping up on the favorite piece of furniture, plopping down and wriggling around a bit 'til you find the sweet spot. It's all downhill from there.

As for people-napping, all I have to say is that nap time is wasted on the young; what interest does a pre-schooler have in taking a nap in a room with 20 other 4-year olds? None.

Meanwhile, all of us who rise at six a.m. and settle in for the night at eleven and who are most in need of added sleep have no opportunity. Or at the very least, only what we can steal for 10 minutes during the long day.

It's simply not fair.

In his fond tribute to the world's worst dog, John Grogan insists there are many things we can learn from our dogs:

I have this theory, and writing the book sharpened it, that people can learn a lot from their dogs. Lessons on how to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Lessons for successful relationships. Think about it. Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs-- loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love--can be elusive to humans.

It is the little things that shape our lives, every day. There are large, important moments scattered throughout life--weddings, births, successes and failures at work but much of every day is mundane and routine and frankly, not very exciting at all.

When I watch my dogs for any extended length of time, I notice that they understand how life inside of 4 walls and behind a fence is enough. I realize that simple bits of fun scattered throughout a day are enough to satisfy; how rewarding it is just being.

It's as simple as hopping up on the favorite piece of furniture, plopping down and wriggling around a bit 'til you find the sweet spot.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Moral Distinctions

On the issue of which dictator is worse, the WaPo has made clear their thoughts today with this. Meanwhile, over at the Corner, Jonah wonders exactly what it is he's been missing:

Do people really think that liberals have been sober-eyed moral realists about Castro from, say, Herbert Matthews' fawning coverage through, say, Oliver Stone's recent love-letter to Castro? I mean what am I missing? I don't have time to run through the soundbites of various scholar-statesmen from the Democratic leadership like Pat Leahy or various members of the Congressional Black Caucus. But come on! Hasn't some blogger compiled a good list of pro-Castroisms from the left? If not, someone should get on the stick.

And as for the second point, as someone who believes Communism really was as bad and dangerous as we conservatives said it was, I don't think I was being hypocritical at all. I think Pinochet was an S.O.B. as I said. I do think he is accountable for real crimes. But if we're going to compare the two, I think the case for Pinochet over Castro is a no-brainer, both as an instrument of foreign policy and as a moral choice between the two (and, if you take a look, you'll see the editors of the Washington Post agree with me). Both are bad choices, but one — on myriad levels, pragmatic and moral — is far worse than the other. Making meaningful distinctions is not hypocrisy, it's called "thinking."

Thoughts? Well, first off I didn't think the Post had it in 'em:

Like it or not, Mr. Pinochet had something to do with this success. To the dismay of every economic minister in Latin America, he introduced the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle -- and that not even Allende's socialist successors have dared reverse. He also accepted a transition to democracy, stepping down peacefully in 1990 after losing a referendum.

By way of contrast, Fidel Castro -- Mr. Pinochet's nemesis and a hero to many in Latin America and beyond -- will leave behind an economically ruined and freedomless country with his approaching death. Mr. Castro also killed and exiled thousands. But even when it became obvious that his communist economic system had impoverished his country, he refused to abandon that system: He spent the last years of his rule reversing a partial liberalization. To the end he also imprisoned or persecuted anyone who suggested Cubans could benefit from freedom of speech or the right to vote.

The contrast between Cuba and Chile more than 30 years after Mr. Pinochet's coup is a reminder of a famous essay written by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the provocative and energetic scholar and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who died Thursday. In "Dictatorships and Double Standards," a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.

I for one will make no apologies for Pinochet. I don't particularly like dictators, even "ours." Yet, Jonah is correct and right: Both are bad choices, but one — on myriad levels, pragmatic and moral — is far worse than the other. Making meaningful distinctions is not hypocrisy, it's called "thinking."

He and everyone else who points to the meaningful difference isn't being hypocritical. They're just being honest.

Terror TV

Jihadi propaganda, 24/7. Nice...

The soldiers and terps described the meaning of the images, music and voice overs. There were songs about the Iraqi “victims” of the “U.S. occupiers.” The violence in Iraq is squarely placed on the shoulders of the Americans. The images include destroyed mosques, dead women and children, women weeping of the death of their family, bloodstained floors, the destruction of U.S. humvees and armored vehicles, and insurgents firing mortars, RPGs, rockets and AK-47s. Juba, the mythical Iraqi sniper, was featured prominently (the Iraqi soldiers believe he is a composite of multiple snipers.)

