Thursday, May 31, 2007

Freedom of the Press

From Don Surber:

Publishing 29 stories about a lie about a flushed Koran is bad enough. But when a newspaper then refuses to publish one story about a very real handbook on torture that is used by the enemy, that newspaper is no longer being objective.

It is taking sides.

And not the right side, at that.

Many good people made great sacrifices for freedom of the press. It is sad to see today's newspaper people piddle away that heritage.

That's the close to the column, but hardly the best of it. Read it all.

The Times hasn't been bludgeoned so badly in quite some time...

Kos rips Fred

I just wonder if Markos knows much of anything about things that happened before 2002. First, check out the post here. Then check out Fred's bio here or here or hell, even here.

You'll notice that Fred has a number of fine accomplishments on his resume, most occurring long before Mr. Moulitsas' rise to fame.

Stick that in your Coffee Pot and smoke it!

Yes, it's good for something other than that fake smile first thing in the AM:

People joke about their coffee tasting like battery acid. But some newly published research suggests drinking coffee can help reduce unhealthy levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.
Uric acid is a natural waste product from the breakdown of foods containing purines, and normally is regularly flushed out through the kidneys. But some people either produce excessive amounts of uric acid or don't eliminate it efficiently.

High uric acid levels can contribute to a variety of health problems, from the arthritic disease gout to increased insulin resistance and risk of dementia and heart disease.
Gout occurs after excessive levels of uric acid for months and years leaves deposits of crystals in the joints.

Dr. Hyon Choi of the University of British Columbia and Brigham and Women's Hospital and colleagues looked at two groups -- 14,000 adult men and women who were part of a national health and nutrition survey between 1988 and 1994, and a group of 45,000 men 40 and older who were studied over 12 years starting in 1986.

Results from both groups, published in the journals Arthritis and Rheumatism and Arthritis Care and Research, showed that levels of uric acid in the blood significantly decreased as coffee intake increased, but not so with tea consumption. And the effect was even seen among those who drank decaffeinated coffee, suggesting that some component of coffee besides caffeine impacts uric acid.

Something I will point to next time somebody harasses me about my pot-a-day habit...

Why the Floor may Drop Out

At the Corner, this post captures perfectly the frustration of the President's last remnant of supporters.

For years now there's been a minimum of 35% or so percent of the public that disapproves of the job he's doing--they hate the way he speaks, much less his policies. These have been effectively gone since immediately after 9/11.

On the other end, roughly another 1/3 of the public have supported most, if not all the President's efforts on foreign or domestic policy with some specific exceptions such as Harriet Miers and Dubai Ports World. And in the middle have sat independents and reasonable folk of both left and right.

They have fluctuated from issue to issue and time to time, though over the course of the last year and a half on Iraq, they have swung to decisive disagreements with the President at home and abroad.

So what of K-Lo's post? Well, that dwindling third that I mentioned above is now being told by the President and a strange collection of Pro-Immigration Reform activists to shut up and sit down. This is absurd.

How is the man willing to alienate this small and dwindling group when it is all that stands between he and flat-out, no holds barred, all-time historic lows in Presidential approval?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Broken Record

I keep saying it and nobody cares. For a second time in a matter of months, Big Oil has said it:

“It is true that gasoline prices move with oil prices, but ... demand continues to go up. Even with gas prices over $3 per gallon, demand continues to go up. That's really quite surprising,” James Mulva, chairman and CEO of Houston-based ConocoPhillips, said during an exclusive interview on TODAY.

“The issue is providing supply. We are running our refineries at capacity ...

That of course is not all he said, though it is the salient point.

In an effort to quell the rumours before they start, all I can say about the real possibility raised by the near identical nature of our rhetoric, that I am in fact James Mulva is won't see us together at parties!

Admission against Interest

Robert Rosenthal, now former Managing Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle comments on the state of the Newspaper industry on his way out the door. And it ain't good:

"I really want to be in a situation where I can build something rather than take it apart," Rosenthal said. "It might be a newspaper or it might be a new kind of news organization. I think it's time where the skills we have as journalists can be applied in a different way. The business model for newspapers is clearly broken."

I guess that Settles It!

Kevin Drum is now convinced that Valerie Plame was in fact covert at the time her name was made public in 2003. All because Patrick Fitzgerald says so:

In a court filing today, Patrick Fitzgerald provides a summary of Valerie Plame Wilson's status with the CIA's Counterproliferation Division at the time she was outed to the press by members of the Bush administration. Guess what? She was covert:

While assigned to CPD, Ms. Wilson engaged in temporary duty (TDY) travel overseas on official business. She traveled at least seven times to more than ten countries. When traveling overseas, Ms. Wilson always traveled under a cover identity — sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias — but always using cover — whether official or non-official cover (NOC) — with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.

At the time of the initial unauthorized disclosure in the media of Ms. Wilson's employment relationship with the CIA on 14 July 2003, Ms. Wilson was a covert employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.

So that settles that. I hope the wingosphere can finally stop bleating about how she wasn't "really" covert and there was no harm in what Libby et. al. did.

Right wingosphere Plameologist Tom Maguire begs to differ. He writes, actually in response to the typically snarky Glenn Greenwald, that:

1. As to "Plame's covert status is based upon the CIA's own internal documents which make clear she was covert", I have labored at length to point out that the CIA, in its own vernacular, uses "covert" and "classified" interchangeably without regard to the IIPA. This was emphasized in my discussion of the Waxman hearing (linked above under "noted at the time") and is not a new point. However, I did allude to it in the original post above by saying "Waxman quite clearly danced around the question of whether Ms. Plame was "covert" as defined by the IIPA rather than by the less exacting in-house CIA standard". This semantic point - "covert" is used interchangeably with "classifed" by the CIA but is not consistent with "covert" a sper the relavant [sic] statute - is simply not controversial, subtle, or new.

Perhaps irrelevant in the short-term. Val may very well have been covert as defined under the IIPA and I remain open to the possibility, but seems to me the source for that conclusion ought to be the CIA, not Fitz.

Don't ignore Maguire's point that the CIA still has, presumably, not done the leg-work necessary to clearly, concisely and once-and-for-all put the question to rest: So what was the opinion of CIA Counsel on Ms. Plame's status under the statute? That would not be fully dispositive either, but it would certainly carry some weight. Bob Novak followed up on this with various annoyed Republican Congressman, and wrote this on April 12:

On March 21, Hoekstra [Ranking Republican on the House Intel Committee] again requested the CIA to define Mrs. Wilson's status. A written reply April 5 from Christopher J. Walker, the CIA's director of congressional affairs, said only that "it is taking longer than expected" to reply because of "the considerable legal complexity required for this tasking."

So as of April 2007 the CIA had not yet done the homework to form an opinion.

This of course is all irrevelant in the bigger picture. Sim rightly pointed out in another venue that the narrative on this has already been written. We'll sooner see it fossilized than changed at this point.

