Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Max Boot at Volokh Conspiracy

Max Boot is guest blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Discussing his new book War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today.

Yes, I already bought the book. Now I just need to find time to read it. I'm reading a couple of books at the moment, so I'll have to wait until one of them is done.

To say the least, I've over done the purchasing of books on insurgency, 4GW, guerrilla warfare, and terrorism in history. (I probably made some FBI watch list with the books I bought.)

Now to digest all this stuff.


Madras Bombing

I must admit that this is rather odd.

More than 15,000 armed Pakistani tribesmen protested on Tuesday over a Pakistan Army helicopter attack on an al-Qaeda-linked religious school that killed around 80 suspected militants.

Chants of "Down with America" and "Down with Musharraf" rang out as the tribesmen gathered in Khar, main town in the Bajaur tribal region close to the Afghan border, in anger at the air strike.

"Our jihad (holy war) will continue and Inshallah (God willing), people will go to Afghanistan to oust American and British forces," Maulana Faqir Mohammad, a pro-Taliban cleric, told the crowd of turbaned tribals, many carrying Kalashnikovs and wearing bandoliers, and a few shouldering rocket launchers.

While the government claimed the madrasa school at Chenagai was being used to train militants, protesters said the dead, mostly young men aged between 15 and 25, were merely students.

President Pervez Musharraf, speaking at a seminar in Islamabad, said the army had killed militants.


I understand that this is in an area with little central government control, but I'm not certain that this attack was going to stabilize anything. Musharraf has a fairly dangerous position as it is, but swatting your local hornets nest is probably not going to make it much safer.

How else could it have been handled? I'm not really sure. No doubt that all the Al-Qaeda linked people would have been long gone if they had just showed up with ground troops. But killing them all and letting Allah sort them out is a bit too much.


A Failure to Adapt and a Failure to Lead

Max Boot pointing out the failure of the US to utilize and adapt to the modern versions of warfare. He doesn't say it, but it definitely sounds like the analysis showing our countries inability to use 4GW with specific emphasis on information warfare.
The Information Revolution of the late 20th century upset the seemingly stable postwar order. The Soviet Union had no Silicon Valley and could not compete with the United States in incorporating the computer into its economic or military spheres. U.S. prowess at waging war in the Information Age was showcased in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which, along with the collapse of the Soviet empire, left the United States standing alone as a global hegemon.

But if history teaches any lesson, it is that no military lead is ever safe. Challengers will always find a way to copy or buy the best weapons systems or develop tactics that will offset their effect. Our most formidable enemies, Al Qaeda and its ilk, have done both. They are using relatively simple information technology — the Internet, satellite television, cellphones — to organize a global insurgency. By using such weapons as hijacked airliners and bombs detonated by garage-door openers, they are finding cracks in our defenses.

We have an insurmountable advantage in high-end military hardware. No other state is building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, stealth fighters or unmanned aerial vehicles. In fact, we spend more on the development and testing of new weapons — $71 billion this year — than any other country spends on its entire defense. But all that spending produces weapons systems that aren't much good for pacifying Baghdad or Kandahar.
Painfully true. I think it is even worse in many circumstances. One of the lessons from Vietnam shows in the present Iraq information war. The government doesn't know how to tell the people what is happening and why we need to succeed. The Bush administration has had especially hard times with getting the message out. They also have difficulties with timing. They seem only to go on the offensive when they need something politically. That obviously is the wrong tact.

Not that the MSM is of much assistance on this. Reporting tends to discount the US governments information for that of other less reliable sources without realizing that the government can be held liable for the accuracy of the information. Politics is pretty good at that. The MSM editorial voices are, in general, disdainful of any information from the sitting administration, irrespective of party. Bush Dementia Syndrome has only catalyzed that tendency.

The MSM also has been found doctoring, or using, distorted or fabricated news from people that should be considered the enemy. Falsified reports from Lebanon were so prevalent that it's almost disgusting that most of the public hardly even understand that many of the Israeli atrocities were exaggerations of minor military actions.

Politicos aren't any assistance either. There is too much benefit for the partisan screeching to be viewed as truth with no vetting of the facts. Take the WMD reasoning for Iraq. It was one of 23 reasons that the congress put together to justify the authorization to use military force. Now it's a reason to abandon Iraq to chaos with no real conclusion in stability. Many Democrats don't like Iraq and are angry about the WMD misinformation, but they don't think we should bail in the MurthMode. Look at Carl Levin if you need an example.

I'll just jump to the conclusion:
It may sound melodramatic, but the future of U.S. power rests on our ability to remake a government still structured for Industrial Age warfare to do battle with decentralized adversaries in the Information Age. After all, aren't we the mightiest, richest nation in history? How could our hegemony possibly be endangered? That's what previous superpowers thought too. But their dominance lasted only until they missed a revolutionary turn in military technology and tactics.
There is a drastic need for correction in the government. I think the military has started that refocus with Rumsfeld's work. Irrespective of what you think on his management of Iraq, he has begun the reshaping of the military to where it needs to go. He may be playing Sisyphus in his fight to make the military managers go the right direction or at least try to figure out what the right direction is. Unfortunately, the present military has been slow to adapt, thanks to nearly a decade of atrophy under Saint Bill. Too small, too focused on a large near peer conflict. If you can't give Rumsfeld credit at least for that, you probably should reconsider where we would be if Iraq hadn't happened.


Samhuinn

Here we are returning to the season of sacrifice. First demands of that which cannot be named for a little repast.

Now I just have to figure out how to bait the traps. Pumpkin smashing has been in vogue again this year since I see much devastation of people's yard displays. So a big pumpkin should do the trick. Bet it will be good for at least half a dozen teenagers.

That should do the trick.


John Kerry Supporting the Troops

Go read this over at Captain's Quarters. I'll pull out Kerry's quote.

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


Don't Criticize Big Brother

This at Homeland Stupidity. I have to say this is pretty outrageous, but this guy wasn't exactly the sharpest stick by providing a means to produce fake boarding passes. Schneier had a post on this and a link to Boing Boing on the topic. Soghoian's blog is here.
Exposing flaws in airport security by talking about them will get you watched closely by government agents. Hi, guys.

Creating a compelling demonstration of just how stupid the federal government is, though, will get you a less-than-friendly visit from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, followed by a predawn raid the next day.

Christopher Soghoian created the Northwest Airlines Boarding Pass Generator to demonstrate flaws in the government’s implementation of airport security and the so-called no-fly list. A few short days later, on Friday, FBI agents visited him and, as he told it, handed him a “written order” to take down the site, and unfortunately, he did.

Then the FBI agents kept a federal judge awake until two in the morning to get a search warrant (mirror) because Soghoian, in creating the site, supposedly engaged in “conspiracy to commit, or the commission of knowingly presenting a false and fictitious claim upon or against the United States, or any department or agency thereof,” according to the warrant.

I’m not even entirely sure what that means, or how this particular bit of security research qualifies as a federal crime. Earlier this week, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) had called for Soghoian to be arrested for putting up the site. Maybe he knows what it means. (Update: On Sunday morning, Rep. Markey rescinded his call for Soghoian to be arrested, and said that Homeland Security should hire him instead.)

Soghoian said he was shaken after the first FBI visit and spent the night elsewhere, and came home Saturday morning to find his door forced open, “a rather ransacked home, a search warrant taped to my kitchen table, a total absence of computers — and various other important things.”

It’s not that he’s trying to compromise airport security. It’s that he’s pointing out that airport security already is compromised, or, as his site used to read, “The TSA Emperor Has No Clothes.”

“Conspiracy to commit, or the commission of knowingly presenting a false and fictitious claim upon or against the United States, or any department or agency thereof,” sounds like a sedition act offense. Over-reaction? I'm guessing yes. Not that making a fake boarding pass could be exceptionally difficult. I find it amusing that they shut down his website. Surely they don't think that would stop anyone with the abilities or intention to falsify a rather poorly designed and weak security device.

Then there is one of our favorite Masshole Representatives screeching for the head of this guy. Markey did back off later, but as usual, he did it after making a complete ass of himself.
"The Bush administration must immediately act to investigate, apprehend those responsible, shut down the website, and warn airlines and aviation security officials to be on the look-out for fraudsters or terrorists trying to use fake boarding passes in an attempt to cheat their way through security and onto a plane," wrote Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, in a statement.

