Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Iraq Context

Interesting piece on Iraq the geekwyfe sent me.

Anybody else tired of hearing about the botched hanging? I even found an online execution manual from the US military from 1947. It has drop tables and all. Though one thing that commentators never mention is just because you drop them the right distance is still no guarantee that they won't be decapitated.

They have some interesting discourse on where the sectarian motions are.
In the fullness of time, the Arab order of power will have to come to a grudging acceptance of the order sure to take hold in Baghdad. This is a region that respects the prerogatives of power. It had once resisted the coming to power of the Alawites in Syria and then learned to accommodate that "heretical" minority sect and its conquest of Damascus; the Shia path in Iraq will follow that trajectory, and its justice is infinitely greater for it is the ascendancy of a demographic majority, through the weight of numbers and the ballot box. Of all Arab lands, Iraq is the most checkered, a frontier country at the crossroads of Arabia, Turkey and Persia. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq and beyond have never accepted the diversity of that land. The "Arabism" of the place was synonymous with their own primacy. Now a binational state in all but name (Arab and Kurdish) has come into being in Iraq, and the Shia underclass have stepped forth and staked a claim commensurate with the weight of their numbers. The Sunni Arabs have recoiled from this change in their fortunes. They have all but "Persianized" the Shia of Iraq, branded them as a fifth column of the state next door. Contemporary Islamism has sharpened this feud, for to the Sunni Islamists the Shia are heretics at odds with the forbidding strictures of the Islamists' fanatical variant of the faith.
The context of the divisions in the Sunni sect are interestingly informative for those that have only listened to the MSM and believe that the Sunni insurgency is a single un-conflicted group.
The Sunni Arab regimes, it has to be noted, are not of one mind on Iraq. Curiously, the Arab state most likely to make peace with the new reality of Iraq is Saudi Arabia; those most hostile are the Jordanians, the Egyptians and the Palestinians. The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, has read the wind with accuracy; he has a Shia minority in his domain, in the oil-bearing lands of the Eastern Province, and he seems eager to cap the Wahhabi volcano in the Najdi heartland of his kingdom. There is pragmatism in that realm, and the place lives by its own coin. In contrast, Jordan and Egypt present the odd spectacle of countries heavily invested in an anti-Shia drive but with no Shia citizenry in their midst. The two regimes derive a good measure of their revenues from "strategic rent"-- the aid of foreign powers, the subsidies of Pax Americana to be exact. The threat of Shiism is a good, and lucrative, scarecrow for the rulers in Cairo and Amman. The promise of standing sentry in defense of the Sunni order is what these two regimes have to offer both America and the oil states.
This lends credence to my previous contentions that failure in Iraq will spread the conflict, and will likely cause a much larger destabilization of the middle-east. Even the Sunni countries exist peacefully side by side, how is it that a further sectarian conflict would be expected not to become inflamed.

Read the rest. It will get you further than watching the talking heads on the idiot box.

Nuclear Henge: More Stupid Security

This one is just precious. The Dems think that all nuclear power plants should have a plane net around them.
Nuclear power plants will not be required to put up defenses against terrorist attacks from the air, according to a rule enacted Monday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The commission specifically rejected ordering plants to erect so-called "beamhenge shields" -- steel I-beams and cabling -- that are designed to keep planes from hitting nuclear facilities.

Critics slammed the commission's decision, saying it "jeopardizes the safety of millions."

Isn't that cute. Wonder what the cost of such a "beamhenge shield" would cost. And putting them around over 100 reactors would be interesting.
"Nuclear power plants are inherently robust structures that our studies show provide adequate protection in a hypothetical attack by an airplane," he said in a written statement. "The NRC has also taken actions that require nuclear power plant operators to be able to manage large fires or explosions -- no matter what has caused them."

The NRC says the military and other agencies are able to protect the facility from airborne attacks.

Funny that they seem to have the perspective on where the security should be applied rather than making some ludicrous structure that would likely never be used. Not to mention the containment buildings that already exist are hardened structures for the most part. No doubt there are some older facilities with less than optimal containment buildings, but the requirement for these shields on all facilities is more about politics and less about reality.
A coalition of public interest groups and some members of Congress slammed the decision.

Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said the rule "reflects an inadequate, industry-influenced approach that sacrifices security in favor of corporate profits."

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over the NRC, said that her "initial reaction" to the NRC decision "is that the commission did not follow the direction of Congress to ensure that our nuclear power plants are protected from air or land-based terrorist threats."

"I am reviewing the final rule in detail, and will be prepared to hold the NRC's feet to the fire to ensure that our communities are adequately protected," she said.

Holding the NRC's feet to the fire is a great idea. And while she's at it we should be holding her head to the flames. Idiot.
But critics of the decision say it is far better to prevent an attack than clean up after a nuclear disaster.
Um, yeah. And its far better to place you security dollars where they will stop the most threats. This is more of the nuclear scare mentality with a complete blindness to other more exposed risks. When are they going to require containment buildings for LPG tanks and chemical manufacturing plants? A plane could easily strike one of these with devastating effect and far more actual danger than a plane striking a nuclear power plant's containment building.

And when has it been the strategy to protect things by shields rather than stopping the terrorist from obtaining the weapon? Wouldn't it be a better strategy to put the money that these shields would cost into better control of aircraft? Or using the money for better intelligence and police infrastructure to stop the bad guys before they can act? You would think that these strategies would allow you to prevent more threats than just stopping planes crashing into nuclear power plants.

Not sure what I'm thinking. I'm expecting politicians to actually think about things. God knows they just need action, no matter how much a waste of time and money those actions are.

The LATimes has further information on other parts of the requested security changes:
The nonprofit Committee to Bridge the Gap, based in Santa Cruz, proposed in 2004 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission require atomic power plants to build giant steel cages around reactor buildings to deflect impacts from large commercial planes.

The group further asked the commission to increase to at least 19, from five, the number of attackers each nuclear power plant must be prepared to defend against. The request was based on the number of terrorists who hijacked airliners on Sept. 11.
You really need to go to the Committee to Bridge the Gap's site and view the video narrated by Martin Sheen. It's so absurd I burst out laughing when it started. They must think everyone is an idiot. The cage that they show has beams that must be at least 20 feet thick. The plane crash demonstration shows the plane being stopped by the shield rather than being broken up and passing through the shield. I wasn't able to find any cost estimates on their site as to what they expect such shields to cost, but from their propaganda piece showed I expect they would cost into the tens of millions of dollars at minimum.

The film also is highly deceptive because the narrator describes the planes crashing into the reactor when in fact they are shown striking the reactor containment building.

I can't speak to the land attacks for the number of terrorists changing. I'd have to read the plans, which aren't publicly available. The contention that 19 attackers is substantially different than 5 doesn't necessarily follow. Especially when considering that the security force is in the defensive position. Without more information these contentions are not something that can be analyzed.

And of course, there is another quote about preemptive actions.
"Fire prevention is always better than firefighting," said Michele Boyd, an energy specialist with Public Citizen, a nonprofit Washington watchdog group. "Nuclear terrorism prevention is far more prudent than trying to reduce radiation exposures after the fact."
Yes, and using the money to prevent terrorist from obtaining planes or establishing infrastructure in the country would be even more intelligent. Just because you're an energy specialist doesn't mean you have a clue about security.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Overreacting to 9/11

David Bell comes out with this bit of editorial relativism that is sounding quite familiar in its arguments against the War or Terror. Once again a liberal tells us we overreacted. I'll park this dolt in the same bin with those saying it was our fault and those that say we deserved it.

He starts his argument by comparing 9/11 to the Nazi invasions of the Soviet Union.
IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that six hours after that, there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks had continued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20 million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during the war against terrorism.

It also raises several questions. Has the American reaction to the attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history provide any insight?
There you are. Since only ~3000 died during the 9/11 attacks, that didn't justify our reaction. Which makes one wonder how many would justify a reaction. Or would Bell have felt differently if it had been one of his family or in his local city that had faced the attack?