What of course is only slightly humorous is that neither Kevin nor Glenn nor any of the usual suspects triumphant over today's revelations have anything to say about the Changing stories of Valerie Plame.

Like I'm surprised.

Downing Street-ish

Kevin Drum discussed Jonathan Schwartz's take on Peter Eiser's tome, The Italian Letter in this blog post yesterday. I understand the reason folks want to run with his highlighted quote but it all struck me as somewhat Downing Street Memo-ish.

The funny part was, apparently more than a few commenters were less-than-convinced as I was. Highly unusual for Drum's crew.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bravery under Fire

Nothing like the courage of your convictions, is there!?

Hold on to your wallet, again!

This is really Sim's job but I'll give you the first heads-up. Hillary's talking about money again and seems we all ought to start getting nervous:

Hillary's talking "fairness."

Among her proposals in today's speech:

-"requiring big oil companies to either invest in alternative energy or pay into the Strategic Energy Fund to spur clean energy research and development."

-Without any specific legislative proposals, Hillary declares, "There needs to be greater public scrutiny of CEO pay, and more independence of Boards of Directors."

-reducing our dependence on foreign creditors (e.g. China); returning high-income tax rates to the 1990s levels; reforming the AMT; and ensuring that corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

Senator, "returning high-income tax rates to the 1990s levels" is raising taxes. Come on. You can say it. "I want to raise taxes."

A lot of people were, presumably, surprised to learn in the late 1990's that the other Clinton had an ongoing issue with truth-telling. I never understood this; it wasn't well hidden in the '92 campaign. Anybody paying attention at the time could have seen what was coming.

So I wonder with regard to the other Other Clinton, are we sitting here in the same boat? I mean, through some horrible set of misfortunes should she become President and taxes start going up, will we have any right to claim surprise?

When is a Dictator an Idiot?

When an idiot is Dictator. Or, when your name is Hugo Chavez:

Meanwhile, multiple sources around Caracas report that at a recent cabinet meeting, Chávez excoriated his ministers for disobeying his “orders” to stop inflation. Inflation has been spiraling as a result of Chávez’s reckless economic “policies” (if that is not too charitable a term). As a result, Chávez was moved to impose price controls in many categories of basic foodstuffs, which has predictably led to food shortages (despite huge oil windfalls) which has led to decrees obligating farmers and supermarkets to keep producing and selling, even if they incur losses.

Paints a picture of quite the econ whiz...

I thought he was smarter than this

Markos writes at the Daily Kos today:

It's actually quite amazing how poorly Rove is aging as his strategies and insights are not just a source of the GOP's current woes, but make little sense moving forward. Take for example his fantasy that eBay business people are natural GOP allies --

As a small business person myself, my biggest worries are 1) health care for my family (my rates nearly doubled this year, and they cover less and less), and 2) the influence of Big Business on my ability to operate effectively. In my case, it's the caustic influence of the big Telcos and their efforts to destroy Net Neutrality.

Health care is a universal concern for small business owners. And which small business retailer or manufacturer isn't worried about Wal-Mart destroying their livelihood?

It's that last line that gets me. Is it some sort of moral imperative for liberal Democrats that requires a good trashing of Walmart whenever possible? His other points aren't unreasonable nor unreasonably stated. In some instances, he's correct in terms of the market responses to Democratic and Republican policies.

But that case about Walmart isn't borne out. Anecdotal though it is, I can tell you there are plenty of small retailers who don't worry about that. Like us, for example.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thank You

A Lesson in Utility

It is to laugh. Everybody say "Bye bye...":

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

I think Glenn nails it on this one: ...when her utility as a Bush-bashing tool evaporated, the media weren't interested. Not even most of the alt-media.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pluralism Sunday

Today was Pluralism Sunday:

TCPC Promotes "Pluralism Sunday" for Progressive Christian Communities
This coming Pentecost, May 27, 2007, TCPC is inviting all affiliate congregations and other churches around the country to celebrate what we are calling Pluralism Sunday. We are encouraging the progressive Christian community to take this opportunity to celebrate the harmony and understanding that is possible among followers of different religions and spiritual traditions.

Pluralism Sunday is a step toward breaking down the walls of pride and prejudice that fuel culture clashes and foster physical violence in our homes, in our communities, and in the world.

We are proposing Pluralism Sunday as…

*time to bring people of other faiths to preach or help lead worship
*time to teach young people about the validity and value of other faiths
*time to integrate other religious traditions in worship through songs and liturgy
*time to let your wider community know that your church embraces religious pluralism: it’s an evangelism opportunity for reaching the many people who reject Christianity because they think it claims the only path to God.

Have we so forgotten the core convictions of our Christian faith that this is OK?

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I wish I could take credit for it. Alas, I cannot. I was introduced to it here though I suppose it's entirely possible it's been around a while.

I don't get out much these days.

Still more Scenes from the Mini-Vacation

A stone's throw from the Hotel (literally, you could throw one into the grove) is a bird sanctuary, this area hosting Blue Herons.

As I walked down to the water to shoot the Rock, these guys caught my eye.

A quick turn of the head to the left and I was greeted with this shot, a multitude of nests high in the numerous trees.

While staring out at the Rock and taking it all in for several minutes, it was as though they all realized it was now dinner time and began an orderly departure in pairs to points North of the Hotel.

What wasn't splattered all over CNN and the NYT

Britain's Telegraph reports the latest on the 'reformulating, reconstituting' Taliban in Afghanistan:

The Taliban's much-vaunted spring offensive has stalled apparently due to lack of organisation after dozens of middle-ranking commanders were killed by British troops in the past year, according to military sources. The death last week of the key Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah at the hands of American special forces has harmed the Taliban's morale to the point that local commanders are having to tell their troops to "remain professional" despite the loss. After suffering more than 1,000 dead in battles with the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines in the last year, the Taliban retired to regroup and re-equip last winter. A spring offensive was ordered by the Taliban leadership based in Quetta, Pakistan, and was meant to be launched in late March. But a lack of mid-level commanders has meant that there has been little co-ordination to bring about the offensive. "They are getting strategic guidance from Quetta but this is not translating on the ground," a military source said. "It's a bit premature to discuss the Taliban as a spent force. I believe that they are struggling but still maintain a capability to carry out attacks on a daily basis. But I would suggest in the long term the Taliban may just peter out."

Now doesn't this jibe with the argument I advanced with two posts in the last year on the subject of increased violence resulting from an ISAF offensive rather than a resurgent Taliban? Why is no one reporting that the ISAF (read: British, American and Dutch) efforts have been successful in decapitating the Taliban and apparently degrading 10% of the fighters they claimed they were putting in the field? Wouldn't this be considered progress? Why haven't the major outlets reported the good news from Helmland?

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Tet too Far?

My initial reaction to Jules Crittenden at Pajamas Media was to ask myself that question. Then I re-read my own response to the Guardian story and wondered just how much of a difference there was.