The “mujahideen” are portrayed as “freedom fighters,” and are seen going through “ boot camp training.” Attacks from across the country were shown, including in Abu Ghraib, Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji, Baghdad and elsewhere. The soldiers are seasoned veterans from the 1st Iraqi Army Division, and have served throughout Iraq. Most of the footage was popular, rehashed videos widely distributed on the Internet and in jihadi forums. I recognized many of the videos.

Electing Smart People

It seems all you who couldn't stand Republican leadership in Congress went out of your way to elect some not-so-smarties:

Now the five-term Texas Democrat, 62, is facing similar unpleasant surprises about the enemy, this time as the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counterterrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?

Sleep well America, knowing that the incoming Chair of the House Intelligence Committee knows less about al-Qaeda than the average blog reader.

Still lost in translation

Jules Crittenden should be lauded for the painstaking effort that went into this post here:

(Please put on your headphones if you wish to hear this speech translated from the original Bullshit)

From there he goes on to translate Annan's inanities. And it is still a most pathetic collection of thoughts you'll ever want to come across. Good riddance, Kofi.

Monday, December 11, 2006

In other, other News

Kofi Annan's farewell address today was not much more than a veiled one-finger salute to the United States. Believe it or not, we were lectured today in these remarks and in a guest op-ed at the Washington Post by Kofi Annan on, yes boys and girls...accountability.

And in other news, I couldn't give a rat's a** what Mr. Oil-for-Food has to say on that or any other subject.


Seeing the Wisdom

The Editorial board at the Record gets behind the Santa Rita Hills Wine Center project in today's editorial:

Why is this important to the Central Coast in general? Because the center's blueprint offers a unique project that could add significantly to the Central Coast's mushrooming reputation as a place to visit for discerning wine lovers.

The deal for the land is not yet complete, but when it is, possibly as early as next month, local vineyard owner Rosario Perry plans to attract 10 to 15 separate wineries, put them up in a compound of buildings ranging in size up to 25,000 square feet, add a restaurant, bed and breakfast, and tasting room and call it the Santa Rita Hills Wine Center. Perry hopes to have the whole thing up and running by grape-crush time next October.

It's a good location for such a venture. The Lompoc Valley offers a different view of central Santa Barbara County. It's location so near the ocean ensures an almost continual, cool breeze, even when parts of the valley further east are sweltering in summer months. During parts of the year, the Lompoc Valley is ablaze with fields of colorful flowers.

The wine center is a proposal that should be embraced by the Central Coast's other wine operations.

Translating it into one simple and easy-to-understand phrase, I'd characterize my discussion this morning--and the paper's agreement--thus:

"It's the reputation, stupid!"

Laugh of the Day

Now, for the real laugh of the day...

It comes courtesy of Dean Barnett, c/o Ted Kennedy:

I have a different interpretation for Kennedy's move, "the first public fissure between the two Massachusetts Democrats on the issue of Kerry's presidential aspirations," as the Globe puts it. Let's face it - Kennedy knows a sinking Oldsmobile when he sees one.

Take another swing

Not quite the Laugh of the Day, but close. Dennis Kucinich is taking another stab at the Democratic Presidential nomination:

Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, said Monday he is planning another bid because his party isn't pushing hard enough to end the Iraq war.
In a statement, Kucinich said he plans to formally announce his candidacy on Tuesday at Cleveland's City Hall, where he served as mayor of his hometown in the 1970s.

The liberal, anti-war Ohio congressman said he was inspired to run because he disagrees with the way some of his fellow Democrats are handling the war, including approval of a proposal to spend $160 billion more on the conflict.

"Democrats were swept into power on Nov. 7 because of widespread voter discontent with the war in Iraq," said Kucinich, 60. "Instead of heeding those concerns and responding with a strong and immediate change in policies and direction, the Democratic congressional leadership seems inclined to continue funding the perpetuation of the war."

I'll lay odds at 3 to 1 that we see at least one more set of charts at a radio debate sometime between now and March '08.