For me it really comes down to, why should the US tolerate any external attacks at all? Do we need a bench mark for a number of deaths before we can react? He doesn't address that point at all, but merely points to other historians who indicate that the US has a track record of overreacting.
Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the "Islamo-fascist" enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler's implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy. The conservative author Norman Podhoretz has gone so far as to say that we are fighting World War IV (No. III being the Cold War).

But it is no disrespect to the victims of 9/11, or to the men and women of our armed forces, to say that, by the standards of past wars, the war against terrorism has so far inflicted a very small human cost on the United States. As an instance of mass murder, the attacks were unspeakable, but they still pale in comparison with any number of military assaults on civilian targets of the recent past, from Hiroshima on down.
So the attacks on Japan were mass murder? I seem to recall the US was the one attacked, repeatedly, and they were trying to win a war. I know that winning is a novel concept for those like Bell, since obviously a big hug and a little understanding will stop an aggressor from cutting your throat. Bell also misses that the ability to wage war has changed dramatically and our own reaction to the war on terror hasn't had any fire bombings or nuclear attacks. Precision weapons do most of our killing when needed. Unfortunately, the terrorists like using attacks that maximize damage rather than minimize. A profound difference with how the US has evolved to fight.
Even if one counts our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as casualties of the war against terrorism, which brings us to about 6,500, we should remember that roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents.
Oh yes, accidents are a good comparison when placing perspective on murders performed with intent. I suppose we can stop arresting murderers in this country because the death toll each year is less than the number of accidental deaths. What logic is there with that? Murderers are intentionally taking your life, and accident is a mishap in life. We at least try to moderate the chances with accidents with seat belts or airbags. Should we not try to moderate the threats from terrorism?
Of course, the 9/11 attacks also conjured up the possibility of far deadlier attacks to come. But then, we were hardly ignorant of these threats before, as a glance at just about any thriller from the 1990s will testify. And despite the even more nightmarish fantasies of the post-9/11 era (e.g. the TV show "24's" nuclear attack on Los Angeles), Islamist terrorists have not come close to deploying weapons other than knives, guns and conventional explosives. A war it may be, but does it really deserve comparison to World War II and its 50 million dead? Not every adversary is an apocalyptic threat.
Apparently Bell's parents didn't do much to teach him what most American parents teach their children. Television drama is "make believe." It isn't reality. Islamic terrorists and drug lords on TV aren't real. The reality is generally much worse, and the good guy generally isn't there to save your pathetic ass. If his contention had any viability the US congress would be reacting to TV threats all the time. Oh, wait, they do. Searching all cargo containers for nuclear weapons is a perfect example. Funny that the terrorists used an attack method that wasn't on TV anywhere.

A further problem with that contention is that WMDs have become more prevalent in the world and the chances that they will be deployed in an attack in the US has increased with the increase in the number of Islamic terrorists. Add a threat and the opportunity to deliver and the risks in life change. But I'm certain Bell thinks we must be overreacting in our reactions to defending ourselves inside the country as well. He doesn't say it, but if he sticks to his logic about our overreaction with our offensive capabilities, then this too must be a logical conclusion.

As to "apocalyptic" threats, do we require a threat to be apocalyptic before we can react to it? Doesn't the US have some responsibility to all of it's citizens to provide some protection? You'd think by the screeching of the liberals that such a thing was a requirement when it comes to natural disasters. Wouldn't you think that would also apply to threats from international terrorism?
So why has there been such an overreaction? Unfortunately, the commentators who detect one have generally explained it in a tired, predictably ideological way: calling the United States a uniquely paranoid aggressor that always overreacts to provocation.

In a recent book, for instance, political scientist John Mueller evaluated the threat that terrorists pose to the United States and convincingly concluded that it has been, to quote his title, "Overblown." But he undercut his own argument by adding that the United States has overreacted to every threat in its recent history, including even Pearl Harbor (rather than trying to defeat Japan, he argued, we should have tried containment!).

Seeing international conflict in apocalyptic terms — viewing every threat as existential — is hardly a uniquely American habit. To a certain degree, it is a universal human one. But it is also, more specifically, a Western one, which paradoxically has its origins in one of the most optimistic periods of human history: the 18th century Enlightenment.
Mueller is another fool. So let's do a little thought test. What would the Japanese have done if the US had not reacted with military force to the attack on Pearl Harbor? Would he say that they would have left us alone or would he postulate that they would have increased their empire building against the US mainland? I'm going to guess he is on the side of the Japanese leaving us alone. And unicorns and rainbows would be a daily reality in his little world.

I'd also state that seeing world conflict as apocalyptic is overstating the facts. No doubt the politicos state it that way in most discussions, but for people in the real world it isn't so. The difference is, who wants to risk dieing because no one bothered to take simple steps to stop the wolf at the door? And if you're the one being killed, defining your death as apocalyptic has its justifications. It does indeed end your world.
During the hopeful early years of the 20th century, journalist Norman Angell's huge bestseller, "The Great Illusion," argued that wars had become too expensive to fight. Then came the unspeakable horrors of World War I. And the end of the Cold War, which seemed to promise the worldwide triumph of peace and democracy in a more stable unipolar world, has been followed by the wars in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf War and the present global upheaval. In each of these conflicts, the United States has justified the use of force by labeling its foe a new Hitler, not only in evil intentions but in potential capacity.
What should the label an extreme threat, Sister Theresa? Belittling the threat in the Middle-East is also surprisingly limited in understanding of what it could develop into. And why isn't the comparison of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism to the early actions of Hitler's Nazi Germany appropriate? Shouldn't the US view aggression by small factions and react to it as a matter of self-preservation? By Bell's standard I'd guess that WWII allies going to war with Germany over the actions in Czechoslovakia and Poland were unjustified.
Yet as the comparison with the Soviet experience should remind us, the war against terrorism has not yet been much of a war at all, let alone a war to end all wars. It is a messy, difficult, long-term struggle against exceptionally dangerous criminals who actually like nothing better than being put on the same level of historical importance as Hitler — can you imagine a better recruiting tool? To fight them effectively, we need coolness, resolve and stamina. But we also need to overcome long habit and remind ourselves that not every enemy is in fact a threat to our existence.
Criminals. Ah yes, back to the argument that reaction to the terrorists is merely a police activity. Let's ignore the state sponsorship or the devastating effects of some of their abilities. The US is overreacting because it chooses to try and protect the citizenry by preemptive action. Of course, the police analogy appears to be exactly where most liberals seem to stand on any conflict that threatens the US. Better to have someone there to document the murder and send for the cleaning crew rather than take action to prevent the murder at the start.

I'm also trying to figure out this "long habit" bit. The US has essentially always taken the first major blow before reacting. Sorry, but it is profoundly stupid to contend that reacting to the first attack with resolve is overreaction. In a fight you don't wait till the guy clubs you to the ground and is kicking your gut out before you react. You react to prevent getting damaged, either by stepping back or striking back quickly before the attacker can get an advantage. These are realities of survival.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Isn't This Bribery?

I'm sorry, but isn't this just bribery, pure and simple? Can someone explain to me why this is a good idea, and why I should feel comfortable with it?

Governor Deval Patrick, in a significant departure from former governor Mitt Romney, is contemplating a deal with Democratic legislative leaders that would grant significant pay raises to their top lieutenants in return for their support in implementing his plans for sweeping government changes, according to sources involved in the discussions.
Sigh. It's going to be a long 4 years.

Protesting with Consequences

Wonderful weekend for a protest. Especially if you decide that protesting a war and ignoring the probable consequences is your thing. Apparently it's the liberals thing, and frighteningly, it appears to be an issue for those who see getting reelected as far more important a thing than doing the right thing.
Protesters energized by fresh congressional skepticism about the Iraq war demanded a withdrawal of U.S. troops in a demonstration Saturday that drew tens of thousands and brought Jane Fonda back to the streets.
Oh, goody. Hanoi Jane is back. Wonder if we could get lucky and have her going to al-Anbar province to negotiate with the insurgents. I'm thinking there would likely be a resultant film that I would consider watching.
A sampling of celebrities, a half-dozen members of Congress and busloads of demonstrators from distant states joined in a spirited rally under a sunny sky, seeing opportunity to press their cause in a country that has turned against the war.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. John Conyers, threatened to use congressional spending power to try to stop the war. “George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing,” he said, looking out at the masses. “He can’t fire you.” Referring to Congress, the Michigan Democrat added: “He can’t fire us.