"There are enough loopholes at the backdoor of our passenger airplanes from not scanning cargo for bombs; we should not tolerate any new loopholes making it easier for terrorists to get into the front door of a plane," Markey wrote.

Aviation expert John Nance says Soghoian may have shed light on a gap in airport security, but it's not something he should be commended for.

"My knee-jerk reaction to this is extreme concern," he said. "There's a free speech issue of course, but this is under the same legal categorization as screaming fire in a crowded theater."

Nice that he has control of those knee-jerk over-reactions. Let's not mention that Schneier has been pointing out these flaws since 2003. But hey, let's all flip out if someone makes it obvious or easy. A security professional points out the flaws and no one listens for three years, then someone makes a program that actually does it and now it's a problem.

Personally I think Soghoian is a dope. He stepped in front of a bus with this one and will get nothing from it, except maybe a lot of time talking to public servants. He was effective in getting his message across, but then, I'm betting he's not so happy that he did it. He could have tried going to Markey or someone of his political ilk to get this some attention, but I'm uncertain that it would have gotten nearly as much attention.

Doesn't things like this make you feel so much safer when flying?



Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act Found Unconstitutional

No real surprise here. It was bound to have a challenge sooner or later. Now it's just a matter of seeing where it goes in higher court.
The city's lawsuit against gun makers and local dealers received a boost this week when a Lake County judge ruled a year-old federal law shielding gun makers from lawsuits is unconstitutional.

In a strongly worded opinion, Lake Superior Court Judge Robert A. Pete denied gun makers' request to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Gary seven years ago that alleges gun makers do little to control the flow of handguns used in crimes.

The federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed last year with backing from the gun industry in response to a wave of lawsuits similar to Gary's case, would deprive the city of its rights of due process, Pete said.

"Our Supreme Court has long recognized laws that are applied retroactively and ... serve as a deprivation of our existing rights are particularly unsuited to a democracy such as ours," Pete wrote.

Though gun makers are almost certain to appeal, city attorney Tony Walker said Pete's ruling should allow the city to begin requesting internal documents and records from the 16 gun makers named in the suit.

"We are moving into an aggressive litigation standpoint," said Walker, who is working on the case with help from the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Center.

"We want to start deposing (gun company) executives and getting to the heart of how guns get onto the streets of Gary."

Right. Denying one parties rights under the constitution for another's is widely recognized. Of course, the Bradey gun grabbers are pouring all the resources they can into this. Got to make sure to punish the gun manufacturers as much as possible in the courts before the legal issues are resolved.

So how much time will this take before resolution. Years?


Voice of Unreason for NH Eminent Domain Amendment

Here's a letter to the editor from my local communist rag the Nashua Telegraph. The author, Cordell Johnston, has a very slim argument as to why we should all vote no. And has a bit of disinformation along with it. What can one expect from a letter to the editor.
This proposal was born from the hysteria following last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London, Conn., a decision that has been thoroughly misrepresented in almost every accounting. The Kelo decision is simply irrelevant to New Hampshire, and the rush to amend our constitution is pointless.

If you picked up a newspaper in the summer of 2005, here is what you probably "learned": The Supreme Court allowed the city of New London to kick Susette Kelo out of the home she’d lived in all her life and sell her property to private developers who coveted her prime waterfront location. Suddenly, everyone’s home was at risk of being taken and sold to greedy developers.

Outrageous? Sure. There's just one problem with the story: Everything about it is false.

The real outrage is that a national libertarian organization, the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, has terrified homeowners (and lawmakers) by misrepresenting the Kelo case and its consequences. This is part of the Institute’s larger national campaign against every kind of governmental regulation, including most zoning and environmental laws.
Right, it's all hysteria and disinformation by some evil libertarian organization. Unfortunately everything about the case is far from false. I love the contention that people made out that Kelo had lived on the property her whole life. Not that that is a relevant issue, but we'll get to that below.
Now, a local political action committee is running commercials claiming the Kelo court ruled that "any home can be seized by eminent domain and bulldozed to build a shopping mall."

Hooey. Here are the facts: In 1998 the city of New London, a once-vibrant whaling center that had been abandoned by industry and left with crippling unemployment and a vanishing tax base, proposed a redevelopment plan to attract businesses, residents and tourists back to its riverfront area. The plan's purpose was to improve the city's physical environment and its economy for the benefit of all of its citizens. "Greedy developers" were not involved.
Hooey? Well, the developer may not have been greedy, but the property was definitely siezed from one private entity and handed to another private entity for private use. There most certainly was public interests in the case, but the Kelo and like properties weren't part of the public part. Only 3 of the 8 projects in that area had relations to the public use. The rest are private. That isn't all public use and most certainly was a questionable use for the public good. Go read the MuD&PHuD link. It details why the contentions on Kelo aren't overblown.
The plan required the acquisition of 115 pieces of property. Most owners sold their property voluntarily to the city. Six owners, including Ms. Kelo, refused and took their case to court. For the record, Susette Kelo had lived in her house for all of one year when the city began public discussion of its redevelopment plan - not that that matters, but let's get the facts straight.
Only one year?! How dare she challenge their right to steal her property if she only paid for it and had legal title for only a single year. How is this an argument? What relevance does time have with relation to ownership? As for getting the facts straight, your ruler appears to be bent Mr. Johnston.
Why, then, does New Hampshire's constitution need to be amended? It doesn't. No one has cited a single case in our 222-year constitutional history that would have been affected if the proposed amendment had been in place. (The one case frequently mentioned, an urban renewal project in Portsmouth in the 1960s, was carried out by the federal government pursuant to an act of Congress. No state constitutional provision could have prevented that.)

Further, the language of the proposed amendment was (fortunately) watered down during the legislative process to the point that it accomplishes nothing. It states merely that property may not be taken for "private development or other private use."

The constitution already says property can be taken only for "public use," which is the same as saying it can"t be taken for private use, so what is new here?
Right. No cases that he knows of doesn't mean that it couldn't happen. Citizens needn't wait until there is an actual taking to make a stand to provide greater protections. Shamefully, the amendment is watered down and in fact is more vague than it should be. In fact, he'll make that argument later in his letter, but for some reason it is fortunate in this part of his argument. The argument that the public use description in the NH constitution is enough strikes me as supporting a vague statement while vilifying a second vague statement. What's new here is that the constitution will now specifically forbid taking for private ownership irrespective of the public use. That little bit about private development is a far different thing than private use.
Supporters assert, strangely, that this change is necessary to prohibit New Hampshire courts from defining "public use" too broadly. But the amendment does nothing to limit that definition. It merely prohibits takings for "private use" and leaves the definition of both terms to - guess who! - the same courts that have defined them for two centuries. The amendment would not, for example, prevent a court from interpreting "public use" to allow a Kelo-type taking.

Since the amendment apparently changes nothing, what's the harm in supporting it? First, having two articles in the constitution that say the same thing in different words is an invitation to confusion and litigation.

Second, approving the amendment would send a message that New Hampshire voters can be fooled into approving meaningless constitutional changes to advance someone else's ideological agenda. Tell these people to go back to Washington and leave us alone. Vote no on Question 1.
No doubt the wording could have been more specific in the definition of public use. But that doesn't mean that the amendment isn't without merit. It would curtail the ability to hand property to private developers properties that could potentially fall out of public use in the future. Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth is a good example of property taken for public use that ended up in private developers hands and wasn't handed back to the original owners from whom it was siezed.

Note now that he sees the wording as inviting confusion and litigation. I wonder why it was fortunate before?

This isn't the best of amendments, but it does further clarify, even if weakly, the stance that in NH it is unacceptable to take private property and hand it to another private entity for "public use."

I'd write a letter to the editor of the Telegraph on the topic, but they have a bad habit of not printing dessenting views. I've previously tried, but apparently they have an issue with giving all sides of the issue a voice.


Monday, October 30, 2006

UN Commission for Genocidal Development

Caught this at the Gun Blogs.

Frightening on many levels.
United Nations member states voted Thursday to create an international treaty to curb the illicit trade in guns and other light weapons, despite strong opposition from the United States and other big powers.

On Thursday, a vast majority of delegates to the U.N. General Assembly's first committee endorsed the resolution calling for the establishment of a treaty to stop weapons transfers that fuel conflict, poverty and serious human rights violations.

As many as 139 countries voted in favour of the resolution while 24 abstained. The United States, the world's largest supplier of small arms, was the only country that opposed the resolution.