From Jules:

The plan was revealed recently by a blabbermouth rep who promptly stuck her foot in it. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) a founding member of the House Out of Iraq Caucus, said she expects there will be even more pressure to withdraw troops in two months if events in Iraq continue on their current violent course. “In two months it might be really clear how bad it is,” Woolsey said.

As the Democrats now fall back, their assault utterly routed, it becomes clearer what their strategy will be. It will be a variation on a Russian scorched-earth strategy. The Democrats now desperately need George Bush’s surge and the efforts of American soldiers on the ground to fail in the long Iraqi summer. Only they don’t intend to personally torch anything. The Democrats expect others to do their dirty work for them.

Enter the Democrats’ strongest ally in the region: Iran. Next week, the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq will be sitting down to discuss the stability and security of Iraq. We don’t know what they will say to each other, what subtle message will be conveyed under the diplomatic niceties. Intelligence leaks have signalled with incredibly poor timing that the United States does not intend to take forceful action against Iran. This comes with the news that Iran has plans of its own. Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which recently laid out evidence of Iranian meddling in Basra, weighs in this week with a report that U.S. officials believe Iran is coordinating with al-Qaeda in Iraq, other Sunni insurgent groups, and Shiite militias for a big summer offensive. Not terribly hard to believe, as it would only be an escalation of what Iran has been suspected of doing for some time. Playing both sides against the middle.

In short, Iran’s goal this summer is to shed enough blood and create enough chaos in Iraq to undermine any confidence in the surge and tip the balance in a wavering Congress.Iran wants a Tet. So do the Democrats.

Ouch. Too far I wondered...but then again, I was at least as un-charitable in my own assessment if less verbose: I for one have no trouble believing that the American Left--inside or outside of Congress--are tools enough to gladly give them what they want.

Un-charitable and un-kind. Yeah, but they've pretty much earned it with 3 years of incessant criticism, warranted or not (and there has been plenty of the former which makes me wonder why they've invested so much time and effort in the latter) that they find themselves too invested in failure.

Unfortunately, we'll all suffer for it if they get their way.

Not in my Job Description

How many sales guys does it take to prep 13 boxes on the shipping dock?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wedded to Failure

The Left, that is. It reminds me of the darkest days of ESPN. Blech...

Glenn Greenwald's post criticizing Joe Klein's Time piece oozes condescending crap all over your monitor so be careful as you read.

After taking a merciless rain of crap from Greenwald's legion, Klein fires back with a simple, obvious and telling question:

Finally, I find it amusing that some doubt the military source who told me the good news in Anbar province but don't question the sources who told me about the growing pessimism about the Shi'ites ever putting together a viable government...Why does good news about Iraq, however modest--and this was truly a modest, if intriguing, development--trouble you? Isn't it about time that the suffering Sunnis of Anbar Province had a little good news? (And the fragility of the good news is emphasized by a terrible bombing in Falluja today.)

In fact, my good news about progress against Al Qaeda was bad news for the White House: it came the same day that Bush was speaking at the Coast Guard Academy warning about the dire threat from Al Qaeda in Iraq in his usual hyperbolic way.

They're too heavily invested--emotionally and politically--in defeat. They've known all along what a disaster this all would be and of course anything small or large that flows against that narrative is threatening.

Oddity of the Day

The snakes are everywhere:

Altana Inc., a member of the Nycomed group, announces the start of the summer season with a warning that the 2007 snakebite season is already a busy one. The frequency of snakebites increases during the summer holidays because that is the time that snakes and people are most active. The number of bites in any given season depends on a variety of factors including geography, rainfall and temperature. Many experts believe that increasing development (for living and recreation) into natural snake habitats is a significant factor in the increased number of bites.

"We've treated a lot of snakebites and it is still early in the season," said Dr. Sean Bush, Staff Emergency Physician & Envenomation Specialist, Loma Linda University Medical Center. "Depending on where you are in the U.S., warm weather patterns mean more snakes are out in search of food and water. Also, many of our housing developments coincide with snake habitats, and excursions into snake territory mean more people are at risk for snakebite." Roughly 8,000 venomous snakebites occur in the U.S. each year. About a dozen fatalities are reported annually.
Recent media reports across the U.S. indicate an increase in the frequency of reported snake activity. The Scottsdale, Arizona Fire Department has reported 411 snake removal calls since April 1, up from the 353 calls fielded last spring during the same timeframe. Professional snake wrangler Bo Slyapich in Los Angeles has logged three times the usual number of emergency calls so far this season.

"With the increase in reported snake activity and the advent of warmer climatic conditions, we may be witnessing the start of a very busy snakebite season...."

Yes, everywhere!

More Cotton Candy

This review of Ocean's Thirteen reminds me of my blurb about it's immdiate predecessor:

...I'm left with a similar feeling to the one I had after first viewing Oceans Twelve; somehow, I've partaken of the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy. Devilishly good in-the-moment but leaving nothing to show for it afterwards.

Sounds awful familiar:

As smooth as a good mojito, as stylish as an Armani suit and as meaningful in the grand scheme of things as yesterday's Las Vegas betting odds, "Ocean's Thirteen" continues the breezy good times of the first two series entries without missing a beat.

"We will be United with the President throughout this War on Terrorism"

--John Edwards, Weasel

Daddy's a Dummy

What I thought was yesterday, was actually today. How'd I manage to screw that up!?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

These People are Stupid

Last week they were absurd. With this, they've moved beyond all ridiculousness and stripped away any pretense of smarts.

They're just plain stupid:

Decrying near-record high gasoline prices, the House voted Tuesday to allow the government to sue OPEC over oil production quotas.

The White House objected, saying that might disrupt supplies and lead to even higher costs at the pump. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is the cartel that accounts for 40 percent of the world's oil production.

"We don't have to stand by and watch OPEC dictate the price of gas," Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., the bill's chief sponsor, declared, reflecting the frustration lawmakers have felt over their inability to address people's worries about high summer fuel costs.

The measure passed 345-72. A similar bill awaits action in the Senate.

John Conyers chairs the important House Judiciary Committee and is also apparently Chief House Dummy. How is it that a man with a Juris Doctorate can seriously think this is a good idea. On any front, real or theatrical?!

Don't get me started of course on the whole discussion of the man's lack of economic understanding: Nevertheless, the House felt it was important to take on OPEC, the major player in oil production. Member states of OPEC late last year cut production by 1.1 million barrels a day to counter what had been a buildup of world oil stocks.

Conyers accused the OPEC engaging in a "price fixing conspiracy" that has "unfairly driven up the price" of crude oil and, in turn gasoline.

His measure would change antitrust laws so that the Justice Department can sue OPEC member countries for price-fixing, and would remove the immunity given a sovereign state against such lawsuits.

Did I say stupid? I meant idiotic...

Defeating the Purpose

Via Instapundit, this ABC report:

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

Glenn is right...probably a better idea about 3-4 years ago. Tom is even more right...what would be even better is if State, the Pentagon and/or CIA kept it's freakin' mouth shut about it.

For cryin' out loud...