“The founders of our country gave our Congress the power of the purse because they envisioned a scenario exactly like we find ourselves in today. Now only is it in our power, it is our obligation to stop Bush.”
Appears there were was a large gathering of simpletons. Conyers and the "celebrities" topping the bill. I'm still trying to figure what generals Bush fired because they told him the war was failing? I recall generals being bypassed for not being with the strategic posture that Rumsfeld and the President wanted. Unless he's talking about Abizaid, but that doesn't strike true either, considering he was the chief of CentCom for longer than any other general and stated he wanted to retire.

As for Conyers "obligation" to stop Bush, I assume he will be accepting the RESPONSIBILITY that goes along with the aftermath. Oh, wait, no he won't, it will still be Bush's fault. Another excellent argument from the Dems. "We'll do everything to undermine the President's plans to the public and in legislation, but we haven't any part in the failure." I would like to see how they will manage that.

Of course, the MSM supporting such notions must ensure to drag out the military deaths as a speaking point.
The protests came on a day when the U.S. military reported the deaths of seven more American soldiers, raising to at least 12 the number of service members killed in the past three days.

The most recent seven death reports were all the result of roadside bombs, two in Diyala province, two in Baghdad and three others at an unspecified location north of the capital.
But go and look at the article. No mention of the likelihood that most recent attacks have come with a surge in violence in response to the notification of a military build up.
At the rally, 12-year-old Moriah Arnold stood on her toes to reach the microphone and tell the crowd: “Now we know our leaders either lied to us or hid the truth. Because of our actions, the rest of the world sees us as a bully and a liar.”

The sixth-grader from Harvard, Mass., the youngest speaker on the stage, organized a petition drive at her school against the war that has killed more than 3,000 U.S. service-members.
I always love when they push the kids on stage. No rise in understanding of reality occurs and no lessening either. But it is so very cute. Wonder if they were in little tie-dyed t-shirts with flowers in their hair. Nice bit of posturing there for those with no clue and no scruples.
“Silence is no longer an option,” Fonda declared on Saturday to cheers, addressing not only the nation’s response to Iraq but her own absence from anti-war protests for 34 years.

The actress once derided as “Hanoi Jane” by conservatives for her stance on Vietnam said she had held back from activism so as not to be a distraction for the Iraq anti-war movement, but now needed to speak out.

“Thank you so much for the courage to stand up against this mean-spirited, vengeful administration,” she said.

Fonda drew parallels to the Vietnam War, citing “blindness to realities on the ground, hubris ... thoughtlessness in our approach to rebuilding a country we’ve destroyed.” But she noted that this time, veterans, soldiers and their families increasingly and vocally are against the Iraq war.
"Mean spirited" is funny. I suppose that is typical. BDS locked in and no amount of logic will penetrate that knee-jerk emotional reaction to reality. This goes so smoothly with Schumer ranting about the President's "botching" of Iraq.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you regret your vote for the war?

SEN. SCHUMER: I don’t regret it, Tim, because I always believe in giving the commander in chief the benefit of the doubt. After...

MR. RUSSERT: But knowing what you know today?

SEN. SCHUMER: Knowing what I know today, of course. He has botched it.

MR. RUSSERT: You’d vote no?

SEN. SCHUMER: I will never—right, exactly. I would never give him—the whole point is, I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt again given how he’s botched this policy so dramatically. Even if we can limit our damage right now, the damage will be there for decades.

Fortunately, Russert had someone that was at least realistic on the discussion.
MR. RUSSERT: Michael Gerson, the logic of voting for General Petraeus but voting against the troop surge?

MR. GERSON: Yeah. I, I think ultimately it’s not responsible to say—which I think many Democrats do—this is the president’s war, he’s failed, and he has to live with the consequences. In fact, we all have to live with the consequences, moving forward here, and there’s a plan on the table, a realistic plan on the table which General Petraeus calls hard but not hopeless, and I think it needs to be given a shot.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you another poll number from The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. When the U.S. leaves Iraq, what will we leave behind? A stable government, 27 percent; no stable government, 65 percent. And look at this party breakdown: Republicans, 42 percent believe we will not leave behind a stable government; 70 percent of Independents; 82 percent of Democrats. That looks like a real erosion in Republican support for what the president promised would be a democratic shining city—country in the Middle East.

MR. GERSON: Yeah, I think there is a real Republican decay in support, there’s no question. And I think it is a last chance. And there’s a real tension for the administration here. A successful counterinsurgency strategy doesn’t have a lot of immediate results. It involves a lot of getting to know local leaders, living in the neighborhoods, drinking tea, you know, with, with local officials. So there’s—that’s the approach they’re taking. But the political situation, their timelines are much shorter, so there’s a real tension there.
I wouldn't call that overwhelming support, but at least it shows an understanding that failure has consequences. Something which the surge skeptics seem to constantly forget to address. It is very important to understand that failure in Iraq will likely erode to a sectarian civil war that will be fought in Iraq, but will be supported by the various ethnic and state sponsors. Saudi Arabia and Syria are not likely to stand by and watch fellow Sunni and Baathists being eliminated. And Iran most certainly won't be staying out of the game either. What does that do to the region that provides most of the world's energy resources? What does that do to the world economy and advancement of human rights and world stability? Well if you're an anti-war protester apparently that is irrelevant.

I even heard mention of the "containment" idea for Iraq coming out again. That is so pathetically unrealistic it's laughable. Who is going to contain the violence? Who is going to provide the bases for those doing the containing? There won't be any disinterested parties in the region. There most certainly won't be any parties that will willingly open their countries to US troops for fear of localized escalation of violence.

Now look at the motions in Iraq.
U.S.-backed Iraqi troops on Sunday attacked insurgents allegedly plotting to kill pilgrims at a major Shiite Muslim religious festival, and Iraqi officials estimated some 250 militants died in the daylong battle near Najaf.

A U.S. helicopter crashed during the fight, killing two American soldiers.

Mortar shells, meanwhile, hit the courtyard of a girls' school in a mostly Sunni Arab neighborhood of Baghdad, killing five pupils and wounding 20. U.N. officials deplored the attack, calling the apparent targeting of children "an unforgivable crime."

Two car bombs exploded within a half hour in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing 11 people and wounding 34, police Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qader said. Three ethnic groups — Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen — are in a bitter struggle for control of that oil-rich area.
Militias and insurgents are surging prior to the US arrival. Some, fortunately are caught and crushed by the military. The problem is that the announcement of the surge caused this. If this war was being fought like, say a war, then this would have been kept quiet until after it was in place. The surge would have been more effective in stopping the violence. Instead we have a further escalation of sectarian violence that will stir up the hornet's nest further just in time for the US troops to step into it. A wonderful mix of politics killing our troops. Further proof that the war by committee style doesn't work and kills people. No doubt the anti-war crowd will continue supporting our troops while their actions will cause more deaths. Yes I am blaming them and the politicians for the increased and unnecessary deaths that they have caused.

Friday, January 26, 2007

If We Win, Will the Public Know?

The g33QwyPHe emailed me this and I thought it worth comment.

The article notes that essentially the MSM and public in general are failing to even give the change in Iraqi strategy a chance to succeed.
The United States is talking itself into defeat in Iraq. Its political culture is now in a downward spiral of pessimism. In the halls of Congress, across endless newspaper columns, amid the punditocracy and on Sunday morning talk shows--all emit a Stygian gloom about America.

Yes, on any given day on some discrete issue (Prime Minister Maliki's bona fides, for example), the criticism of the American role is not without justification. But the cumulative effect of this unremitting ill wind is corrosive. We are not only on the way to talking ourselves into defeat in Iraq but into a diminished international status that may be harder to recover than the doom mob imagines. Self-criticism has its role, but profligate self-doubt can exact a price.

Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins wonders "whether the clock has already run out." To U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the new strategy is "a dead end." For the Bush troop request, presidential candidate Joe Biden predicted "overwhelming rejection." (His committee resolution to that effect yesterday passed by three votes.) Presidential candidate Chuck Hagel: "We have anarchy in Iraq. It's getting worse." And not least, Sen. John Warner this week heaved his tenured eminence against the war effort, proposing another "non-binding" resolution against more troops.
The thing I find funniest is that the nay-sayers are all calling for continuing the previous strategy of the light foot print and letting the Iraqis stand up. There are some nuances such as Hillary Clinton's desire to also defund their military if they don't meet her expectations. This sounds more like the end of the US involvement in Vietnam more and more.

The Vietnam likeness has additional problems. When the South Vietnamese did stand up and take control and were even succeeding, no one noticed. Congress ignored them and the MSM failed to report their success, especially against the North Vietnamese. This went on to the defunding of support and the eventual collapse of the south. Question is, are we going to see the same thing in Iraq?

At present the MSM absolutely refuses to report any good news or when they do they give twice the time to the deaths that day. The politics involved are no real surprise. Further increasing the deserved derision of those that actually are taking the time to look the situation and the prospects for success.

There is also an important point made about the international perception:
Our slide to a national nervous breakdown because of Iraq is not going unnoticed. Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has been visiting across the U.S. this week. "I've been pretty worried about what I've heard," Mr. Downer said in an interview. Walking on Santa Monica beach Sunday before last, Mr. Downer said he encountered a display of crosses in the sand, representing the American dead in Iraq.

"What concerns me about this," he said, "is that it's sort of an isolationist sentiment, subconsciously, not consciously, and that would be an enormous problem for the world. I hope the American people understand the importance of not retreating and thinking the world's problems aren't theirs."
Isolationism has never served the US. And with the country in the state it is today, isolationism will cause the country to start to lose its edge in the world economy. The US is the primary security agent in the world. Withdrawal of that agent will cause market instability that the US really doesn't need. Not to mention the fact that the region providing the majority of the energy needs for the world is highly unstable, the US withdrawal would further exacerbate the instability causing economic troubles. If the US had sufficient patience to see Iraq reach stability or even near stability, the world economy would greatly profit.

And for those that think the concern for economic stability or advance isn't worth the blood and money, they should be directed toward how the world improves under stable or improving economies. Violence decreases, human rights increase, stability spreads.

If the US runs away from the Iraqi situation its worse scenario could end with the Middle East in a sectarian civil war spreading to adjacent countries. It may not spread to the point of crippling the world economy, but the increased instability and increased deaths would most certainly have a major effect on the world.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Politics, Iraq and the Constitution

I think this offers a pretty good analysis of the disgusting spectacle we've been seeing on Capitol Hill these days.

Their resolution--which passed 12-9--calls for Iraqis to "reach a political settlement" leading to "reconciliation," as if anyone disagrees with that necessity. But then it declares that the way to accomplish this is to wash American hands of the Iraq effort, proposing that U.S. forces retreat to protect the borders and hunt terrorists. The logic here seems to be that if the Americans leave, Iraqis will miraculously conclude that they have must settle their differences. A kind of reverse field of dreams: If we don't come, they will build it.
The irony is that this is not all that far from the "light footprint" strategy that the Bush Administration was following last year and which these same Senators called a failure. It is precisely the inability to provide security in Baghdad that has led to greater sectarian violence, especially among Shiites victimized by Sunni car bombs. The purpose of the new Bush counterinsurgency strategy is to provide more security to the population in the hopes of making a political settlement easier.
House Republicans are little better. They blame Mr. Bush and Iraq for their loss of Congress, rather than their own ethics, earmarks and other failures. So looking ahead to 2008 they now want to distance themselves from the war they voted for, albeit also without actually having to vote against it. Thus their political brainstorm is to demand monthly "benchmarks for success" that the Bush Administration and Iraqis will have to meet.

So every 30 days, General Petraeus and his men will have to take their attention away from the Baghdad campaign and instead report to Congress on how well Iraqis and Americans are communicating with one another, among other crucial matters. Minority Leader John Boehner is even asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to create another special Congressional committee to look over the general's shoulder. It's a shame Ulysses S. Grant isn't around to tell them where to put their special committee.

Now that, I'd pay to see.

Department of Peace

Speaking of detachment from reality:

The ultimate goal of the movement, which is happening in New Hampshire and the other 49 states, is to back legislation that would create an entity to balance the Department of Defense, situate a representative in the president’s Cabinet and offer nonviolent solutions to domestic and international conflicts.

The department would not be anti-military, but would advise the armed forces about effective post-conflict peace building and support violence-prevention programs in this country, among other missions, according to The Peace Alliance, an organization leading the national campaign.
Right. advise the military on violence prevention. Funny, with all the police training that they have been getting you'd think they'd have that in hand. As for the other missions, I'd think that would fall to the Department of State.
“The way we approach confrontations and situations with aggression is wrong because it’s not working,” Boyer said. “We keep getting the same results. I really feel that we need a new approach.”
Right. Because the guys bombing our citizenry are people that can be persuaded to give peace a chance.
Formal bills calling for a peace department were introduced again in each decade from 1930 to 1960, the Peace Alliance Web site said, and the latest efforts were waged by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, in 2001, 2003 and 2005.
Kucinich wants this? Now I'm really suspicious.
“Over 80 times in the course of our history, this has come up,” she said. “It’s often been after we’ve suffered, lived through pains of war and tragedy. In honor of the people who’ve gone before us, we should recognize the value of what they originally proposed, take the banner and run with it.”
Failed 80 times means it must be a good idea. The reason we suffer the pains of war is because we value our freedom and our way of life. Another group who thinks that by being nice to the tyrants and monsters we can achieve happiness. This type of group has a historical name, Slaves.

You should always try diplomacy and the peaceful path first. But in the end "Si vis pacem, para bellum."

Hagel's Big Mouth

Anyone catch Chuck Hagel (for president) ranting at his fellow Repubs yesterday?
This is a very real, responsible addressing of the most divisive issue in this country since Vietnam. Yes, sure, it’s tough. Absolutely. And I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this.

What do you believe? What are you willing to support? What do you think? Why were you elected?

If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes. This is a tough business. But is it any tougher, us having to take a tough vote, express ourselves and have the courage to step up on what we’re asking our young men and women to do?

I don’t think so.

I'd find such an argument as he goes into much more convincing if he wasn't running for President in '08. His political grandstanding, while yelping that others are playing politics is laughable.

He then states:
But you know what, the American people have got this sorted out. They always have. They’re not conflicted with the nuances of life. They understand what’s going on. What we are proposing here — and everyone will have an opportunity to voice their opinion, present their amendments, make their case, as they should.
I couldn't agree less. A large share of the public wants to pull out of Iraq for no better reason than they hate Bush. Another group wants out because obviously Saddam was our fault and we shouldn't be trying to stabilize the middle-east because we caused the mess in the first place. Then there are the peace activists and the parties who seem to think that by giving up and walking away the terrorists now in Iraq and elsewhere will just leave us alone. All views with complete detachment from reality.

You can no doubt disagree with the President, but if you don't have some plan that will lead to success in Iraq, you are just pissing in the wind. For all the calls to withdraw or to lower the amount of security provided to the Iraqis the yelpers constantly ignore historical perspective on insurgencies. Security is what they need to allow political solutions to start to work. Without the military piece, the political piece doesn't even begin. Add in the foreign insurgence and you have instability that ensures that the various parties remain at odds.

Hagel just joined the pile of posturing jack-asses. Not that he has a snowball's chance in Hell of getting the nomination. I may be wrong, but I won't be voting for him.

Ask A Mason

I've been seeing these commercials periodically on the idiot box.

I went to the website and was surprised that it appears that you can now ask to join their organization. I thought that it was supposed to be an invitation from a Mason?