Other major arms-manufacturing nations that oppose the treaty but did not participate in the voting include Russia, China, India and Pakistan.
There ya go. Only recognized governments will be able to buy arms. Completely ignoring the abuses of some countries in arming those who commit genocide.
"It's a great victory," Helen Hughes of the London-based Amnesty International told IPS. "We had governments in that room who finally listened to human rights campaigners."

Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam International, described the treaty as an international commitment to "end the scandal of the unregulated arms trade".

Both Amnesty International and Oxfam had been at the forefront of lobbying efforts in support of the treaty. This week they were joined by 15 Nobel Peace Prize-winners in urging nations to vote for the resolution.

"No weapons should ever be transferred if they will be used for serious violations of human rights," they said in a letter to the delegates who are currently attending the General Assembly session.
It will be interesting to see how they propose to control this. Of course the Janjaweed won't be allowed any arms, oh, wait, they already have them. No doubt the UN will clean up Darfur and other human rights hell holes and disarm all those naughty people who are being murdered by those who have government sponsors giving them guns. Then again, places like Rawanda didn't need many guns to have their attempts at genocide.
"No state should authorise international arms transfers that violate the specific obligations under international law," the letter said. It further recommended that governments submit national reports on arms transfers to an international registry.

The current volume of the global arms trade is estimated to be around 1.1 trillion dollars, an amount that is likely to increase further by the end of this year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Independent experts who have worked closely with the United Nations on the issue of small arms proliferation estimate that in the past three years more than one million people have been killed as a result of the unchecked flow of guns and other small weapons.

"A thousand people die every day and many more harmed as a result of the proliferation and misuse of small arms," said Rebecca Peters, the director of the International Action Network on Small Arms.

"The world can no longer leave civilians to the mercy of gunrunners and arms brokers who are profiting every year," she added in a statement calling for a worldwide ban on the use and supply of illicit weapons.
There, you get to have your own international registry of who is allowed to get guns, and of course, those governments will be forever honest and never violate the human rights of their citizens.

I may be too sarcastic on this one, but I'm thinking that if the UN is involved, you can be certain that there is going to be failure that is sanctioned and supported by the UN that ends up killing far more people than if they were allowed to be armed.



Doomed

The odd thing is that I just don't see the world getting out of its own way. Of course, having reports screaming doom from economists on the issue of climate change are a bit strange, but that doesn't help either.
A report commissioned by the British government and scheduled for release Monday calls for substantial international cooperation to combat global warming and doubling public spending on research into low-carbon technologies.

The main findings of the 16-month study, led by Sir Nicholas Stern, the chief of Britain's economic service, were described over the weekend in several British news reports. The Reuters news agency quoted the report's 27-page summary as saying, "The evidence gathered by the review leads to a simple conclusion: the benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs."

The report, prepared for Tony Blair, the prime minister, and Gordon Brown, the finance minister, has been heavily promoted by Britain and environmental groups as one of the most authoritative reviews of climate costs, although some economists and energy experts at anti-regulatory research groups saw it as understating the cost of an accelerated transition away from the fossil fuels that provide nearly 90 percent of the world's energy today.

The report, called the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, will be published online at sternreview.org.uk.

Oh, wait, that is from the NYTime who is actually reasonable on reporting this. Let's look at the CNN report for contrast:
Climate change will devastate the global economy on a scale of the two world wars and the depression of the 1930s if left unchecked, a top economist has warned.

Introducing a report by Nicholas Stern that it commissioned, the British government also said Monday that former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who is now a vocal environmental advocate, is to serve as an adviser on the issue.

The report's main argument is that the benefits of coordinated action around the world to tackle global warming will greatly outweigh any financial costs.

But Stern, a former World Bank economist, who wrote the report, concludes that ignoring climate change could lead to huge economic upheaval.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said if no action was taken, climate change could cost the world up to 20 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) each year.

Kinda scary when the NYTimes sounds like the voice of reason.
Oh, and can't forget the part about blaming Bush for the problem.
U.S. President George W. Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol -- which calls on the 35 richest countries to cut carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars -- in part because he said it hit jobs.
Though the NYTimes actually reports it correctly.
The United States has not ratified the Kyoto pact but is a party to the voluntary treaty that preceded it, which requires all signatories to seek to avoid a dangerous buildup of greenhouse gases.
Well, so much for the MSM reporting abilities.

I do enjoy reading the Greenpeace response:
"This confirms what we’ve seen for a long time,” said Kert Davies, a climate-policy coordinator for Greenpeace. “The longer we take to act, the greater the costs will be."
It's almost laughable. The group that stands firmly in the path of any energy source that could replace the use of fossil fuels is prognosticating doom. But then that wouldn't help their desire of seeing every country moving back to the pre-industrial ages, since that is the only place we'll be able to exist with the energy sources that they think are worthy.

The Kyoto protocol keeps being touted out in all of these reports, though the viability of that process has been more than clearly shown that it would completely fail. But hey, let's just keep calling on the world to use a worthless protocol irrespecitive of whether it will actually aid in any correction of the problem.

No one wants to sacrifice in the least to limit emissions and no one wants to allow alternatives that would reduce emissions.

Doomed I tell you.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

The McGovern Anti-War Lesson

This is a rather interesting Op-Ed at the NYTimes. They talk about the McGovern lesson from the Anti-war stand after Vietnam, but I would say that this is just another of the lessons that the country hasn't really learned from how the country dealt with Vietnam and the loss of that war.
On the eve of the midterms, dismay over the Iraq war has propelled the Democrats to a political status they have not enjoyed since before Mr. McGovern: for the first time in decades, polls show that the public trusts Democrats as much as Republicans to handle foreign affairs.

But as they look ahead, Democrats are torn between two visions of their history. Some potential candidates in the 2008 Democratic primary and many liberal activists argue that the Republican responsibility for the Iraq war has, in effect, freed the Democrats from Mr. McGovern’s legacy. They say the 2006 elections will provide a mandate for a new antiwar argument: that troops can be pulled from Iraq in order to shore up American security elsewhere in the world.

Other strategists and political scientists argue that the Iraq war has given the Democrats a different opportunity to lay to rest their McGovernite image, in part by rejecting calls for a quick withdrawal in Iraq.

“All voters are doing is giving Democrats a chance, and we better not blow it,” said Gary Hart, the former senator and presidential candidate.

A younger McGovern could probably win the Democratic primary, Mr. Hart said, but he would still lose the general election. “Just running on a platform of ‘get us out of Iraq’ is not going to solve the Democrats’ problem on the issue of national security,” he said.

This has a definite sound of someone having an idea that if the Dems win the mid-terms and then screw up the Iraq peace, they will again be painted with the brush of weak, though this time the topic will be terrorism. Not that it is particularly fair to paint all the Dems that way, but that appears to be a part of the results. Sadly, I think that the fever-swamp left truly want us out of Iraq irrespective of the results or the aftermath. That complete blindness to the reality of the world and the specific topic of terrorism is what makes me truly worried about the Dems getting into power.
During the midterm campaigns, Democrats have risen in the polls merely by attacking President Bush’s conduct of the war. They have not spelled out or agreed on a clear alternative of their own.

That luxury, however, is coming to an end. On Nov. 8, the day after the election, attention will shift toward the 2008 presidential race. How to handle Iraq could be the defining issue of the Democratic primary, and criticizing President Bush may not count for much in the general election since the Republican nominee may also be a vocal critic of his administration’s handling of the war.

Pleasing the party’s “bring ’em home” base while burnishing its security credentials may not be easy. A USA Today poll released Friday showed that more than 80 percent of the public expects Democrats to set a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq if they take control of Congress. But so far none of Democratic Congressional leaders has called for a fixed deadline.

And although all the potential primary candidates — and President Bush for that matter — say they want the troops home as soon as possible, on the question of a timetable, their views could hardly be more disparate.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the most prominent candidate, has rejected any timetable for withdrawal. Senator John Kerry, the 2004 nominee, and Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin have already called for a fixed deadline.

The timetable concept is the most egregious. Obviously it's better than the Murtha immediate "redeployment." Either way, this running out before there is stability in the region will make it a failure and that will not only ensure further terrorist threats, but will also end with the Dems continuing to have the reputation of being weak on terrorism.
Kevin Mattson, a liberal historian at Ohio University, argued that the comparisons to the McGovern campaign were misleading and “goofy.”