Happy Birthday to Me!

More Scenes from the Mini-Vacation

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Change in the Wind?

Victor Davis Hanson wonders--for the second time in a week or so--about Europe.

Tet all over again?

Yesterday's headline from the Guardian UK: Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq.

From the body of the piece:

Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.

"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government]."

The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran's Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. "We expect that al-Qaida and Iran will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus's report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush's controversial, six-month security "surge" of 30,000 troop reinforcements]," the official said.

I for one have no trouble believing that the American Left--inside or outside of Congress--are tools enough to gladly give them what they want.

Scenes from the Mini-Vacation

Morro Rock at sunset from the Hotel parking lot.

Speaking Truth to Nonsense

Jeff Goldstein talks to Jimmy Carter and the rest of the "dissent is patriotism" crowd. Well, more like talking at than to:

At some point, a faction of our country decided that dissent, as an end in itself, is to be celebrated and rewarded—that the “bravery” it takes to heckle the Establishment is somehow the pinnacle of patriotism. And at one point, maybe it was—if you happened to be of the wrong race or color, or you weren’t packing the right reproductive equipment.

But times, they have-a-changed, and here’s a truth that we generally dare not speak: dissent in this country is easy. And—when done almost by rote—it is a sign of the worst kind of intellectual laziness, not to mention the rather transparent desire to bank some “revolutionary” street cred. It is, in short, no more a necessary measure of one’s morality to take an adversarial stance than it is to take a stance that agrees with the Establishment.

Because what is important is not that you stand a certain way, but why.

Read all of it. Jeff pretty much nails it and on a number of fronts.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Just in time for Sunday

And all the talking heads:

7 U.S. soldiers killed in separate Iraq attacks

Bombings killed seven U.S. soldiers in Baghdad and a southern city, the U.S. military said Sunday, and the country’s Sunni vice president spoke out against a proposed oil law, clouding the future of a key benchmark for assuring continued U.S. support for the government.

Six of the soldiers were killed Saturday in a bombing in western Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Their interpreter was also killed.

I've been noticing this all year. Seems every week as I sit down to watch my favorite talking heads, the headlines reflect some horrible sounding attack on Iraqi citizens or American soldiers.

Just in time for all of America to wake and learn about it over their cup of coffee. But I've not heard anybody discuss it in terms of a pattern or even strategy which leaves me wondering if it's just me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Sounds of Silence

Iraqi style:

Am still in Anbar and just went another day without hearing a single shot fired. Am out with a small group of Marines who live with a much larger group of Iraqis. I enjoy the Iraqi food more than the food at the dining facilities. Some of the Marines out here live in shipping containers. Their "toilet" is WAG bag. (Waste Alleviation and Gelling.) It's every bit as exciting as it sounds. Basically it's a little ziplock baggie -- one-time use only.

I was told that a chemical munition (artillery shell) was found within the last few days.
Today, went on a patrol with Iraqis and a couple of Marines and we talked with Iraqi villagers for a couple of hours. I got to talk with a man who was about 81. His hearing was not good, so I had to sit close. He said he worked for the British RAF here in about 1945-46. I asked him if the British treated him well and he said they treated him very well. Said he made the equivalent of about 25 cents per day but that was good money back then. There is, in fact, a British-Polish-Indian-Aussie-Kiwi cemetery nearby. (I visited and photographed many of the headstones some days ago.)

All the villagers we got to talk with were very friendly. Kids wanted their photos taken, that sort of thing. They were not asking for candy and that was nice. There was a train track nearby (looked to be in very good condition), and a locomotive turned over on its side, derailed. I asked a man what happened, and he said that about four years ago, during the war, an "Ali Baba" (thief) tried to steal the train but ran head-on into another train! He said the police caught the Ali Baba and he has no idea what happened after that.

Marines are getting along well with the locals. They wave a lot, and stop to talk. If the rest of Iraq looked like this, we could all come home!

Carter should stop speaking

I mean really:

Former President Carter says President Bush's administration is "the worst in history" in international relations, taking aim at the White House's policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.

The criticism from Carter, which a biographer says is unprecedented for the 39th president, also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's "quite disturbing" faith-based initiative funding.

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Saturday editions. "The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."

Unreal as it comes from the man whose policies mid-wifed the modern Iranian theocracy.

Anti-war Clown of the Day

Jesse Macbeth goes to jail:

A man who tried to position himself as a leader of the anti-war movement by claiming to have participated in war crimes while serving in Iraq is facing federal charges of falsifying his record.

Jesse Adam Macbeth, 23, formerly of Phoenix, garnered attention on blogs and in some alternative media after he began claiming in 2005 to have been awarded a Purple Heart for his service, which he said included slaughtering innocents in a Fallujah mosque.

His story was contradicted by his discharge form, showing that he was kicked out of the Army after six weeks at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2003 because of his “entry level performance and conduct.”

A complaint unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle charged him with one count of using or possessing a forged or altered military discharge certificate, and one count of making false statements in seeking benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Apparently I'm prescient. Of this I wrote: Read the comments at SMASH's blog, the milblog forum and some of the others covering this, and you get a sense that many folks are hoping that Jesse goes to jail for this little charade. I haven't seen anything that definitively states that he can be prosecuted for this, and even if he could I wonder if that's the wisest course.

Perhaps it's better to simply let his lack of credibility and the avalanche of spew it's creating among his fellow travelers serve as punishment enough.

Did I say prescient? I meant wrong.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Obligatory Iraq Post

Interesting stories from the ground:

Is there hope for Baghdad? Yes. The additional U.S. forces from the surge are already showing limited signs of success. They are not the signs quantified by London or D.C. think tanks.

Every Battalion Commander I talked with gave me the same metrics to measure success--Commerce, people returning to their homes, essential services, kids playing soccer in fields they haven't played on in 2 years, professionalization of the police and security services.

Those are things that do not fit well in an index and things a person can only see on the ground by going back to the same areas of operation every few months.

Which is why I will be back in Dora and West Rasheed in a few months.


I cannot believe my eyes and ears in Anbar. Very quiet where I am. Did a foot patrol today with Iraqi Army and a couple of Marines. Local population was friendly. Have not heard a shot fired in anger in days. (Whereas before the sounds of war were nearly always in the air.)

I didn't check the NY Times this morning but were I a betting man, I'd guess such assessments were nowhere to be found anywhere in it's pages.

Schrute Bucks

"For every good thing you do, you will receive one Schrute Buck."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Planning: Then and Now

Glenn said they were for it before they were against it. That works:

One of the Democrats' frequent talking points about Iraq is that the administration failed to plan the mission there adequately. It is ironic, then, that nearly all of the Democrats in the House of Representatives have voted to bar the administration from planning for the contingency of hostilities with Iran. The Hill reports:

An amendment to the defense authorization bill, introduced by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), a member of the armed services panel, failed Wednesday night by a vote of 216-202 with six Republicans voting in favor of the amendment together with 196 Democrats.