Wiretapping Statute in NH

I'm still trying to figure out what this has to do with wiretapping. It's about a foolish law that limits a private citizen's ability to use video surveillance on their own property. No wires are being tapped, not that they are really tapped any longer in any case.
Last week, Rep. Dudley Dumaine, R-Auburn, and five other sponsors introduced House Bill 97, which would add an exception to the state's wiretap law, letting property owners record their own premises, with or without warning.

"This bill creates an exception to the violation of privacy and wiretapping and eavesdropping statutes to allow any person to conduct, without notice, audio or video recordings, or both, on his or her private property and curtilage for security purposes," the bill's description states.

"It's just common sense," Dumaine said. "I can't picture anybody not believing that it's okay to protect your property."

Dumaine crafted his bill so that property owners would no longer need to post warnings of recording on the premises, as has become common in stores that use video for anti-theft purposes. Warnings only serve to invite criminals to steal the recording equipment, or find other ways to subvert it, Dumaine said.

Dumaine said he also plans to sponsor a bill to make it legal to make video and audio recordings of people in public settings, where they have no reasonable expectation of privacy. That bill was motivated by a case in the Keene area, in which a motorist was charged for turning on a tape recorder after being pulled over by police, Dumaine said.

I think Dumaine goes overboard with the public recording. I see no reasonable reason for allowing secret recordings in public. There could be a case for citizens documenting crime or police misconduct. Though making a widespread allowance strikes me as setting up for abuse.

Of course, the NHACLU is against it. Shock.
Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, urged the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee not to allow audio recordings. Ebel said videotaping the person's property was less intrusive.

State law requires the knowledge and consent of both parties when an audio recording is made, not just the one doing the taping, she said. If lawmakers make an exception, the eavesdropping could be used as evidence without all the parties knowing they were being recorded, she said.

Sorry, that doesn't follow. The legislation is discussing the use on private property. Curtailing one's ability to record criminal action limits the ability of the owner to seek restitution or legal action. The original bill does nothing but restrict the ability of the property owner from using protections that governments and LEO use for themselves. That double standard is unreasonable.

The legislation will no doubt need to be carefully crafted to ensure rental owners aren't allowed to abuse recording in units where privacy is assumed by the tenant. There will also have to be clear injunctions against the recording of other peoples property to prevent abuses by the peeping-tom neighbor.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bloomberg's Gun Grabber's Meet

Why isn't this guy in jail yet? Honestly, why hasn't the BATFE at least told the public why it hasn't taken any action. You'd think there would have been enough evidence of the activity to have any of the rest of the citizenry arrested for like actions in the Straw Purchases that he pulled. Why the glacial rate of activity on this?
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 — Mayors from some of the nation’s largest cities gathered on Tuesday to urge Congress to crack down on the trade of illegal firearms. But the mayors’ efforts, led by Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Thomas M. Menino of Boston, generated a small protest by advocates for gun owners and dealers.

At a daylong conference here, the coalition, known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns, vowed to press for federal legislation to give cities greater access to trace data, which law enforcement authorities can use to determine the origin of guns involved in crimes. A trace tracks the weapon’s sales history, from manufacturer to distributor to retailer to buyer.

An appropriations provision passed each year since 2003 has banned the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from releasing gun-trace data, except to police officials and prosecutors investigating or prosecuting a crime. The provision prevents the data from being used in civil lawsuits against gun dealers or manufacturers.

With Congress now under the control of Democrats, who are generally more favorable to gun control, the provision may be rescinded this year. To advance that goal, along with other measures to stem the flow of illegal guns, the mayors announced the creation of a bipartisan task force of four House members concerned about illegal guns.
Of course they had to beat the gun-trace database issue. Note that there isn't any mention of how such a system could, and likely would be abused by those with an anti-gun agenda. Seeing that civil lawsuits are the only method that appears to be interesting to these Mayors for actually stopping gun crime, since god knows that actually enforcing the law isn't good enough. The obvious thing to do is to bring civil litigation against anybody who at any time may have legally owned the gun that was used in a crime.

And now they have Congress jumping on board with more committees. I'm certain that will come up with another champion of anti-gun legislation like the '94 ban on guns that look like assault weapons.
The two Democrats on the task force are Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the new chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee. The Republicans are Representatives Peter T. King of New York and Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois.

There were signs of opposition to the mayors’ efforts. The New York Sun reported last week that Jared D. Fuhriman of Idaho Falls, Idaho, became the first mayor to withdraw from the coalition, saying he thought its proposals were going too far.
Bi-partisan indeed. No doubt there will never be any voice for those who understand the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

Here's the discussion on the straw purchases. It's rather lame.
As the conference proceeded at the Cannon House Office Building, four gun-rights groups held a news conference at the Capital Hilton downtown to denounce Mr. Bloomberg, whom they called “the Manhattan gun grabber.”

They questioned the propriety and legality of the Bloomberg administration’s use of private investigators to conduct undercover sting operations. The operations have documented so-called straw purchases, in which proxies sign the paperwork on behalf of buyers who would not be eligible to buy a gun or pass required background checks. Such operations have been the basis for civil lawsuits by the city against dealers.

“This is the kind of slapdash, Keystone Kop behavior that the mayor has been engaging in, and indeed by sending non-law-enforcement people to do these attempted sting operations, he is violating the law,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America.

Note that there isn't any discussion of the BATFE investigation. Convenient omission?
At the conference, Mr. Bloomberg maintained that the coalition respected the Second Amendment and was not trying to curb gun rights. “That’s ideological nonsense, and we’ve just got to move past it,” he said of the arguments raised by critics. “Respecting the rights of gun owners while cracking down on illegal guns are completely compatible goals.”
Right. Anyone else believe that statement? You respect the 2nd Amendment only to your interpretation and that is clearly that it's a collective right not an individual right. This is evident through the gun laws that these mayors have in their cities. Just because they state that they are solely looking to control illegal guns doesn't make up any ground on the fact that these are among the worst gun grabbers in the country. But they respect your rights. Sure.

As to the compatibility of his goals, I'm thinking his actions have proven that he really doesn't believe what he is stating. New York has some of the most restrictive gun prohibitions in the country and it takes a near act of god to get a carry permit for self-defense. Well, unless your Chuck Schumer.

Then for some reason they pop out a quote from that pseudo gun rights group, the American Hunters and Shooters Association.
Ray Schoenke, the president of the American Hunters and Shooters Association, a small gun-rights group that describes itself as an alternative to the National Rifle Association, addressed the mayors and said that he thought many of their ideas were reasonable.

“It is time to begin rebuilding respect for our hunting and shooting heritage, which for the last 30 years has been tarnished by gun-rights extremists,” Mr. Schoenke said.
I'm wondering if they were with the GOA and the other gun rights groups or was their quote stitched in after the fact to make it appear they were a gun rights group. You can recall that they are the gun rights group that doesn't appear to have any support for the right of self-defense. Recall this post where they use the logic that a gun in the house is more often used against the owner?
There are certain factors that weigh heavily against keeping a gun in the home for self-protection. One of the most widely quoted statements about guns is that a firearm kept in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a family member than an intruder. This comes from the Journal of Medicine in 1986, following a six-year review of gunshot deaths in Seattle, Washington, conducted by Dr. Arthur Kellermann and others. The validity of this study in determining the value and risk of firearms for home protection has been questioned. The Kellermann study focused only on defensive gun uses where the criminal intruder was shot and killed. Instances in which intruders or assailants were wounded or frightened away were not included.
The motives of this group are so exceptionally suspect that most gun bloggers can only pay them a sarcastic remark with regards to their activities.

With the recent Democratic wave, I'm sure that there will be plenty of legislation to help out these mayors. The question is, is there enough of us out there to stop them?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

RFID Tattos

Caught this linked at Schneier. I agree with his statement that this is just stupid.
Somark Innovations announced this week that it successfully tested biocompatible RFID ink, which can be read through animal hairs. The passive RFID technology could be used to identify and track cows to reduce financial losses from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) scares. Somark, which formed in 2005, is located at the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis. The company is raising Series A equity financing and plans to license the technology to secondary markets, which could include laboratory animals, dogs, cats, prime cuts of meat, and military personnel.
Yep, military personnel. Tell me that this company isn't completely idiotic.
The ink also could be used to track and rescue soldiers, Pydynowski said.