For one thing, unlike critics of the Iraq war, neither Mr. McGovern nor any other prominent Democrat opposed the Vietnam War because it was an impediment to the fight against Communism — an argument that would have been hard to make at that advanced stage of the cold war. Advisers to Vice President Hubert Humphrey urged him to make such a case in 1968 but he refused, Mr. Mattson said.

I think that Mattson misses a point. The McGovern lesson won't be limited by who approved of the war or the withdrawal. If the Dems pull the same behavior in congress of abandoning the Iraq peace, and the country then destabilizes and becomes a terrorist haven, which is likely, they will be seen as being soft of terrorism because they failed to complete the task that then led to a terrorist haven. I think for most, the results of the scenario is what is used not necessarily the method.

Some Dems do seem to see the problem.
Others, however, argued that letting their victories this year eclipse the McGovern experience may be the biggest risk that Democrats face in 2008. “My concern is that some Democrats will learn the wrong lessons from our victory,” Senator Joe Biden of Delaware said.

Noting the number of conservative Democratic challengers this fall, he said that voters are seeking “a bipartisan consensus” about how to leave more than chaos and instability in Iraq. “A pullout is not a plan,” Mr. Biden said, “it is a reaction.” What sealed the Democrats’ image after Vietnam, historians say, was not just Mr. McGovern’s campaign but also their reaction as public opinion turned on the war. After 1968, Democrats in Congress began pressing to curtail the war or cut off its financing. And their efforts reached a peak after the post-Watergate midterm election of 1974, when many Democrats interpreted their landslide gains as a mandate to cut back on national defense.

No one is making similar proposals today. But James M. Lindsay, a director of the Robert S. Strauss for International Security and Law at the University of Texas in Austin and a former national security official in the Clinton administration, said big wins in 2006 may well embolden antiwar Democrats in 2008, while pulling “centrists” like Mrs. Clinton closer to withdrawal.

“But there are going to be a lot of Democratic strategists whispering in their ears that ‘you don’t want to go there’ because it is bad politics, and it is bad policy to boot,” he said. “The problem is you also have to win the general election. You don’t need to appeal to people who have made up their mind and had a bumper sticker on the back of their car for the last four years.”

I really hope that more of the Dems understand that irrespective of how we got into Iraq, the US has to ensure that they walk away with a stable and functioning country.

Unfortunately, if you listen to the voices that are loudest in the Democratic party, you can be pretty certain that Iraq will be a failure due to the politics alone. Just once it would be nice to see the politicians using some logic in a situation rather than flying off the handle based on poll results.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

When Condemnation is Called for, Call the UN!!

Yessir, when evil men are doing their evil deeds and really need a harsh talking to, the UN is your go-to guy!

Women are facing increasing violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, especially when they speak out publicly to defend women’s rights, a senior U.N. official told the U.N. Security Council.“

In Afghanistan, attacks on school establishments put the lives of girls at risk when they attempt to exercise their basic rights to education,” Guehenno said. “Women and girls are raped when they go out to fetch firewood in Darfur. In Liberia, over 40 percent of women and girls surveyed have been victims of sexual violence. In the eastern Congo, over 12,000 rapes of women and girls have been reported in the last six months alone.”

At the end of the meeting, the council said it “remains deeply concerned by the pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women in armed conflicts.” and reiterated its strong condemnation of all acts of sexual misconduct by U.N. peacekeeping personnel.
Well, that'll stop the rapes. The fear of stong condemnation will no doubt keep the rapist Peacekeepers in line. The women in these areas can rest easy knowing the UN is deeply concerned. Of course, any consideration of actual ACTION to be taken against perpetrators and to prevent ongoing violence appears to have been absent. But I get such a warm fuzzy knowing the UN is using my tax dollars to have these big, important, useless meetings, don't you?

Instapunk Gets One Wrong

Yeah, I was shocked too. Although, his main point is actually correct. I have to agree that most, if not all, of the Republicans in office are stupid. I also have to agree that the best & brightest from the conservative side of the spectrum aren't in government where as, apart from academia, that's where almost all of the "progressives" reside. It's not the main point that bothered me. It's the supporting arguments.
I can't agree with your assessments of Wellington & Churchill (you're spot on with Ike). These were incredibly smart, intellectual men. Was Wellington smarter than Napolean? Well, yeah, actually, he was. He defeated every general Napolean had and then the grand man himself in battle. The Iron Duke then went on to be Prime Minister of GB for something like 20 years, introducing reforms to help the Irish and setting up conditions that allowed GB to effectively take over the planet. Napoleon on the other hand sat on a rock in the middle of the ocean and spewed propoganda. He's more remember because of the propoganda, but I would not say he was smarter.
Churchill had an amazing intellect. He was a voracious reader and a deep thinker. He published a number of histories that are still used to this day (Nyarlathotep is reading one now or just finished one, I forget). This was not a stupid man.
Sorry guy, had to call you on this one.

Deval Patrick On Guns

You have to scroll down, but you'll find specifics like these:

limit gun purchases in Massachusetts to one firearm per month;
ensure that private sellers such as those at gun shows are subjected to the same reviews and checks as licensed dealers;
require background checks of purchasers at gun shows and from private dealers;
I understand the the one a month is meant to keep people from trafficing illegally in arms. Unfortunately, it just isn't going to work and it improperly impacts legal gun purchases. Someone explain to me, carefully and slowly because I'm so dumb, how keeping me from purchasing two WWI rifles within a four week period will keep gang bangers from shooting one another? I guess Deval hasn't received word yet, but, except for federal licensees, all lawful transfers of firearms in this state are required to go through a licensed dealer and all those transfers require a NIC phone call. So again, making the transfer of firearms more illegal will affect the gang bangers in what way?
I mean seriiously, what we're talking about here is the belief that some 17 year old thug will have this sort of thought process (substitute appropriate street slang where required):
I'm going to go and get a gun and shoot as many of that rival gang as I possibly can. I will then be able to market and distribute my illicit drugs across a wider territory. Now I will go to a gun show and hide amongst the hunters and collectors in order to purchase a gun illegally. What? Oh no. Deval Patrick has thwarted my plans to kill, maim, torture and drug my fellow man because I would be breaking the law to purchase a firearm.
Deval, and anyone else, if they want to kill people, they'll kill people. Please, please, please, go and read the study of the Australian gun laws and their complete lack of effectiveness (commented on by the Geekwife).
Better still, let's just elect Kerry Healey.

Deval Patrick Quotes Mao

THIS IS NOT GOOD!
Double-plus un-good for those of you in Cambridge.
Mao? What's next? Che? Stalin? Oh, I know Pol Pot.
After Deval takes office (assuming), does his first press conference start, "This is year zero..."
Elect Kerry Healey

Hub Politics Blog Goes After Deval Patrick

A number of great posts over there. He's very thoughtful and not missing a beat, reporting exactly the kind of man that is running for governor. It's going to be a rough four years with this guy in office. Taxes will absolutely go up. The state economy will go down. He's willing to, and probably will, offer drivers licenses and in-state tuition to illegal aliens. He's going to enact even more restrictive gun laws. This state will become a worse place to live.
Please, vote for Kerry Healey.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Deval Patrick Supporters Stay Home

Now wouldn't that be sweet. Remember, despite all the polls, he squeaked a win in one of lowest voter turnouts in history for a Democratic primary in this state. It's actually possible for him to lose.
Go and vote for Kerry Healey.

Deval Patrick Scared

Unfortunately, no, he isn't. He's shrewd. One-on-one he'd take a beating and he knows it. Plus, according to the polls, he's winning. There will be no debate. Shame too. I doubt Kerry would win because of it, but at least we'd get the chance to see her verbally abuse him for a while.

Deval Patrick, No Surprises

We're down to the wire on this election. Deval Patrick is totally on display with nothing really hidden. So, what's coming for MA. Apart from stupid rhetoric like "Together We Can." Let's take a quick look at his Issues Overview.

The untapped potential of persons with disabilities is a resource that we must unleash. – Deval Patrick
I know a number of people with varying degree of disability. Most of the ones I know are educated and employeed. Those that are educable & employable. So what exactly is Deval talking about? Spending tax payer money:
...provide more long-term care at home...
Expand Access to Personal Care Attendants
Eliminate the Achievement Gap. Disconcerting gaps in achievement defined by disability and other factors have emerged in public schools. We will eliminate them by providing appropriate inclusive educational settings, and state of the art special education tools and support.
Expand Eligibility to Health Insurance
Develop Affordable Housing Option. We will dramatically expand the range of housing options for people with disabilities, from home ownership, rental, congregate living and assisted living environments. We will also double the size of the Home Modifications Program and the Community Based Housing program to enable more people with disabilities, including children and seniors, to live in their own homes.