Andrews’ amendment, which had strong support from House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), would have prevented funds authorized in the bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from being used to plan a contingency operation in Iran.

In former times, a motto of many liberals was "No enemies on the Left." Today, the Democrats' mantra seems to be, "No enemies anywhere except the White House."

Just when you think the absurdity of it all can't possibly become any more absurd than it already is, Congress steps-up and hits it out of the park.

Just remember, this is what you voted for America.

War for Oil

Our War for Oil worked out well:

The first crude oil pumped by a foreign company in Iraq in decades will flow into the global market next month.

DNO, a Norwegian oil company, will announce on Wednesday that it will begin producing a small amount of oil from the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan, marking a symbolic return of foreign companies to Iraq after 35 years of state control.

The company’s experience is being closely watched by larger competitors, eager for a slice of the world’s third-largest oil reserves, but deterred by security fears and the lack of a legal framework for Iraqi oil.

But DNO’s announcement could add strain to relations between Iraq’s Kurdish authorities and the central government in Baghdad. DNO’s contract is with the local administration in the relatively peaceful north of Iraq, rather than with Baghdad.

The sharing of oil resources has been a point of dispute between Iraq’s sectarian communities. The Kurdish authorities’ decision to sign separate contracts, which could bring them a direct income source and consolidate their power, has provoked fears of a break-up of Iraq.

DNO’s contract may have to be amended once the country’s hydrocarbons law is finally agreed. Passage of the law – which is critical to attracting foreign investment – through the Iraqi parliament has stalled over control of individual oil fields.

Talk about incompetent...not only can Bush not win his staged war, he can't get his oil buddies the hefty contracts they so greedily covet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why Andrew Sullivan is irrelevant

Not only is he no longer conservative, he doesn't understand conservatives anymore:

The conservative pundits are now referring to Ron Paul as a "crackpot." Hannity predictably savaged him last night (see above). The Hewitt site has an image of a man in a tin-foil hat; Dean Barnett and Hugh Hewitt both call for removing Paul from the debates, when he has been the best thing about them so far. Bill Benett wants him out. I'm getting the usual ridicule for taking him seriously from the usual GOP apparatchiks. They're scared, aren't they? The Internet polls show real support for him.

No doubt, millions of conservatives went to bed terrified by the spectre of Ron Paul's truthiness.


Reviews and summaries of last night's Republican debate are everywhere. Highlights can be found here, here and here.

If nothing else, it appears that after last night there will be one-less candidate on the stage next time. Or at least there ought to be.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

When is irony ironic?

When the most hated man in America is more popular than his detractors. It's all relative of course but no less funny for it.

Below Average

Yep, that's me:

Your estimated greenhouse gas emissions are 36 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, which is below the national average in the US.

I have no idea how this works or what the calculations are or aren't based on but apparently I'm somewhat eco-friendly. Unlike the critter that's been tearing up our back-yard recently...


Republicans gather again tonight in South Carolina for debate number two. We're forced to watch all 10 announced candidates jostling each other on-stage all night but an obvious up-side is that questions will come from Brit Hume as opposed to the likes of Chris Matthews.

Chin's crew at Heading Right will have lots of stuff after the dust settles.

Surplus charisma

Glenn Reynolds pretty much hits a home-run with that observation about this world-stopping report:

There has been a lot of comment on Chuck Hagel's appearance yesterday on Face the Nation. Hagel said he is interested in making a third-party run for President, likely paired with Mayor Mike Bloomberg:

It's a great country to think about - a New York boy and a Nebraska boy to be teamed up leading this nation.

Hagel attributed his interest in a third-party run to the claim that the Republican Parth[sic] has been "hijacked."

Speaking of observations, John Hinderacker rightly points out the incoherence of the Hagel 'hijacked' claim: his characterization of the supposed "hijacking" was incoherent: It's been hijacked by a group of single-minded almost isolationists, insulationists, power-projectors.

"Isolationist power-projectors?" That's a previously unknown species; maybe it means something similar to "neocons."

And the Parade of Absurdity in DC continues...Run Chuck, Run!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Shocked, shocked I say!

I am shocked to learn that Barry Bonds has been cheating:

Would that Barry Bonds had retired after the 1998 season. He might be happier than he seems to be in his long trudge toward tainted glory. Certainly everyone who cares about baseball, and about the integrity of athletic competition generally, would be spared the disturbing spectacle of his unlovely approach to Henry Aaron's career record of 755 home runs.

The numbers Bonds had put up before the 1999 season were luminous enough to have guaranteed him first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame. He had 411 home runs, 445 stolen bases—he is now the only "500-500" player in history—eight All-Star selections and eight Gold Glove awards. He had won three MVP awards and should have won a fourth that was given to a lesser, but less obnoxious, player.

Since 1998, his gaudy numbers have earned him four more MVP awards. From his 1986 rookie season through 1998, he averaged a home run every 16.1 at-bats (Babe Ruth averaged one every 11.8 at-bats), and his season high was 46. Since 1999, when he turned 35, an age by which most players are past their peak production, he has averaged one every 8.9 at-bats, and in the 2001 season he hit 73. If Bonds, even as he aged, had continued to average one home run every 16.1 at-bats, he would have entered this season at age 42 with 590 home runs, not 734, and Aaron's record would have been beyond his reach.

Equally startling are these numbers: According to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, the San Francisco Chronicle reporters who wrote "Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports," Mike Murphy, equipment manager of the San Francisco Giants, testified that since Bonds became a Giant in 1993, the size of his uniform jersey has gone from 42 to 52. His cap size has expanded from 7 1/8 to 7 1/4, even though while it was expanding he shaved his head. (Bonds reportedly shaved his head because his hair was falling out as a result of steroid use.) And Fainaru-Wada and Williams also say Murphy testified that Bonds's baseball shoe size has changed from 10½ to 13.

And still the apologists will say there is no actual proof. Technically of course, they will be right. There is no 'smoking gun' that proves finally, once and for all, that Barroid is a user.

These revelations from Murphy who has outfitted Bonds before games arguably thousands of times corroborate nicely what our own eyes have told us for more than a few years. So we're left to wonder, how much proof will Barry's dead-enders require?

Who will you believe? Barry and his compelling statements about not knowing what was in the cream his trainer rubbed him down with all the time or your own lying eyes?

Or will Bonds in the hospital with a failing liver one day finally prove to be the smoking gun?

It's still the Refining Capacity, stupid!

About time somebody said Shell President John Hofmeister make what amounts to a full-throated defense of the biz in this morning's Today Show interview. Or read about it here.

In a nutshell? It's still the refining capacity, stupid.

My personal favorite is the calling-out of the Government for it's unfriendly public-policy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Minimal Involvement

On the day before Mother's Day that means a half-day already in the can before 11 AM and an out-of-town Wedding delivery.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Walmart is what it is

Jim Cramer reviewed the current retails sales figures this morning on Today and in the course of that discussion makes an interesting comment about Walmart. You can find similar sentiments here and here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


How'd that happen?