"It could help identify friends or foes, prevent friendly fire, and help save soldiers' lives," he said. "It's a very scary proposition when you're dealing with humans, but with military personnel, we're talking about saving soldiers' lives and it may be something worthwhile."
Not thinking about how militaries work. Soldiers don't want a means to be tracked. If their own side can track them, so can the enemy. Might as well wear a big loud speaker broadcasting that you're there.

The best comes with comments at Schneier, that point out that it can only be read from 4 feet away.
If it's used to identify friend or foe, you're f**cked.

The range is 4 feet, as mentioned in the article.

Even if that range gets doubled or tripled with sensitive receivers or other technological improvements, you're still f**cked if your foe gets within 12 feet of you.

Even increased by an order of magnitude, 40 feet, how useful is it really going to be as an IFF system? Put 2 foes in a car, traveling at a mere 25 MPH, and 40 feet is still in the "You are dead" zone.

Maybe the person who proposed this should consider getting another job. One that requires less intelligence.

2nd Amendment Ratings for '08 Presidential Hopefuls

From the Volokh Conspiracy. Dave Kopel does a great service here.
Top tier. Nearly perfect pro-Second Amendment records: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas). Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.). Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-Vir.). Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.).

Very good. Not a perfect record, but still a very positive one overall. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.). Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.). Former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-Wisc.). Former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

Mixed: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)(mostly positive record, except for lead sponsorship of two terrible bills: McCain-Lieberman, a badly-written bill which would have given the BATFE the authority to administratively eliminate any or all gun shows, and McCain-Feingold, the campaign speech restriction law which significantly affects right-to-arms groups).

Poor: Former Gov. George Pataki (R-N.Y.). Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). As noted by, inter alia, the Boston Globe, Romney's flip-flops on guns are part of a larger record of inconsistency.

Almost perfect anti-Second Amendment record: Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.). Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Former Vice-President Al Gore (in Congress, a nearly perfect pro-gun record until 1989, when he switched sides). Al Sharpton (D-N.Y.).

Record of anti-Second Amendment leadership: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)(very effective in pushing gun control during his tenure as Judiciary Committee chairman). Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa). Former Mayor Rudy Guliani (R-N.Y.)(even worse than his predecessor, Democrat David Dinkins; indeed, based on his record, arguably worse than Sen. Clinton).

I don't know: Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska). He has been out of Congress for 25 years, and I don't know his voting record from his 1969-81 Senate terms. Given that he represented Alaska, and that he was (and is) a fervent populist, I would be surprised if he had a record of support for gun control.

In the comments, please focus on information to make these rankings more precise, rather than arguing the pro/con merits of the Second Amendment or gun control.
Sadly, I can't stand anyone on the list. All the Repugs leave a bad taste overall and Bill Richardson is about the only Dem that doesn't make me retch. And he's no great shakes.

The comments are interesting and long. Sadly, a lot of them are of little value since the speakers obviously don't have a clue about what has been happening in the Gun-rights world or they are clearly anti-gun.

Clinton Just Not Getting IT

Hillary obviously just doesn't get it. Look at this:

Congressional criticism of President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq threatens to erode the morale of American soldiers and Marines serving there, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., implied Tuesday at a Senate confirmation hearing for Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, Bush's choice to be the new commander in Iraq.

McCain’s raising of the morale question was quickly disputed by one of his potential 2008 presidential rivals, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

McCain and Clinton may get a chance to put their clashing ideas to the test of the electorate in the 2008 presidential election: they are leading contender for their respective party’s nominations.

McCain raised the morale issue in a question he posed to Petraeus, saying, “Suppose that we send additional troops and we tell those troops, ‘we support you, but we are convinced you cannot accomplish your mission… we do not support the mission we are sending you on’? What effect does that have on morale of the troops?”

“It would not be a beneficial effect, sir,” Petraeus answered.

Clinton disagreed with both McCain and Petraeus on the morale issue.

Clinton disputes morale effect
“Our troops are on the Internet constantly; they know very well there’s a debate going on in this country,” Clinton told reporters after she left the Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing. “From the troops I’ve spoken with, a lot of them share many of the concerns that I and others have.”

I completely disagree with her rather weak point. They may have concerns, but they want to succeed. The discussion on limiting or stopping funding doesn't help their mind set. Let's keep it simple, how many of their fellow soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen have died and now they are being told that the US should bail and ensure that their deaths were completely in vain. Success will at least make the sacrifice partially justified.

Her argument is essentially irrelevant to the discussion of morale.

UPDATE: I guess I'm really late on this one. Fox News is running this topic now. Sheesh.

For the Want of Civil Response

Wonder if CAIR is going to help blame this on the unreasonable American public.

MILWAUKEE -- An American GI in Iraq who e-mailed a Wisconsin company to ask for a shipment of some floor mats got a brusque reply: "We would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq."

The two-line e-mail response quickly circulated on the Internet and has led to threats against the Muslim-owned business and demands for a boycott.

Bargain Suppliers, an online retailer based in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, shut down its Web site Monday and fired the unidentified employee who sent the e-mail, WTMJ-TV reported.

Co-owner Faisal Khetani, a Muslim from Pakistan, has received threatening calls, the TV station said. An answering machine at a number listed for the business said the mailbox was full and would not accept a message Tuesday.

A civil response would have been fine. But that response is just amazing. No doubt this company is going to pay for the actions of this idiot. Too bad there are a lot of people going overboard with the threats though.

The article also points out that this was a soldier purchasing outside of the military purchase system. I'm constantly surprised to hear soldiers buying stuff like this out of pocket.

Chinese Satellite Killer

The Chinese confirm that they have tested the weapon. I don't suppose it is an especially egregious act, since the US tested one previously, and no doubt the Russians did as well. It is aggravating though that they are testing in an environment that is especially fragile with respect to the debris that they caused.

China said on Tuesday that it held an anti-satellite test, confirming earlier reports from Washington, and stressed that it opposed any arms race in space and did not pose a threat.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference that the government had informed the United States of the test.

"What needs to be stressed is that China has always advocated the peaceful use of space, opposes the weaponisation of space and an arms races in space," Liu said. "China has never participated and will never participate in any arms race in outer space.

Not participating? Funny, looks like they are. Why else would they have built a satellite killer?
China had repeatedly refused to publicly say whether it knocked one its own aging satellites out of the skies with a missile on January 11 in what Washington officials criticised as a provocative escalation of military competition.

On Monday, a State Department spokesman said in Washington that Chinese officials had acknowledged the test when they met U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill in Beijing over the weekend.

Asked about China's delay in reporting the test, Liu said: "China has nothing to hide. After various parties expressed concern we explained this test in outer space to them."

Outer space? Looks like near Earth orbit to me. Not sure why everyone is all upset. China has as much right to participate in space weapons as anyone. And why does the State Department think China has a responsibility to report to them anything at all? The delay statement seems to indicate that they were obligated to explain, which is completely false.

It may be an action that is risky to other people's assets, but there is very little doubt they have the right to develop weapons for their own defense. The US has stated it will defend it's own assets and an assumption that others aren't allow similar protections is rather foolish.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Net Neutrality Redux

Legislation is starting again. The context at the start of this article is truly interesting.
The current Internet supports many popular and valuable services. But experts agree that an updated Internet could offer a wide range of new and improved services, including better security against viruses, worms, denial-of-service attacks and zombie computers; services that require high levels of reliability, such as medical monitoring; and those that cannot tolerate network delays, such as voice and streaming video. To provide these services, both the architecture of the Internet and the business models through which services are delivered will probably have to change.
I love the contention that the service providers would in reality take on any of these protections. They have an interest to stop bad acting systems and DoS attacks, because they cut into their bottom dollar. As for the real time monitoring, let's be realistic. Medical monitoring will never be a concern of the service providers, because frankly, they'll never accept the liability that would go with it. Streaming video and Voice are both things that they want because they can make more money on the services with limited liability.
Network neutrality is supposed to promote continuing Internet innovation by restricting the ability of network owners to give certain traffic priority based on the content or application being carried or on the sender's willingness to pay. The problem is that these restrictions would prohibit practices that could increase the value of the Internet for customers.