Up and Coming

California's up-and-coming wine area has some big plans on the drawing board:

Plans are fermenting for a new 30,000-square-foot winery in the northeast part of town.

The Loring and Pali wine labels plan to build a winemaking facility in an industrial zone north of the intersection of Barton and West Central avenues. The wine producers, who submitted their application to the city in July, hope to have the new building running by late next year, if grading permits are approved by the city soon.

Perr said Lompoc is a good place for winemakers because it’s less expensive to operate here.

“Lompoc is an up-and-coming wine-making area and it is generally favorable to the development of wineries,” Perr said. “(City leaders) want the wineries in the area and that makes it more easier for us to get licenses and permits than other areas.”

Perr said one key reason for making wine in Lompoc is wastewater infrastructure.

“The infrastructure required to build a winery in Buellton, for example, is much more costly,” Perr said. “They require wineries to put in expensive waste treatment equipment before putting waste into the city sewer system. Lompoc’s waste treatment is more advanced.”

Other winemakers in town have said Lompoc’s cool temperatures have saved them money because air conditioning units, used elsewhere to keep wine temperate, are unnecessary.With Lompoc becoming a wine center, Lompoc Councilman DeWayne Holmdahl, who also hosts a radio wine show on, says the increase in Lompoc wineries with tasting rooms translates to economic benefit and good word-of-mouth publicity for the city.

People come from as far away as Italy to taste wine made in Lompoc, he said.“The biggest thing is retail dollars,” he said. “People come to town, spend money, more restaurants will open, hotels will be fuller. It generates itself.”

The pedestrian descriptions aside, Lompoc is actively searching out certain industries and types of business in an effort to revitalize it's image. The wine ghetto near the junction of Hwy's 1 & 246 is an example of the inroads that winemakers are making into the community, and this project on the other side of H street and east of residential neighborhoods in the north-central part of town would be but another.

Near simultaneously, you've got Los Angeles attorney Rosario Perry looking to build a wine center adjacent to and behind the existing Wal-Mart and FoodsCo center along Central Avenue:

A 12-acre parcel behind the Wal-Mart and FoodsCo complex on West Central Avenue appears headed for development as a state-of-the-art wine center — contributing to the city’s burgeoning potential as a destination for the production and libation of vino.

A large sign on the lot facing North L Street indicates preliminary plans for a project called the Santa Rita Hills Wine Center. A line on the sign above the project name reads “Coming in 2007.”

Escrow on the land closes next month, said Los Angeles attorney Rosario Perry, who owns a home east of Lompoc.

Perry, who hopes to apply for building permits with the city later this month, envisions bringing in 10 to 15 wineries with each housing production facilities. Each freestanding building would range from 2,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet and be scaled to the needs of tenants, he said. The buildings would also be as tall as 35 feet and may accommodate more than one tenant per building.

He said he hopes to the production part of the facility running for the 2007 grape crush next October, with completion of the project in about three to four years.

Perry has the vision. Perry's center, assuming it were built, would be yet another anchor in the major retail area off Central Avenue between H and O streets--one that might also see a Wal-Mart Supercenter in coming years, something that would make it even more of a destination.

Perry's project would also sit but a few minutes from the airport just to the north between the Wye and Central Avenue, a key to marketing the project: The location of the wine center is also key, Perry said. Being next to the Lompoc Airport would be good for business, he said.

“We believe being near the airport is very advantageous because it will allow easy access to the facilities and provide resources to those people using our facilities,” said Perry, who may build a hangar from his facility connecting to the airport. “People who want to come to the valley for wine tasting and touring, may want to use their airplane to get here.”

He and the city--at first glance anyway--seem to see eye to eye on the matter. The city would be wise to make such a development deal.

Thirty years ago Lompoc was known as the Flower seed capitol of the world, home then to 3 of the top 6 Flower-seed companies. That business has changed greatly in the years since and Lompoc's importance in the scheme of that industry is not what it was though remaining considerable.

The city is wisely open to fostering it's new reputation as an "up and coming wine production center,” and such projects are at the heart of building that new industry base and reputation. To my mind, there is no such thing as too much encouragement to be offered here.