What happens when one poster says the media narrative on Iraq isn't balanced and two other posters reply.

You voted for it...

And now you got it:

Today the House of Representatives will debate whether global warming is so serious a threat to American national security that the director of National Intelligence, normally busy with issues like al Qaeda, Iranian nuclear research, and North Korean missiles, should be ordered to put aside other projects to create a special National Intelligence Estimate on climate change. So far, majority Democrats have pushed the proposal through the House Intelligence Committee — on a party-line vote — and there is a good chance it will become part of the final intelligence authorization bill passed by Congress.

These people are absurd.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Middle-class Tax Cut Canard

Are middle-class tax cuts worthwhile? No, yes...maybe? Larry Kudlow looks at the House Democrats' budget resolution:

The House passed a budget resolution yesterday that leaves out investor tax-cut extensions for capital gains and dividends. While it does include extension of the kiddy credits and the marriage deduction, it’s actually the investment tax cuts that deliver the real economic growth impact by reducing the tax rate on the extra dollar earned from the sale of assets or the receipt of dividends.

Ironically, the latest budget report clearly shows that these investor tax-cuts have paid for themselves. Remember, non-withheld income taxes hit a record high on April 24th at $48.7 billion dollars. So far this year, this tax collection category has shot up 30 percent. By the way, income tax collections at lower tax rates have jumped by 17.5 percent.

Democrats and the official Washington scorekeepers never acknowledge the Laffer Curve that shows lower tax rates lead to higher tax revenues through a growing economy and larger income base.

What the Dems have done in their budget resolution is to endorse the least growth-sensitive tax cuts and to eliminate the tax-cuts that possess the largest growth impact.

By the way, with congressional Dems once again vowing to end “tax cuts for the rich” and the same tired message coming from the Democratic presidential hopefuls—Hillary, Obama, Edwards—the party is crafting a losing election year tax message. Tax cuts for the rich have never worked in presidential elections. (Just ask Mike Dukakis, Walter Mondale, or Jimmy Carter. Or ask Al Gore if you can find him.)

Don't get me a Married-Filing-Jointly, I love the marriage deduction and even if we reverted to the pre-2001 "marriage penalty," my wife and I will still file as such every year. But numbers don't lie.

Revenue gains as a result of the reduced rates on capital gains and dividends have eclipsed us poor middle-class schlubs and that's just a simple reflection of the obvious: the money is with the rich. While the top rates were not nearly so high in 2001 as they were 20 years earlier, there was still a significant amount of money in the economy locked up, doing nothing for anybody.

Democrats could do worse than to leave the marriage deduction and child tax-credits alone, the fact that they can't get past their populist inclinations to leave in-place investor-friendly tax policies demonstrates, yet again, that they don't get it.

Rather odd for a party that last captured the White House by telling us repeatedly how "It's the economy, stupid."

Where do I sign up?

Are blogs coming of age? How do you know? I'm not sure I do but this has to mean something:

A Potomac-based publishing company has created the first trade magazine devoted to the blogging and podcasting media communities.

The inaugural issues of Lastan Publishing Inc.’s Blogger & Podcaster appeared last week. It is the first time, publisher Larry Genkin believes, that a publication launched simultaneously in three formats with different content — the magazine has print, online and podcast editions.
Genkin said he hopes to capitalize on an audience of 62 million bloggers and more than 80,000 podcasters, particularly those heavily entrenched in the industry.

“These are not teenage girls jotting about their boyfriends; they have serious objectives, and in the magazine they will find advice on how to make their endeavors successful,” Genkin said.

Lectured by Congressional Ignorance

Senator Gordon Smith, ostensibly Republican from Oregon, discusses support for the war on Today this morning. Sounding more like Harry Reid, Smith spouted the Majority Leader's ridiculous line about "political solutions."

Pay particularly close attention to his comments about General Petraeus' September report to Congress:

"...they believe that General Petraeus spoke the truth when he came to Congress and that is that he would speak to us straight in September and he would tell us whether the Surge was working. He also spoke the truth when he said that there is not a military solution in Iraq...there is only a political solution and that is the duty of the Iraqi government.

And as we speak, as our kids are still fighting and dying, their preparing to go on vacation without even passing an oil revenue sharing law."


As the Democrats themselves squawked for nearly two years, nothing can improve in Iraq without increased security. Congress' precious 'political' solution will only come as a result of Petraeus' strategy, yet they continue wilfully ignore that point.

And perhaps Smith could have enlightened us--assuming David Gregory could have thought to ask the question--what exactly it is Congress has been doing for the last 3 weeks since passing the dead-end Iraq supplemental package? And he has the nerve to attack the Iraqi parliament when he and his comrades have hung US troops--who indeed are "fighting and dying"--without necessary funding.

I for one won't be lectured by such men as this.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Straight out of bad 70's TV

It had everything...girls, high-speed chases and a fiery car crash:

Santa Barbara police are investigating what led a 19-year-old man to kidnap his former girlfriend in Salt Lake City and take her to his home in Santa Ynez before going on a crime spree through two counties - which included a high-speed chase that ended in a fiery crash in Lompoc.

Jose's quite the guy, as you'll discover reading on.

Lost: Dead or not-Dead?

Now that it's out in the open, I figured I'd take a stab at a brief discussion about Lost and the all-consuming question of what happened to Oceanic 815 and where exactly are the fortunate survivors. Now that Locke's father has let the cat out of the bag, seems like a fair question.

--How else does John Locke get up and walk after 4 years in a wheelchair after getting thrown out an 8-story window?
--How else does the plane of Eko's brother find it's way to a tropical island after filing a flight plan that originated in Nigeria?
--How does Jack catch glimpses of his dead father on a tropical island, the same way Locke confronts his supposedly dead Dad?
--Why couldn't Desmond sail away from the island, to escape completely this strange place?
--We watched Mikhail die just a few weeks ago. How is it he was alive enough to administer first-aid to Desmond's would-be parachuting rescuer?

--It doesn't adequately explain the Others. Why are they there? What purpose do they serve?
--If Desmond couldn't get away, how did Michael and Walt manage it?

It made me mad

As part of a discussion last week about the ill-fated and short-lived (thank God!) decision to kill Army milblogging, these comments about the effect of milblogging made me angry. From the interview:

HH: Yup. What about the impact on understanding the war? I keep coming back to the fact, I linked earlier today to the Lawrence Wright Terror Web piece from the New Yorker a few years ago, on how the jihadists have this mastered. They pump information propaganda, and their view of the world, into the internet, 24/7, from a thousand portals. A lot of civilians try and put stuff up there, but the guys who know and the gals who know what’s going on are in uniform, and have seen the enemy face to face. It doesn’t compare. And there’s only one Michael Yon, there’s only one Bill Roggio. If we don’t have the milbloggers writing this stuff, it doesn’t get to us, because John Burns is about the only guy who leaves the Green Zone.