Traffic management is a prime example. When traffic surges beyond the ability of the network to carry it, something is going to be delayed. When choosing what gets delayed, it makes sense to allow a network to favor traffic from, say, a patient's heart monitor over traffic delivering a music download. It also makes sense to allow network operators to restrict traffic that is downright harmful, such as viruses, worms and spam.

Right. And the network provider is going to assume the liability associated with deciding what service deserves what bandwidth? Not likely. They'll be deciding based on who ponies up the most cash. Network operators already have the right to restrict, nay stop, harmful traffic types. It's disingenuous to try and posture that as a drawback on net neutrality. By stopping problem traffic, they assure better quality of service to those that are paying.
Pricing raises similar issues. To date, Internet pricing has been relatively simple. Based on experience in similar markets, we expect that, if left alone, pricing and service models will probably evolve. For example, new services with guaranteed delivery quality might emerge to support applications such as medical monitoring that require higher levels of reliability than the current Internet can guarantee. Suppliers could be expected to charge higher prices for these premium services.

Blocking premium pricing in the name of neutrality might have the unintended effect of blocking the premium services from which customers would benefit. No one would propose that the U.S. Postal Service be prohibited from offering Express Mail because a "fast lane" mail service is "undemocratic." Yet some current proposals would do exactly this for Internet services.

This shows an extreme lack of understanding of how the internet actually works. Their post office analogy is completely false. In fact, most Internet traffic that passes over long distances has to pass through multiple service providers. By their post office analogy, it would be like demanding that the USPS pass priority mail to UPS for handling and demanding that they do so with no additional costs. In fact the USPS charges you for priority mail just as the service provider charges you for bandwidth. Priority mail costs more because you are using more bandwidth.

That isn't what net neutrality is trying to restrain. Large use services, such as google, would be held to providing payment to every service provider, for access to the core network, irrespective of the source of the network traffic. The reason this doesn't work now is because the network providers refuse to give priority access to traffic from other service providers over their own local traffic. There is a method called QoS for marking high priority traffic, they just choose not to control the traffic that is marked for high priority. And even with allowances for the "new Internet" there isn't any assurance that they would do this either.

The present payment scheme for the Internet is based on a bandwidth scheme. The change would allow services providers to charge everyone multiple times for access through their section of the core. So google would have to pay a higher price for access because they are popular, rather than paying for a level of bandwidth that their local service provider is paid to provide, and that that local provider pays adjacent providers for access to the core.

The issue with congestion won't be solved by keeping the same sized pipes and giving better access to those that pay the most. It will be solved by building bigger pipes and charging for the increased access. The nay-sayers continue to say that the core providers haven't any reason to increase bandwidth, which is fascinating, since they can most certainly charge more for it. Instead they propose to leave the core bandwidth the same and then charge users more for priority access.

Makes you wonder how many times the advocates of the change believe a core service provider should be allowed to charge for the use of the same bandwidth? Say uses X amount of bandwidth now. With the change allowing to charge for better service, they would have to pay the same amount for the bandwidth and then more based on getting good service during times of contention for core bandwidth. So in reality they don't really get the bandwidth they pay for unless they pay for a quality factor as well.

Wonderful logic that.

Nuclear Resurgence?

I've seen a few of these articles and Op-Eds floating around lately. I'm not convinced that there is going to be an extensive increase in nuclear power. Most of the works being considered appear to be continuing around the older technology and I'm seriously doubtful that any of the newer technologies will ever be considered. However, it is interesting to see that there are some former anti-nuclear voices changing sides.
Buoyed by billions of dollars in subsidies pushed through Congress by the Bush administration, the U.S. nuclear power industry says 2007 is the year its plans for a “renaissance” will reach critical mass.

“We see a wave,” said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman with the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s chief lobbying arm, pointing to letters of intent by a dozen firms to seek licenses for as many as 31 new nuclear power plants. “We definitely believe it’s going to be a whole new era of new plant construction in this country.”

Kerekes credits improvements in plant design and efficiency and the ability to operate without spewing carbon into the air — a key advantage amid mounting concern about global warming — as chief reasons for the resurgence.

I'm not fond of the subsidies. I think there are far more useful places to place that money, including storage and reprocessing facilities for the spent fuel. Note that no fuel reprocessing occurs in this country, and it's a vast waste of fuel. Much of that fuel has cooled to the point where reprocessing would be much easier. But instead, the US is looking just to bury it. The waste of that resource is appalling and the screaching about that waste is even worse. If reprocessed there would be less waste, and that waste for the most part would be substantially shorter lived radioactively.
"If this were a renaissance, you wouldn’t need to be enticing giant corporations with subsidies in order to get them to build reactors they claim are economically viable,” said Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst for the environmental group Greenpeace, a staunch foe of nuclear energy.
Greenpeace, the foe of anything human is not who I would have gone to for a comment. What alternative technology which is capable of running our industries, does Greenpeace support? I'm betting none. Solar and wind won't do it, and I'm betting they'd stand against any scaling of that technology to the level that would support the present economy.

They of course have the usual litany of statements about Chernobyl and TMI. No real discussion of scope or similarity of the plants or the problems and the related solutions. Just that the industry has improved its safety procedures. Then for some reason the article goes into a long tirade on the Cheney Energy commission. Sadly the article spends most of its time wandering around the politics or the issue rather than the viability or comparative use in a world with a strong need to move away from fossil fuels.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fairness Doctrine, Ensuring Bias Gets Fair Time

Frankly, the Fairness Doctrine is up there with one of the more moronic governmental controls ever considered.
Reaching new levels of hysteria, Rep. Maurice Hinchey said the survival of America was itself at stake because “neo-fascist” and “neo-con” talk-show hosts led by Rush Limbaugh had facilitated the “illegal” war in Iraq and were complicit in President Bush’s repeated violations of the Constitution, such as by detaining terrorists. He warned that the “right-wing oriented media” were now preparing the way for Bush to wage war on Iran and Syria.

His answer, a bill titled the “Media Ownership Reform Act,” would reinstate the federal fairness doctrine and authorize bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to monitor and alter the content of radio and television programs.

Hinchey, chairman of the “Future of American Media Caucus” in the House, was introduced as the new chairman of a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the FCC. For Hinchey and the vast majority at the conference, there was a pressing need for more, not less, regulation of what they call the “corporate media.”

How absolutely pathetic.

Couple of questions. Who decides what is fair? The MSM has certainly proved their inability to put forward fair reporting. Can we honestly expect that they will change? Can we expect that the liberal bias will get their feet held to the fire? Will PBS get reined in?

But, it's all about the Conservative bias. Because, well you know, the liberal media isn't biased. Right?

The Puffington Host has an entry by Charlie Reina, which is very unconvincing.

QandO have a couple of entries on the topic, which I frankly find more convincing.

And no real surprise, Dennis Kucinich is leading the knee-jerkers and tin-foil set into battle on this topic.

Global Warming Committee

Not sure why they need another committee. Frankly, I think there are far too many as it is.

And, their choice of chairman is not surprising. Another proud knee-jerker from the People's Republic of Massachusetts.
Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden is in the middle of a high-profile battle between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some of the chamber's most powerful committee chairmen, with Pelosi turning to Markey to head a newly created committee on climate change that will focus on curbing the production of greenhouse gases.

The creation of a special committee to confront global warming signals a desire by Pelosi to control greenhouse gases by imposing tougher regulations on auto emissions and on industries that deplete the ozone. The move follows six years in which President Bush and the Republican-led Congress did little to address global warming.
Fascinating. Especially with the yelping about the Administrations abuse of scientific data. Funny that they would choose someone who seems to have the same problem, just bent in the opposite direction.
Dingell had announced hearings on global warming before Pelosi moved to create the new committee, though environmentalists regard him with deep skepticism because of his ties to the auto industry. His wife, Deborah, is a top lobbyist for General Motors.