If you read this part of the LA Times feature about the GOP's '08 crowd, you'd almost get the sense that they think Jeb Bush is playing a little bit of Kingmaker:

But the presentation was most notable for what it lacked: There was no photo of Jeb Bush with McCain. The absence of a McCain photo seemed to carry meaning. The presentation, with its implied signal of Jeb Bush's preferences among the GOP presidential field, was played last week for the governor's staffers and state lawmakers, many of whom are being courted by the 2008 contenders.

The presentation was produced by one of the governor's longtime advisors, Sally Bradshaw, who is now a Romney strategist. Bradshaw is so close to Jeb Bush that it is unlikely she would work for any of the 2008 candidates without his blessing. In an interview, Bradshaw said that Jeb Bush only "encouraged me" to meet with Romney, insisting that the Florida governor is not trying to indicate a favorite in the race.

I suppose then it's never too early for Big Media to start pounding on that McCain '08 drum...

And in other news...

The Sun rose in the East this morning and will likely set in the West tonight...

If you're going to try to pawn something off as news, it needs to be, well, news. In otherwords, something we didn't already know:

The head of the House Democrats' campaign committee, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, had heard of former Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate e-mails to a former male page a year before they became public, a campaign committee aide told CNN.

Foley, a Republican, resigned after the scandal broke. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republicans have suggested repeatedly that some Democrats knew about the e-mails earlier than they have acknowledged, but waited till midterm elections approached to bring up the issue.

Emanuel's campaign committee aide said Friday that the Illinois Democrat was informed in 2005, but never saw the correspondence and did not have enough information to raise concerns. The aide said Emanuel took "no action" because his knowledge was "cursory" and little more than "rumor."

The aide's acknowledgement differs from the flat "no" Emanuel gave in October when asked -- during an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" -- if he or anyone on his staff knew of the e-mails before the scandal broke.

Whether the effort was authored and executed at the level of the DCCC leadership or not is effectively a moot point. But please, let's not be coy--Dem political operatives and politicians knew of this behavior just as the Republican House leadership did. Only their responsibility was to find a way to use it to political advantage rather than acting in the interests of the young pages in the program.

How convenient. See, this is what always angered me most about the Foley situation. Lots of people knew...and no one deemed it worthy of exceptional action, inside or outside of Congress. So then exactly where was the "scandal"...?

And if saying that such a position is an abdication of the responsibility for oversight of the page program by Republican leadership, was not then also every other member who knew, every journalist who'd seen and read the emails also a worthy target of the anger and disdain that fell upon the heads of Denny Hastert and his fellow Republicans?

You'd think, but apparently not.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Culture of Corruption

It's alive and well as the Refrigerator is returned to Congress for yet another term. The cavalier use of rhetoric kills me. Truly, it does.

With a smile

On Thursday, Jed Babbin speculated on Donald Rumsfeld's departure from the Pentagon. On Friday the farewell came.

Was it a smile, or maybe more of a smirk?

  • Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels
  • Evangelical Outpost
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Camp Katrina
  • TPMCafe
  • Dodger Thoughts
  • Boy of Summer
  • Irish Pennants
  • tabletalk
  • Fire McCain
  • My Sandmen
  • Galley Slaves
  • Michelle Malkin
  • myelectionanalysis
  • Iraq the Model
  • Mystery Pollster
  • A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage
  • Right Truth
  • The Fourth Rail
  • Counterterrorism Blog
  • Just One Minute
  • Broken Masterpieces
  • Kudlow's Money Politic$
  • Econopundit
  • Tapscott's Copy Desk
  • The Blue State Conservatives
  • Palousitics
  • Christian Conservative
  • Outside the Beltway
  • The Belmont Club
  • Froggy Ruminations
  • The Captain's Journal
  • Argghh!!!
  • Chickenhawk Express
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Reasoned Audacity
  • Taking Notes
  • ThisDamnBlog
  • Three Knockdown Rule
  • Dogwood Pundit
  • Dumb Looks Still Free
  • Unfettered Blather
  • Cut to the Chase
  • Alabama Improper
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Michael Yon-Online
  • The Trump Blog
  • A Lettor of Apology
  • GM Fastlane Blog

  • Powered by Blogger

    Listed on BlogShares Who Links Here