MB: Pretty much. That’s pretty accurate. And I would add probably Arwa Damon’s probably one of the most well-regarded reporters, and she happens to work for a network I don’t really care for. But CNN…

HH: Yeah, there are others. That’s hyperbole. There’s ten or fifteen, but…

MB: But right, but there’s…maybe. Maybe there’s ten. And absolutely, I agree, but also, they’re not giving the first-hand experience. You know, Burns is going to try to balance the article out, he’s going to try to say what else is going on, and how it affects Iraqis, which is important. But another facet of that is really what’s the soldier’s opinion. The other aspect of this, the part that really irks me, is the fact that a lot of the keeping the media honest pieces will be missing. So for instance, I happen to know in Anbar, because I have friends in Anbar, and you do, too, you just don’t know that right now, Hugh, and I could tell you about that off-air.

HH: Actually, I do know one Colonel Don in Ramadi, but I hope there are others.

MB: Well, you’ve had some guests on that I know of that are in the fight right now.

HH: Oh, cool.

MB: And they’re telling me that we own al Qaeda in the west, and that we have effectively shut them down, that the Iraqi politicians can’t wait for the elections, that they are working with us. And these are staff sergeants, sergeants first class. These are not full bird colonels, these are not careerists. These are the kind of people we need to be hearing from. And this is where the ground truth comes from. This is not, you know, and these are e-mails, these are posts, all this stuff, will be lost if this regulation gets enforced.

Have you seen this anywhere? I certainly have not.

Big Media has abdicated it's responsibilities in regards to telling the story of Iraq. They refuse, on the whole, to print or broadcast anything that doesn't include car bombs, dead Iraqis or dead Americans.

To their shame.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Answers, answers...we want answers!

Lost has been on a roll of late. Well, with this announcement the cat is out of the bag. All that's left is for the fat lady to start singing. And sing she will:

The end is in sight for ABC's acclaimed island mystery "Lost," but fans will have to wait until 2010 for all the answers.

In a highly unusual move, the network announces plans today to end the show after three more shortened seasons of 16 episodes each. The episodes will air consecutively, repeat-free, from February to May.

ABC's bold step marks a response to the show's producers, who have been eager to set a finish line to better plot out their convoluted mystery of plane-crash survivors and to placate fans who are frustrated that the show seemed to be vamping its way to a conclusion.

Chuck Hagel: Step 2

First there was this. And now this:

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said he would consider entering the 2008 presidential campaign as an independent. An independent bid "is possible,'' Hagel, 60, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt,'' scheduled to air today. "I don't ever foreclose any options.''

He will decide in the next few months whether to run for a third Senate term, pursue the presidency or leave politics altogether, he said.

Dean Barnett presumes that should such a thing happen it likely has no effect on the GOP candidate in a general election. While likely correct in his analysis, I would offer another reason for the Hagel "no-effect" effect.

A Hagel run as an Independent would more likely resemble this as opposed to this:

In the 1992 election, he received 18.9% of the popular vote (but no electoral votes), making him the most successful Independent presidential candidate in terms of the popular vote since Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election.

To understand why, go back to the first link, read and learn.

James Lileks and the Star-Tribune

Stupid is as stupid does:

As it happens, they've killed my column, and assigned me to write straight local news stories.


There is no dearth of reaction in the on-line world. Some are gleeful, others are not. Most are incredulous.

Three months after I started at the Times, we let our popular local columnist, Steve Corbett go. The explanation was simple and obvious; he was the highest-priced member of the editorial staff and the paper needed to trim costs.

We'd scrimped as much as was possible on paper, binder clips and manila folders. The next step was logically the re-organization of personnel.

In James' case it's not so clear as that. Or is it?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

While we're on the subject...

Al-Qaeda isn't all it's cracked up to be it seems. At least in this one man's opinion:

What would you call a campaign that after 4 years had achieved only 1% of its goal — despite throwing everything it has into that effort?

Incompetent? A failure? Ridiculous.

I’d call it al-Qaeda.

ABC News has a new tape from Ayman al-Zawahiri: “Al Qaeda No. 2 Wants 200,000-300,000 U.S. Dead in Iraq

Really? 300,000 U.S. dead.

After 4 years, the casualty list shows 3,300 American dead.

At this rate, al-Qaeda will meet its goal of 200,000 in about 2353. I’ll be 400 years old then.
Zawahari said he opposes the timetable for a U.S. surrender: ”This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap.”

By all means, let us not disappoint this cold-blooded killer.

Iraq is now the center of the war on terrorism. Bush said it. Zawahari said it. His words — bluster, really — tell any logical person why we must stay.

You can lead the horse to water but you can't always make it drink...

Nice PR strategy

It can't be good for Democrats when Ayman Al-Zawahiri is repeating their rhetoric. Or can it?

In any reasonable world, this man's repeating of Democrats' ridiculous war rhetoric would go beyond politically embarassing.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why do I always get the Crazy ones?

Comments are the measuring stick by which most successful blogs are judged as such. Well, that and daily traffic. As owner & proprietor of this fine site I must profess that I have mixed feelings about our little unknown, oft-unvisited corner of the Internet.

On the one-hand it makes me frustrated beyond words that where there was once a plan and effort in place to slowly build traffic and readership that has seen time become private enemy #1 over the last year and a half and left our offerings unread in numbers that rival our first couple months of existence. On the other hand, simply because I have no time to devote to the blog, I also have no time to care.

Of late though I'd noticed a small flurry of activity. Visits up slightly and the occasional comment(s). Turning a corner? Wishful thinking I know but I have allowed the thought to stick around for more than a few minutes at a time.

So this morning when I noticed that we'd had a visitor leave comment about this post on Iraq arguments, I was intrigued. Perhaps a discussion in the making?

Or maybe not.

Our visitor, signing with an obvious alias essentially linked his own blog-post as comment to mine. Well, okay. I'm game...maybe it'll be interesting.

Or maybe I'd rather stick a hot poker in my eye. First off, we get a hot-link to pretty much every scholarly, lay and everything-in-between analysis of the PNAC which of course transitions seamlessly into a discussion of what W knew and how the Neo-conservative uber-menchen installed him as President and quickly facilitated the false-flag op known as 9/11.

The further you read the more your head hurts and I was not spared the same. Our good friend is a loon.

There is no other word for it. The combination of conspiracy theory and new-agey spiritualism stupefies.

Sadly, at the end of the day he's just another one of these guys.

Ha Ha

Warriors make history by ousting Mavs.

It's as funny now as it was when it happened to George Karl and the Sonics.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Argument that should have been made

Mario Loyola at NRO makes the argument that the Bush Administration did not:

Intel is by its nature fragmentary and inferential. The evidence we needed in Iraq was on the ground in Iraq, and Saddam controlled all of it. When Tenet said the case for war was a “slam dunk” he was jumping the barrier that should separate intel and policy. The intel was ambiguous. Intel is always ambiguous, especially when the question is as vast as that posed by Iraq. Because the presumption was already against Saddam — and rightly so — the intel community’s ambiguous answer left Cheney and many other people with no doubt that Saddam had WMDs — as a policy judgment based on history and the totality of the circumstances, of which intel was only a part.