I especially love the last one. Yes, let's double the size of a government body. Any one see any proposals that couldn't be boiled down to "spend more money"? Me neither. Let's move on.
Deval wants to help the elderly. That's just as nice as what he wants to do for the disabled. Let's see how:
Rebalancing Long-Term Care. My administration will work to provide more long-term care at home. By moving more funds into community-based services ...
"Spend more money" Yeah, heard it next.
Property Tax Relief for Elders. We will expand outreach and education efforts to ensure that every elderly homeowner in the state learns of the opportunity to have a portion of their property taxes waived. Using a network of volunteers at nonprofit agencies to counsel elders, we will work to expand access to the “circuit breaker” property tax credit. Unfortunately, most eligible elders don’t know how to use it.
OK, to be fair, I've never heard of this either. But note, when it comes to "Property Tax Relief" not only is Deval not actually providing ANY property tax relief, in this case, he's not prepared to spend any money either. Instead volunteers will educate the elderly about a tax relief of which they may be unaware. How nice. Next
Promoting Work and Civic Engagement Opportunities. I will work with the business, nonprofit and government sectors to make Massachusetts a model state for capturing the contributions of this healthier, more educated and experience-rich generation of older adults as both paid workers and volunteers. Massachusetts will become a “State of Choice” for older workers and their employers by expanding worker retraining programs through community colleges and nonprofits. This will be done specifically in industries where there is great need and by joining with unions to develop best practices to recruit and retain older workers and volunteers within government and nonprofits.
This almost sounded good until it got down to expanding retraining programs, working with unions and keeping workers in the government and nonprofits. Expand programs... "spend more money", keep workers in government... "spend more money", nonprofits, just a guess, but I'll bet this involves "spending more money." Huh. I'm beginning to notice a trend and we've only looked at two of his nine points. More.
The economy. I'm sure we'll see some proposals here... Nope. Not a one. Except that he'll get business to come to MA because he'll assure them "that neither taxes nor regulation will be unreasonable." Oh well, if I've got Deval's assurance that my taxes won't skyrocket after I've opened a major manufacturing plant, let's move to Massachusetts instead of Georgia since all they're offering is tax breaks and regulation reform. Right.
Environment. He supports Cape Wind. Well, we agree on one thing so far.
Healthcare?
I want health care for every man, woman, and child in Massachusetts that is affordable, portable, safe, patient-centered, and as effective as modern science can make it.
Say it with me, "spend more money."
Schools
[Deval Patrick] said he would put school funding on a two-year cycle for better planning, reduce class sizes and boost funding for state colleges and universities.
"Spend more money."
Now we see what a card he is when he trots out some humor
I want a state government that is fiscally responsible and efficiently managed.
Oh, [wiping a tear from my eye] good one Deval.
Guns. Well, he got the backing of the Brady Campaign so I think that is 100% clear. Take 'em away from anyone and everyone.
Well, that's that. For all the good it will do, I'm voting for Kerry Healey.

LATimes Whimpering Over Lack of Gun-Control Debate in Midterms

As can be expected from gun control advocates, they begin riding the corpses of those that died in the recent school shootings and then ponder the politics of gun-control.
EARLIER THIS MONTH, a conference was held on school safety in the wake of the murders of five Amish schoolgirls in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a series of other violent incidents.

President Bush was there, along with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. There was a survivor of the Columbine shootings, a collection of school superintendents and security officials and representatives of the PTA. Discussion of how to prevent school violence touched on everything from the use of metal detectors to video games to anger management. But according to the Washington Post, one prominent element in the school shooting sprees was not even mentioned: guns.

Now, a conference on school violence that evades discussion of the role of guns is like a seminar on "Hamlet" that focuses on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern but makes no mention of the prince of Denmark.
Fascinating that the gun is posed as the primary actor and not the killer. Ignore the defense of the school that essentially left the children open to any casual passer by. Ignore that the killers are commonly emotionally or mentally broken. It's about the guns.

But let's skip onto the politics. I'll skip the manliness and posturing statements.
That's the goal of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. His vision of breaking the GOP lock on states such as Wyoming, Montana and Colorado has caused the Democrats to holster their olive branch, snatch the Winchester from the cold, dead hands of Charlton Heston and ride off under the leadership of Montana's pro-gun Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer to confront the Mountain West Republican Party. We should not be surprised if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton shows up at the 2008 Democratic Convention togged out like Annie Oakley, shooting cigars out of the mouth of her husband, the former president.

The NRA, for its part, has decided to meet the Democrats halfway, scurrying to put some of its $20-million campaign war chest in the pockets of 60 gun-friendly congressional Democrats across the country, according to the Wall Street Journal. The NRA ran the table in the 108th and 109th congresses, which allowed the assault rifle ban to expire, curtailed municipal lawsuits against gun makers and mandated the quick destruction by the FBI of gun registration data. The NRA has evidently concluded that it needs to hedge its bets in the event that the Democrats capture one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7.
That's right, the NRA supports, in many cases, whoever has the best gun record. Funny how they do that. And it's the NRA that is supposedly moving and not the democratic pols, though I'd conjecture that there has actually been movement from both sides. There still is an obvious bias toward the Republican pols, but that is far more often due to Repugs supporting second amendment rights. Interestingly enough, you could also postulate that more pro-gun Dems means that the belief in gun rights is no longer a disabling posture in the Dem's tent.

As for Hillary shooting cigars from Bill's big mouth, I'd love to see that. Wouldn't be especially surprised if she missed and shot his nose off.
But in truth, some of the efforts by Democrats to rein in firearms during the Republican-led congresses have been more symbolic than real. The assault-rifle ban was, in essence, an aesthetic campaign against ugly and menacing-looking rifles that operated no differently from ordinary hunting rifles. State and municipal gun laws, which Democrats typically back, are no match for vigorous interstate commerce in top-shelf Glock and Sig Sauer handguns and cheap knockoffs, which Democrats are helpless to curb.

There is much that the new, gun-friendly Democrats can learn from experience as the abortion-friendly party. They can, for example, modify that catchy pro-choice slogan and proclaim the hope that firearms "should be legal and rare." Or how about a bumper sticker adapting the pro-choice battle cry: "If you are against guns, don't own one"?
Yep, it's that extremely powerful gun lobby that keeps down the local gun controls. Not that there is a strong local resistance against gun control. There are obviously soft spots in the big cities and in the most blue of the blue states.

Ross Baker misses a major point in the discussion. The gun owners of America are exceptionally wary of those politicos that don't support gun rights. Pelosi, Feinstien, Conyers, Schumer, etc are all seen as extreme threats to gun ownership, and seeing that they are heavily entrenched politicos the gun rights groups remain extremely active in politics.




Information Warfare and the US MSM

Interesting website reported on Strategy Page. The DoD is trying to correct the reporting of various MSM organs such as Newsweek, the NYTimes, and the Weekly Standard.
The U.S. Department of Defense is now taking its requests for corrections public through a website known as For the Record (located at http://www.defenselink.mil/home/dodupdate/index-b.html). Here, the Department of Defense is openly calling for corrections from major media outlets, and even noting when they refuse to publish letters to the editor.

The most recent was this past Tuesday, when the DOD published a letter, that the New York Times refused to run, which contained quotes from five generals (former CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks, current CENTCOM commander John Abizaid, MNF Commander George Casey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, as well as his successor, Peter Pace) that rebutted a New York Times editorial. This has been picked up by a number of bloggers who have been able to spread the Pentagon's rebuttal – and the efforts of the New York Times to sweep it under the rug – across the country.