"The chairman has for many years been strongly opposed to increases in [fuel-economy] standards, though there is pretty clearly a majority in the Democratic caucus who favor higher standards," said Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

Clapp called it a "gutsy move" by Pelosi to try to overcome the "balkanized" committee process by putting Markey in charge of shepherding a vital policy area.

If there was an issue with Dingell's integrity on being fair in hearings, why was he given a chairmanship? Well, I suppose you could look at it as Pelosi fixing the problem, by adding another redundant committee to further confuse the matter.
In a nod to Dingell and other committee chairman, Pelosi agreed that the new committee would not have the power to draft legislation, and instead gave it purely oversight and investigatory functions. That means any concepts Markey and his colleagues want to pursue as bills must navigate the regular House committees, including, in some cases, Dingell's.
Can't draft legislation? Then why bother? And if they find something in their oversight, which committee will be doing the legislation? Dingells?

Along these lines, you catch the Weather Channel's own political correctness director?
A leading climatologist on the Weather Channel in the United States has caused a squall in the industry by arguing that any weather forecaster who dares publicly to question the notion that global warming is a manmade phenomenon should be stripped of their professional certification.

The call was made by Heidi Cullen, host of a weekly global warming programme on the cable network called The Climate Code, and coincides with a stretch of severely off-kilter weather across the US this winter and moves by Democrats to draft strict new legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, Ms Cullen is suggesting that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) revokes the "seal of approval" that it normally extends to broadcast forecasters in the US in cases where they have expressed scepticism about man's role in pushing up planetary temperatures.

"It's like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather," she wrote in her internet blog. "It's not a political statement... it's just an incorrect statement."

Ms Cullen is not alone in trying to marginalise doubters, who mostly argue that recent rises in temperatures are caused by normal cyclical weather patterns. They were described as "global warming deniers" by former vice-president Al Gore in his recent film An Inconvenient Truth.

Nice to see that the intolerance to opposing theory is reaching a crescendo. Think Ms. Cullen would have condemned Galileo? I do. This level of intolerance is foolish in the extreme. No one is forcing you to believe their theory, but unless you can scientifically destroy that theory, you should have no say at all on their accreditation. Seeing that the loony left has closed their minds to any alternative theory, looks like they have nothing to say on the President's poor activities with regard to scientific information.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Discussing The End of the World

Interesting post. It's an email exchange about discussing survival preparedness with those who don't want to be prepared. Seems this guy ran into a bunch that thought he was an ogre because he basically told them he wouldn't save their asses if the SHTF.
On Christmas Eve I went to a party where the four liberal families I previously discussed were present, and followed your advice. After bringing up the emergency kit issue again, lots of people complained and teased me (in a good natured way) but as expected, the ”we’ll just come to your house” meme reared its ugly head. I stated, as you suggested, that I would *NOT* help them in an emergency unless they first took measures to help themselves. This did not go over well. Much argument followed. The net result:

1) I am no longer welcome at any of the four homes (no great loss).

2) I am now morally equivalent to Hitler and George Bush.

3) One woman called me a potential child molester (I’m not sure of the logic, but it had something to do with not helping her starving kiddies when the world goes whacky).

4) Republicans are evil, therefore, I am evil (being a Libertarian, this seemed a bit unfair, but the finer points of political philosophy were lost in the debate).

5) Another woman (a hardcore feminist) screamed “I’ll call the police!! Hoarding in an emergency is just wrong. You won’t get away with it.”


I don't typically discuss this type of thing with anyone but those that are already prepared at some level. Personally, I wouldn't warn them to stay away, I'd just shoot. Those who know I'd support them, know that I wouldn't shoot them. That list is very very short.

I've had similar conversations as described, but I usually don't push people to be prepared. Frankly, I'm not into discussing it because you are then identified as being prepared and then are in the back of someone's mind as being the place to go for help. In such a bad situation, I doubt I'd be much help, mainly because I would be too busy protecting myself. I also analyze who is valuable in a survival situation, and most people I know are major deficits.

I find the hoarding statement fascinating. Having assets prior to an incident doesn't make you a hoarder. Gathering excessive assets after an incident is. I suppose by the discussion above I'd be a monster. Better a live monster that a bloated corpse.

More Talk on Running Out on Iraq

Clinton is finally standing on Iraq, and is standing, as expected in the wrong place.
Newly returned from a fact-finding trip to Iraq and under growing pressure from antiwar Democrats as she weighs entering the 2008 presidential race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called Wednesday for a cap on the number of U.S. troops stationed in the war zone.

The New York senator's proposal to freeze troop levels faces dubious prospects in a divided Congress and was quickly spurned by the White House. But the political urge to weigh in against President Bush's "surge" of military personnel to Iraq appeared irresistible.

Even as Clinton unveiled her plan, two of her possible rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination — Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut — announced their own troop cap proposals.

Accusing the Bush administration of a "failed strategy" in Iraq, Clinton said she wanted to freeze the number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq as of Jan. 1, before Bush announced a planned increase of 21,500 troops to help patrol strife-racked Baghdad and Al Anbar province.

"The president is sending mixed signals. We need to change course," Clinton said.
And since the LATimes can't complete the quote, she went on to state that there should be goals set that if not met will mean further withdrawal of troops. That's the way to provide security, remove those who are providing it. Brilliant. Would never have thought of that.

I love the thought of a cap. Nothing like handicapping the Generals who have to make action plans based on reality not on politics. But hey, I'll throw in a Vietnam comparison, since everyone else does. Didn't we learn that you don't let politicians decide how to fight? Especially in committees like the Congress always appears to want to do. Whether your cutting funding or legislating troop caps, your forcing a narrow course for those that actually have to do the job.

Hillary also thinks the troops should go to Afghanistan.
Senator Clinton, who was on her third trip to Iraq, said she was against increasing US troops there.

"I am opposed to this escalation," Mrs Clinton told CBS News.

"I am for putting more troops in Afghanistan," she said, describing Afghanistan as one of the "great missed opportunities".

US forces should be boosted there before an expected spring offensive by the Taleban, she said.
Clever, I'd not have thought of taking troops from a highly unstable area and mass them in a country that is fairly well stabilized by NATO. Not that the collapse of Iraq would cause an increase in the threats in the middle-east and elsewhere. But let's do this, since it's such a great strategy to decrease the threats from terrorism. No doubt the terrorists won't move into a fractured Iraq and use it as a further training space for their fight against us. Considering there won't be any troops there to ferret them out and destroy them, seems like a good way to ensure failure.

I also have to love this article with it's Albright analysis.
Meanwhile Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state under Democratic President Bill Clinton, described the Bush strategy as less a statement of policy than a prayer.

"It was not about reality. It was about hope. But hope is not a strategy. Iraqis will continue to act in their own best interests as they perceive them and we must act in ours," she told a hearing at the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
Right. I always seek out a diplomat when looking for a solution to a security issue. Her analysis is so clueless that it's nearly fascinating. That statement is the pinnacle of not saying anything of substance while damning the strategy. One wonders if her analysis of the economic and political strategy are nearly as astute.

There also is the renewed yells for partitioning of Iraq. I love the call for an "orderly" partitioning. As if there would be any chance of that occurring. The Iranians are discussing this. Look at this article. I won't speak to the veracity of the source, but it is amusing.
The details of President Bush's plan to partition Iraq and reward Iran can be found at In brief, President Bush's plan would dissolve Baghdad's central government, aside from a residual administrative entity that would regulate Iraq's oil sector, most likely on a temporary basis. The Bush Plan would also permit the establishment of an independent Kurdistan, Shiastan, and Sunnistan in place of the Baghdad government. Each new state would have its own militia. The US would withdraw most of its troops in Iraq to Kurdistan to deter Turkey from intervention against Kurdish independence.

The consequences of President Bush's Iraq partition plan will all be negative. For this reason Bush's plan is strongly opposed by all of Iraq's neighbors, aside from Iran.
Anyone else hear of this plan? At least they are realistic about the results of such a plan. You can depend on huge amounts of sectarian and ethnic cleansing and an escalation in violence. The results may be more stable, but the payment for that stability will me monstrous.