Policymakers do not have the luxury of coming to no firm conclusion simply because the intel comes to no firm conclusion. What has been consistently missing from this whole debate is an appreciation of the fact that, given Saddam’s history, we had to presume the worst. By 2002, the only thing that could assuage our fears about Saddam was transparency in his regime. Without transparency, we were facing a potential threat of unknown scope that — should it ever materialize — could cause much more damage than a punitive action would be able to remediate.

Earlier in the day I finally got around to listening to this conversation between Hugh Hewitt and Michael Isikoff from last week's LA Times Festival of Books. Ostensibly a discussion at least partly about Isikoff's collaborative work, Hubris, it devolved somewhat into an argument about pre-war intel for the sake of arguing pre-war intel.

Loyola's point about 'no firm conclusion' speaks directly to this Isikoff comment:

HH: That’s exactly what we knew about Zawahiri. It’s intelligence. We have to make guesses.

MI: And it was intelligence that was wrong. That’s the point. The point is that intelligence that was murky…

HH: Your spin, your spin…

MI: …that the intelligence that was murky was presented with certitude, and I think that’s ultimately the case against the selling of the war.

That argument wasn't convincing in 2004 and it isn't convincing now that Isikoff has teamed with David Corn to write a book about it. As Hugh states in reply:

HH: And I would argue that even on the mushroom cloud…

MI: Things that were very ambiguous were presented as we know…

HH: No, on the mushroom cloud…

MI: We know, we have learned.

HH: No, he said we cannot take the chance. That’s very different. Maybe it’s my lawyer’s training…

MI: Well, I think…

HH: …that you have to do probabilities.

Mario is right and this point is usually missed in the routine fits of "Bush Lied, People Died" rage. Intelligence by it's nature is nothing more at it's most basic level than a best-guess.

9/11 changed the way the President viewed what Tenet and the CIA told him. Tenet's comments on this point are, in my opinion, about the only worth-while thing he's got to say on the issue and they bolster the President's view of Iraq in 2002.

The whole Iraq equation changed in light of 9/11. Should the Administration be blamed for that? Hardly.

This is news?

Go figure...a presidential candidate gets Secret Service protection.

Asleep at the Switch

How did Katrina let this through?:

Water covers 71 percent of Earth's surface. Compared with the atmosphere, there's 100 times more CO2 in the oceans, dissolved as carbonate. As the post-glacial thaw progresses the oceans warm up, and some of the dissolved carbon emits into the atmosphere, like fizz from soda. "The greenhouse global warming theory has it ass backwards," Hertzberg concludes. "It is the warming of the Earth that is causing the increase of carbon dioxide and not the reverse." In vivid confirmation of that conclusion, several new papers show that for the last 750,000 years, CO2 changes have always lagged behind global temperatures by 800 to 2,600 years.

It looks like Poseidon should go hunting for carbon credits. The human carbon footprint is of zero consequence amid these huge forces and volumes, not to mention the role of the giant reactor beneath our feet: the Earth's increasingly hot molten core.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

We Win, They Lose

I signed. You should too.

The Value of Bad Research

Is mostly comedic. Take this for example:

An academic study of NBA officiating found that white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players, The New York Times reported on its Web site Tuesday night.

The study by a University of Pennsylvania assistant professor and Cornell graduate student also found that black officials called fouls more frequently against white players than black, but noted that that tendency was not as pronounced.

It's the methodology though that really kills: The study, conducted over a 13-season span through 2004, found that the racial makeup of a three-man officiating crew affected calls by up to 4 1/2 percent.

The NBA strongly criticized the study, which was based on information from publicly available box scores, which show only the referees' names and contain no information about which official made a call.

Box scores. That was it. Box scores...

At the risk of being indelicate (putting it mildly), did the good academics stop to ponder the fact that NBA rosters are composed, overwhelmingly, of black players. One would think refs would tend to call more fouls on black players when in most games at any given time 8 of the 10 players on the floor are in fact black.

Kevin Hinch skewers this nonsense beautifully in a column here. On behalf of white-stiffs everywhere, I give you the key and closing quote:

One might question the motives of people who would set out in search of racism in a business where the vast majority of the highest-paid employees and 38 percent of the refs are black. I don't. I question their half-assed methodology, which doesn't even yield half-truths.
It says nothing. It proves nothing. It is nothing. Except, of course, a distraction from the real issue of race in America.

It is also incredibly lame.

And somewhere Joel Przybilla is pissed.

Like so many big white stiffs in the NBA, the 7-foot-1 space-eater spends much of his professional life in foul trouble. Now he's forced to ponder how much worse it would be if the white refs didn't have his back.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What's wrong with this country?

Happy Anniversary

As advertised, Democrats sent the Securing Defeat in Iraq Act of 2007 to the President earlier today and as promised the President slam-dunked it, straight into the can:

President George W. Bush on Tuesday defied the Democratic-controlled Congress by vetoing a war-spending bill that set a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Mr Bush had threatened for weeks to reject any legislation including withdrawal dates, which he argued would amount to an admission of defeat.

The Democrats waited for the four-year anniversary of the President's carrier-based "Mission Accomplished" speech in a display of political theatre. Instapundit reviews that component of today's drama in this post:

IT'S THE ANNIVERSARY OF BUSH'S "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" SPEECH, which has lots of lefties chortling.

Er, except that Harry Reid seems to agree, really, with the "end of major combat operations" that Bush was celebrating:

"The military mission has long since been accomplished. The failure has been political. It has been policy. It has been presidential," Reid said in excerpts of the speech released by his office.

At the time of the speech, of course, the complaint from many Democrats was that Bush was generating campaign-commercial footage out of a military triumph that belonged to all Americans, given the wide support for the war. Well, that story has changed, as the many, many Democrats who supported the war try to execute their pivot.

That said, I was one of the relatively few critics of the event back when it took place, and I strongly suspect that the Bush folks wish now that they hadn't done it. Well, live and learn.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey notes that people should pay more attention to what Bush actually said four years ago. Read the whole thing. And note what Hillary Clinton said!

Glenn's comment about the pivot is of course the key point in all of this foolishness.

One Less Terrorist

If this report is true, Al-Zarqawi's replacement as head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq may be dead at the hands of Sunni's:

Iraqi officials have received reports that the leader of al-Qaida in
Iraq was killed by Sunni tribesmen, but the chief government spokesman said Tuesday the information has not been confirmed.

The statement by spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh followed a welter of reports from other Iraqi officials that Abu Ayyub al-Masri had been killed. Iraqi officials have released similar reports in the past, only to acknowledge later they were inaccurate.

U.S. officials said they could not confirm the reported death.

Al-Dabbagh told Al-Arabiya that word of al-Masri's purported death was based on "intelligence information," adding that "DNA tests should be done and we have to bring someone to identify the body."

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