I like the entry on a Newsweek article:
Newsweek dismissed the rebuttal as the “government position,” as well as the request for a stand-alone column. The Pentagon’s response to that letter read in part: “First, a ‘concise’ letter to the editor, of say, 200 words, cannot adequately address an [sic] 2200-word article containing a series of false assertions. Second, the issue is not Newsweek’s position versus the ‘government position.’ The issue is that your readers were given a one-sided, opinion-laced article on Afghanistan based on falsehoods—which is something that journalists and editors are usually concerned about. Your dismissive reply is disappointing, to say the least.”
It's interesting that the government can't be allowed to rebut the arguments in the MSM and they choose to treat the government's position as if it were propaganda. But, then again, the government position can't be allowed in their magazine, because if the public was actually allowed to hear a dissenting position, they may actually question the veracity of the MSM.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fourth Estate Whining on SCOTUS

What a wonderful article. With articles like this, there is little wonder why people see these journalists as pushing their opinions into journalism. There is also no wonder why I go to blawgs for information on cases instead of the press. At least you get truthful commentary with perspective and context on blawgs.
And although, if anything, the Supreme Court press corps is hypercautious in its attention to legal detail at the expense of sensationalism, Scalia dismisses them, and their readers, because, in his view, "nobody would read it if you went into the details of the law that the court has to resolve."

Justice Samuel Alito, in his comments at the same event, went on to complain about the role of the Internet in legal reporting. His view is that people understand the courts through news media that oversimplify and sensationalize. Moreover, and again according to the AP, people's ability to amplify their comments worldwide online about judges and their opinions hurts the judiciary.
Sadly, the details are exceptionally important in SCOTUS cases. The press pretty much always oversimplifies or just plain leaves out important facts. Sometime go to the Volokh Conspiracy and look at a reported SCOTUS case and compare it to the details discussed in that blawg.
Like his colleagues, the chief justice is confusing the message with the messenger. Certainly Roberts is right to say that "justices don't sit to help educate people about how the court functions." But that doesn't mean the public has no right to be educated. And since the justices have systematically made public education more difficult—by denying video and almost wholly limiting same-day audio coverage of the court's proceedings, as well as limiting access for bloggers—it is hypocritical in the extreme to criticize the constrained reporting that results. To be sure, the court now releases same-day transcripts of oral arguments, and my guess is that legal reporting will now improve across the board as a consequence. But that merely proves the point: Less secrecy makes for more accurate coverage. Whereas secret Supreme Court criticism of journalists themselves limited by Supreme Court secrecy makes for an Escher staircase.
This is interesting, because it truly seems that she is conflating Roberts statement that the Supremes aren't there to educate the populace with an idea that the Supremes are being secretive. What a steaming pile is that. The Supremes have no liking for the circus that most courts with cameras have become, and frankly don't care to have the SCOTUS follow that lead. Of course, having the transcripts come out after a day could only be postured as secrecy by the MSM.

As for the "constrained" reporting, I suppose by only reporting the sensational results without bothering with the logic could be seen as distortion. But, the MSM is completely free of bias or partisanship, so god knows they couldn't do that.
Either the justices want Americans to understand and care about what they do in that big old white building, or they don't. It's too late to hope that citizens might just choose to tune out. And if the justices want Americans to be educated about the court, they should encourage the fullest reporting possible, recognizing that some of it will be good and some will be bad, but that more information is always better than less. The justices can keep taking swipes at the Internet, imaginary editorialists, and phantom tabloid reporters for making them look bad. Or they can recognize what makes them look even worse: themselves.
Sorry, I disagree. How the MSM postures most of the SCOTUS cases are so brief or vague that the public doesn't understand and begins twitching about out of control judiciary. As for the Supremes making themselves look bad, I think the press may want to work in the beam in their own eye.



Eminant Domain Ballot in NH

This really must pass.

Question No. 1 - Eminent Domain

SUMMARY

Question No. 1. "Are you in favor of amending the first part of the constitution by inserting a new article 12-a to provide that private property can only be taken as follows:

[Art.] 12-a [Power to Take Property Limited.] No part of a person's property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property."
If this doesn't become part of the constitution, expect there to be a civil war in NH. If you support stealing property from a NH citizen to give to someone else, send me your name and address, and expect to be purged back to Massachusetts.


Iraq Strategy

USAtoday, as usual is completely clueless.
There is little doubting the sincerity of President Bush's commitment to the mission in Iraq. On Wednesday, amid sinking public approval less than two weeks before congressional elections, Bush set out yet another course for a victory he optimistically predicted was achievable.

The president's conviction is obvious. But whether it's supported by facts — and whether there's a real path to victory as he defines it — is dubious.

I'm baffled by the complaint on a change of course when the normal voice of this crowd has been that "stay-the-course" is the wrong action. In fact, anyone with a clue about wars would realize that tactical changes have been the norm for the whole time that the US military has been in Iraq. Bush's conviction is appropriate and is far more attached with the reality that must be met for a stability in the middle-east.
There continues to be a yawning gap between his rhetoric and reality (Read the Opposing view):

  • "Absolutely we're winning," Bush said. But only 19% of Americans in last weekend's USA TODAY/Gallup Poll agree. And just 14% of Iraqis surveyed recently say the U.S. impact on their country is mostly positive.
  • The United States has "no intention of ... standing in the crossfire between rival factions," the president said. But that's exactly where American troops in Baghdad now find themselves.
  • Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is "the right man," he said, though shortly before Bush's news conference the Iraqi leader denounced a U.S. raid on one of the many militias drawing Iraq deeper into civil war.

For all of Bush's claims to consistency in his policy, the definition of "victory" has also shifted. At first, he thought invasion alone would light the fires of democracy. Then it became a longer-term fight to suppress terrorists and spread freedom in the Arab Middle East. Now, political rhetoric aside, it is simply to get out while leaving a functioning, U.S.-allied government behind.

I love when the MSM postures a poll as proof that a military action is failing. What relevance exists in an opinion of a small group of the population who haven't a clue as to what is actually happening on the ground is what really needs to be answered.

Bush was incorrect to state that US forces wouldn't be emplaced to stop the sectarian violence in Baghdad. Stabilization of Baghdad is required for Iraq stabilize.

Maliki, being the consensus candidate for the Iraq government, is the one that must make the decisions regarding the actions with regards to the militias. He is in a very difficult position with the various militias and the groups that they support. Al-Sadr's militia is a huge problem, and Maliki isn't helping himself by allowing them to run free, primarily due to the fact that Maliki receives a great deal of support from al-Sadr. Stabilization will require that they be disbanded or brought under control of the government. Independent military units will continue to destabilize Baghdad.

As usual, these talking ass' find fault but can't provide any useful alternatives.
Whatever happens next, the Iraq mess won't be resolved by new slogans, speeches, news conferences or Power Point presentations. After 3 years, nearly the same length as U.S. involvement in World War II, the only meaningful progress in Iraq is clear and convincing success on the ground.
How the time in WWII is relevant is beyond me, since there clearly was no large scale insurgency or sectarian conflicts in Germany or Japan. But hey, if you're going to pick an inappropriate comparison, pick the worst. How about comparing this with the Malayan insurgency? Of course, making the statement that this is merely new slogans and speeches ignores that there have been changes in tactics in the field and is in itself a completely vapid conclusion.

Tony Snow replies here with some relevant information.
We have pursued that aim according to the challenges on the ground and have adjusted to shifting realities — from the early resistance by Saddam Hussein's armies, to early battles in such places as Fallujah totoday's Iraq, where 14 of 18 provinces live in relative peace. Gen. George Casey noted earlier this week that 90% of the violence in Iraq now occurs within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad. Coalition forces have been assisting Iraqi army and police in taking on the perpetrators of that violence, and they have adopted the tactic of trying to clear, hold and rebuild neighborhoods wracked by terror.

The combined Iraqi-U.S. forces will win that fight, as they have every other engagement of the war. But peace in Iraq will require more than superiority of arms. Iraqis need some other basics for good and free lives — a political system that will guarantee rights and representation for all, and an economy that can provide jobs.

President Bush and Prime Minister al-Maliki have been working on those objectives since the prime minister's accession to power. In the past month, al-Maliki has pursued national reconciliation. The Iraqi parliament is streamlining the legislative process, refining the constitution, considering key issues of federalism, and passing a "hydrocarbons law" that would provide for the general distribution of oil and natural gas revenues.

But you can be assured that this is just a new slogan or speech and not a reality. I suppose it would be more appropriate if he had some poll to quote.

Mort Kondrache points out that there is a lot to lose in failure. One thing that the anti-war crowd seems to never recall with respect to the failure in Vietnam.
But a precipitous U.S. withdrawal and defeat in Iraq will produce results far worse than in Vietnam, and that was bad enough. More than 2 million people were killed in Vietnam and Cambodia after 1975. Believing the U.S. to be weak, the Soviet Union was emboldened to invade Afghanistan, and Islamic radicals took over Iran.

Henry Kissinger, too, has seen this movie before, as secretary of State under former Presidents Richard Nixon and Ford. Last year, he wrote in The Washington Post that "because of the long reach of the Islamist challenge, the outcome in Iraq will have an even deeper significance than that in Vietnam.

"If a Taliban-type government or a fundamentalist radical state were to emerge in Iraq, shockwaves would ripple through the Islamic world. Radical forces in Islamic countries ... would be emboldened in their attacks on existing governments. The safety and internal stability of all societies within reach of militant Islam would be imperiled."

If the U.S. fails in Iraq, Bush and Rumsfeld will be to blame, just as President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara were, for grossly misjudging the difficulty of the task and the strength of U.S. will, as well as for mishandling the war, the diplomacy and the domestic politics.

But all of us -- including Democrats in Congress -- will pay the consequences. It behooves them, if they win in November, not to repeat history.

The blame has already been laid. The reality of the loss is being ignored. If sectarian violence plunges into full fledged civil war the effects on the people of Iraq will be extreme. Think the prices of fuel are bad now, wait until the terrorist start moving into the rest of the middle-east and attempting to drive out the western interests. And seeing how effective the move to alternate energy sources have been in the past few decades, I'm convinced that the world economy will be greatly damaged.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

US Troops Against Iraq

I'm sure the Anti-war left are thinking this is just fantastic.
More than 200 active duty U.S. armed service members, fed up with the war in Iraq, have joined an unusual protest calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, organizers said on Wednesday.

The campaign, called the Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq, is the first of its kind in the Iraq war and takes advantage of Defense Department rules allowing active duty troops to express personal opinions to members of Congress without fear of retaliation, organizers said.

"As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq," states the appeal posted on the campaign's Web site at www.appealforredress.org.

"Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home," it adds.

To be completely fair, it would have been interesting to see how many service people would have signed for support of the present action in Iraq. With any luck, there will be a support web site shortly.



I never was a ditto-head, and I never will be

Sometimes, I'm reminded of why I used to be a liberal. Not often, mind you, but I just read this:

To Rush Limbaugh on Monday, Michael J. Fox looked like a faker. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has done a series of political ads supporting candidates who favor stem cell research, including Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, who is running against Republican Michael Steele for the Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes.
"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."
What an ass. Let's face it, even if he's absolutely right, he still looks like an ass.
I've seen the ad. It's sad and painful to watch a young, vibrant guy clearly sliding downhill due to this illness. All I could think about was how hard it must be for his wife and children to watch him get worse over the years and slowly lose him.
Whatever your position on stem cell research, it's riduclous to criticize Fox for taking a stand on it, since for him the stakes are SO personal. It's fine for Rush to disagree with his position, but just leave it at that.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bruce Moving North

Bruce from mAssBackwards is moving to NH.
It is with nothing resembling even the slightest tinge of sadness or sorrow that I can tell you all tonight that I have been offered, and have accepted, a job up in the beautiful "Live Free or Die" state of New Hampshire.

In other words..

And don't any of you try to talk me out of it.

(chuckle)

One of those rarities is occurring. A sane practical person is moving to NH rather than a crack-pot liberal.


Shocking!!

Well, no, not really shocking at all. Anyone with a lick of common sense could have told them this would be the case. But now we have a ten-year study, published in the British Journal of Criminology, that says so.


HALF a billion dollars spent buying back hundreds of thousands of guns after the Port Arthur massacre had no effect on the homicide rate, says a study published in an influential British journal.
and

Politicians had assumed tighter gun laws would cut off the supply of guns to would-be criminals and that homicide rates would fall as a result, the study said. But more than 90 per cent of firearms used to commit homicide were not registered, their users were not licensed and they had been unaffected by the firearms agreement.
Let's mail a copy of this study to the Mayor of Boston.

Ah well, no worry. I'm sure the politicians will admit their mistake and immediately roll-back the ludicrous gun laws, then apologize for being so aggregiously stupid and wasting taxpayer money.

Deval Patrick Leads in Polls

I absolutely do not trust polls. Not one bit. I especially don't trust polls run by news organizations. That said... looks like the XBox-360 is fading into the distance and I'll be purchasing multiple self-defense implements that I suspect will be in short(er) supply once Deval Patrick begins to implement his radical left policies. Which, oh, by the by, don't work.

Please, pretty please with sugar on top, elect Kerry Healey.

The Stuff of Nightmares

A look at what will happen if the Dems take control of the House. Besides the economy grinding to a halt, and our government becoming mired in senseless impeachment proceedings, we have things like this to look forward to from my favorite deer-in-the-headlights woman:

Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has indicated she would like to put Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida in charge of the House Intelligence Committee. As a federal judge, he was impeached in the House by a 413-3 vote, and removed from the bench by the Senate for bribery, corruption, and perjury. Rep. Hastings would lead the oversight of America's antiterrorism policies.
Yeah, that'll be a change for the better. Can't wait.

Dems, Voter ID, and Voter Fraud

But... but... I thought it was those evil Republicans who were trying to steal elections! Democrats would never do such a bad thing! They CARE about the people!

But there's a reason that Democrat partisans are more interested in raising the specter of Jim Crow than in protecting the integrity of the voting process. And here's a clue: While the Missouri Supreme Court was preparing its decision earlier this month, the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran front-page stories about the thousands of fraudulent voter registrations submitted by Acorn, a national left-wing group financed in part by organized labor.
According to the Star, Acorn's voter registration drive generated some 35,000 applications, "but thousands of them appear to be duplicates or contain dubious data." The report went on to note that "[n]ear the top of the fishy list would be a man named Mark who apparently registered seven times over a three-day period using his mother's home address and phone number." Mom told the paper he hadn't lived there in six years.
Acorn and its affiliates have been among the most active and vocal opponents of voter ID laws in Missouri and nationwide. Now we know why.
The writer points out that:
They'd rather equate a $15 nominal fee for a birth certificate with a poll tax, which is as ridiculous as the paternalistic view that senior and minority voters are incapable of meeting simple self-identification requirements that they manage to meet in other contexts every day.

Showing ID is an incidental cost of voting, like having to buy a postage stamp for an absentee ballot, or feed the parking meter when you go to the polling booth. Poll taxes, by contrast, required a person to pay a fee every time he voted and were adopted for racially discriminatory purposes.
Good point. But right in line with the way Dems think... that "the people" are clueless morons who can't be responsible for themselves.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Lancet Iraqi Death Study Author Interview

Richard Miniter interviews Gilbert Burnham on his Iraqi death count study that was published in the Lancet.

Frankly, I'm still not convinced that this study isn't complete rubbish.

Check out Christopher Hitchens' commentary on the study at Slate.




NH Wind Farm - More NIMBY

This letter to the editor in the Nashua Telegraph is another deplorable case of NIMBY. More and more we hear the screeching about global warming and funding the islamic oil fanatics but when there is some small move to alleviate some of the energy concerns with a renewable resource the whining starts about the "view."
While you're reading this, if you glance out your window at a mountain ridge that you've grown to love and value, you should think about attending this meeting and voicing your opinion about mountain ridge protection.

In 1994, the Legislature recognized the value of its lakes and rivers, and fortunately, it enacted the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act RSA 483-B. Is it time for the state to create similar regulations to protect its mountain ridges?

Tourism is New Hampshire's greatest economic engine. When was the last time a tourist asked directions to a power plant instead of to one of New Hampshire's scenic mountain vistas?

Although communities have enacted zoning regulations to protect the mountain ridges within their borders by restricting the height of facilities proposed to be built there, sadly, others haven't recognized the threat that projects like the Lempster wind power plant are to the character of their community.
Oh yes, got to drive out the shooting ranges because their a lead hazard or the noise is unpleasant, so they zone it to death retroactively. Wind farm may make my view slightly less, let's zone that to hell as well.
Is New Hampshire's historical obsession of minimal government intervention with property rights going to force us to stand by while one of the state's most valuable assets is destroyed by wind power plant developers erecting turbines along the backbone of the state?
WHAT? You have got to be shitting me. Do you honestly think that your view of my property should justify restricting what I do with it. It is my property. You think that I should take a financial punishment so that you have a pretty view? And I'm betting you assume that you should have no accountability for this. What an ass.

You can read the rest. You'll not be surprised that this imbecile is a real estate developer. Probably be fine if he could build a couple hundred high cost condos in front of those views, but should energy independence be the aim, screw that.


Iraq Time Tables

Interesting that the Administration is making a form of timetable. Not for withdrawal mind you, but for the Iraqi government completing security benchmarks.
Press reports over the weekend said the Bush administration is drawing up a timetable, not for pulling troops out of Iraq as Democrats want, but for forcing the Iraqi government to assume a bigger role in securing the country.

The news did not impress Democrats, however.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said it appears President Bush is belatedly recognizing "that his strategy is a failure and that a change in course is needed."

Reid also questioned the timing of the report: "Given that this action comes just two weeks before the midterm elections, it appears the Administration is driven as much by the hope of heading off election-year defeats here at home as by ending the escalating violence in Iraq."

Reid said no plan would be effective without "benchmarks tied directly to the drawdown of U.S. troops." He said that's the measurement that matters most.
What a surprise. Reid doesn't like the plan. But then, did anyone expect him to like anything that the administration proposed. I'm betting that if Bush proposed immediate withdrawal Reid would say it's the wrong thing to do. It's even sillier to listen to him state that the President is just playing politics due to the coming election. You can be certain that Reid isn't playing politics.

Idiots with a Keg

How stupid can you be?
A 22-year-old New Milford, Conn., man was killed and seven others injured after a beer keg thrown into a fire barrel exploded at an outdoor party.

The blast at 3:13 a.m. Sunday was powerful enough to shake windows a mile away from the field where between 50 and 100 people in their 20s were attending an annual pig roast, the Danbury (Conn.) News-Times reported Monday.

And what did they think was going to happen? Hopefully they know who put the keg in the fire and charge them with manslaughter.

Investigators would not reveal who had thrown the barrel into the fire barrel, the newspaper said.

"Nothing I have been apprised of to this point in the investigation ... indicates a deliberate act on anyone's part," New Milford Police Chief Colin McCormack told reporters.

No one put the keg in the fire intentionally? Is that what the police Chief trying to say? I suppose it just floated over into the fire on its own.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Is Teddy-The-Tick a Traitorous Bastard?

I caught this linked from QandO, which does a nice job in proposing analysis before knowing the name of the good Senator. I hadn't heard it was Ted until I was appalled by the neutralized report, but I have to say I'm highly skeptical about this.
In his book, which came out this week, Kengor focuses on a KGB letter written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan's foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts.

The letter, dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB to Yuri Andropov, who was then General Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party.

In his letter, KGB head Viktor Chebrikov offered Andropov his interpretation of Kennedy's offer. Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) had traveled to Moscow on behalf of Kennedy to seek out a partnership with Andropov and other Soviet officials, Kengor claims in his book.

At one point after President Reagan left office, Tunney acknowledged that he had played the role of intermediary, not only for Kennedy but for other U.S. senators, Kengor said. Moreover, Tunney told the London Times that he had made 15 separate trips to Moscow.

"There's a lot more to be found here," Kengor told Cybercast News Service. "This was a shocking revelation."

It is not evident with whom Tunney actually met in Moscow. But the letter does say that Sen. Kennedy directed Tunney to reach out to "confidential contacts" so Andropov could be alerted to the senator's proposals.
I guess I'll have to wait to hear more on the evidence. This really sounds like more of the psuedo histories of Iraq that we've seen spewed about lately.

Another question, if this is true, will the comrades of Massachusetts hold him accountable? Seeing the tolerance of former page buggerers, I am doubtful.

UPDATE:
The American Thinker points to this 2003 article from Human Events on the topic.



Another Win for the Jihadis

This is bloody ridiculous. Why the hell is a US diplomat speaking to Al-Jazeera at all? Does anyone have an honest belief that his statements wouldn't be distorted? That is if it was distorted.
A senior U.S. diplomat said the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq but was now ready to talk with any group except Al-Qaida in Iraq to facilitate national reconciliation.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera television aired late Saturday, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department offered an unusually candid assessment of America's war in Iraq.

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

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

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in Moscow with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, later said that Fernandez disputes the description of his comments.

Four paragraphs reporting the statement and then the contention that it was distorted. Nice to see ABC and much of the rest of the MSM has chosen to lead the article with the truth instead of the distortion. Then the denials are given minimal reporting and they move on to how the US is going to negotiate with the Iraqi insurgency.
"Abu Mohammed", a pseudonym for the man, appeared to set near impossible conditions for the start of any talks with the Americans, including the return to service of Saddam's armed forces, the annulment of every law adopted since Saddam's ouster, the recognition of insurgent groups as the sole representatives of the Iraqi people and a timetable for a gradual, unconditional withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops in Iraq.

"The occupier has started to search for a face-saving way out. The resistance, with all its factions, is determined to continue fighting until the enemy is brought down to his knees and sits on the negotiating table or is dealt, with God's help, a humiliating defeat," he said. The man wore a suit and appeared to be in his 40s but his face was concealed.

"There is an element of the farcical in that statement," Fernandez said of Abu Mohammed's comments. "They are very removed from reality."

But the report with writing in Fernandez's statements postures a loss for the US.
Still Fernandez warned that failure to pacify the widening sectarian strife in Iraq as well as an enduring insurgency would damage the entire Middle East.

"We are witnessing failure in Iraq and that's not the failure of the United States alone but it is a disaster for the region. Failure in Iraq will be a failure for the United States but a disaster for the region."

Maybe this guy needs to be recalled. The last thing he should state in his official capacity is that we've failed. But as we've heard before, too much of the present state department has no sympathy with the present administration, and there is evidence that the diplomatic core has done things to undermine the foreign policies.

The rest of the article is futher doom and gloom about the increased violence and deaths in Iraq. They continue to ignore the context of increased troops and actions against sectartian violence and the historical increase of violence during Ramadan. But, hey, why would we expect reasonable reporting from the MSM.

Deval Patrick Gets Support From Leguer

Oh boy. This is going to leave a bit of a mark:
"I got a new district attorney taking office in Worcester as well as Deval Patrick probably as next governor. That song by Sam Cook, [sic] Change is Gonna Come, is starting to ring true," said a Sept. 17 letter apparently signed by LaGuer."
Go Kerry Healey

Deval Patrick and his workers can't organize a meeting

Lordy. I know of a cub scout pack that does it's ground work better than this. But we're supposed to take them seriously for governor? I don't think so.
Elect Kerry Healey

Friday, October 20, 2006

Text Book Defense

I love to hear these things. Caught this on Fox a few minutes ago.

A candidate for state superintendent of schools said Thursday he wants thick used textbooks placed under every student's desk so they can use them for self-defense during school shootings.

"People might think it's kind of weird, crazy," said Republican Bill Crozier of Union City, a teacher and former Air Force security officer. "It is a practical thing; it's something you can do. It might be a way to deflect those bullets until police go there."

Crozier and a group of aides produced a 10-minute video Tuesday in which they shoot math, language and telephone books with a variety of weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9mm pistol. The rifle bullet penetrated two books, including a calculus textbook, but the pistol bullet was stopped by a single book.

Crozier said the demonstration shows that a student could effectively use a textbook as protection in a school shooting.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesman was skeptical.

"He probably needs to take a look at some ballistics tests," Lt. Pete Norwood said. "There are some rifles not even Webster's Dictionary will stop."

Interesting, but I think Norwood may want to think again. Most of the school shootings were done with small caliber weapons, not high-powered rifles.

I'm skeptical of the effectiveness, just because the shooter won't likely limit himself to the book in his shots. If you combine this with running away it may help. Or combine with fighting back.
Browne recommends students and teachers “react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down.”

Response Options trains students and teachers to “lock onto the attacker’s limbs and use their body weight,” Browne said. Everyday classroom objects, such as paperbacks and pencils, can become weapons.

“We show them they can win,” he said. “The fact that someone walks into a classroom with a gun does not make them a god. Five or six seventh-grade kids and a 95-pound art teacher can basically challenge, bring down and immobilize a 200-pound man with a gun.”

Yeah, I'm skeptical on the 95-pound art teacher immobilizing the 200 pounder. I'm going to bet that won't work unless she has a gun, or a black-belt with a huge attitude. Getting a big man to back off is one thing, immobilizing him is quite another. Not saying it can't be done, just saying it's quite improbable, especially if he has bad things running through his head. If there is a bunch of people working together they may be able to pull it off. The problem comes down to having everyone react together. If too many people waver, those that react could be screwed, as in they get shot first.

It's better than laying on the floor and getting killed in any case. Columnbine proves that.