Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Iraq Moving Forward

Frederick Kagan at the Weekly Standard.
America has won an important battle in the war on terror. We turned an imminent victory for Al Qaeda In Iraq into a humiliating defeat for them and thereby created an opportunity for further progress not only in Iraq, but also in the global struggle. In the past five months, terrorist operations in and around Baghdad have dropped by 59 percent. Car bomb deaths are down by 81 percent. Casualties from enemy attacks dropped 77 percent. And violence during the just-completed season of Ramadan--traditionally a peak of terrorist attacks--was the lowest in three years.

Winning a battle is not the same as winning a war. Our commanders and soldiers are continuing the fight to ensure that al Qaeda does not recover even as they turn their attention to the next battle: against Shia militias sponsored by Iran. Beyond Iraq, battles in Afghanistan and elsewhere demand our attention. But let us properly take stock of what has been accomplished.

I'm of the opinion that it is still to early to be declaring victory with regards to the insurgency. It does appear that Al-Qaeda miscalculated on how to run the insurgency in Iraq. Pretty much appears to be a theme with regards to all the players on the field.
Al Qaeda leaders seem aware of their defeat. General Ray Odierno noted in a recent briefing that some of al Qaeda's foreign leaders have begun to flee Iraq. Documents recovered from a senior Al Qaeda In Iraq leader, Abu Usama al-Tunisi, portray a movement that has lost the initiative and is steadily losing its last places to hide. According to Brigadier General Joseph Anderson, chief of staff for the multinational coalition in Iraq, al-Tunisi wrote that "he is surrounded, communications have been cut, and he is desperate for help."
This is a little over stated. No doubt Al Qaeda is substantially marginalized at this point. The problem with network based groups like Al Qaeda is that they can reappear after being completely demolished. The ability for cells to spontaneously develop is fairly well understood. The good thing though is that there doesn't appear to be many regions that continue to view supporting Al Qaeda as a good idea. Frankly, I never would have believed a year ago that Anbar province would be at the level of stability it is today.

Interesting analysis on why Al Qaeda is loosing Anbar.
Al Qaeda excesses in Anbar Province and elsewhere had already begun to generate local resentment, but those local movements could not advance without our help. The takfiris--as the Iraqis call the sectarian extremists of al Qaeda--brutally murdered and tortured any local Sunni leaders who dared to speak against them, until American troops began to work to clear the terrorist strongholds in Ramadi in late 2006. But there were not enough U.S. forces in Anbar to complete even that task, let alone to protect local populations throughout the province and in the Sunni areas of Iraq. The surge of forces into Anbar and the Baghdad belts allowed American troops to complete the clearing of Ramadi and to clear Falluja and other takfiri strongholds.
Pretty much reads like most historical insurgencies that failed. Or historical counterinsurgencies that failed for that matter. Terrorism usually has a part, but if overdone alienates the public support that is needed for success.

Kagan addresses the Shia militia problems:
Some now say that, although America's soldiers were successful in this task, the next battle is hopeless. We cannot control the Shia militias, they say. The Iraqis will never "reconcile." The government will not make the decisions it must make to sustain the current progress, and all will collapse. Perhaps. But those who now proclaim the hopelessness of future efforts also ridiculed the possibility of the success we have just achieved. If one predicts failure long enough, one may turn out to be right. But the credibility of the prophets of doom--those who questioned the veracity and integrity of General David Petraeus when he dared to report progress--is at a low ebb.
Reconciliation seems to be the hard one. That's part of the reason the Iraqi central government looks to be moving toward a fairly weak national government. More control in the specific provinces will likely assist in settling the over all tensions. Though the oil revenue issue still will be a thorn for many of the provinces.

Let's hope there is continuing reasons to be as optimistic as Kagan is here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Economist - Ignoring the News

This started off as an interesting article, but then they tripped. Apparently they haven't actually been watching current events. Or maybe the just are very pessimistic.

In any event, the American army and marines have produced a new counter-insurgency manual. One of its authors, General David Petraeus, is now in charge of the “surge” in Iraq. It may be too late to turn Iraq round, and Afghanistan could slide into greater violence. But the manual offers some comfort: it says counter-insurgency operations “usually begin poorly”, and the way to success is for an army to become a good “learning organisation”.
Sounds like they've been drinking too much of the "progressive's" cool-aide.


I've had a few conversations with a rather liberal co-worker on the topic of torture. I seem to constantly make the assumption that those involved in interrogations are under control of their superiors and there is a level of control within the ranks of the intelligence community. He on the other hand assumes since it's not all in the public view it must involve constant violations of law. Personally I think he's brain damaged, but it's fun to argue with him.

Last Sunday this article by Stuart Herrington goes into details of how he views interrogation should be performed. He clearly denies that there could possibly be a situation where a source's information could be needed in a short time. Most of his techniques require very long periods of time. My co-worker adversary loves to try this type of logic.
It also tells us that our young soldiers take away lessons from today's pop culture. Self-styled "experts" on interrogation frequently cite the "ticking bomb scenario" (featured on shows like "24") to justify the Jack Bauer-like tormenting of a prisoner. According to this construct, it is necessary and acceptable to torture in the name of saving an American city from "the next 9-11." This has a magnetic appeal to legions of Americans, among them future soldiers.
I'll concede that this scenario is probably quite improbable. I won't concede that it can't happen. I remain of the opinion that one should always be prepared. (Si vis pacem, para bellum) It's no doubt nice to be able to use the soft approach, but if someone is stabbing you, you don't discuss why they shouldn't, you stop them.

In any case, Herrington's article is informative in it shows what really happens with the vast majority of interrogations. No doubt the methods that he discusses are more effective than the rougher interrogations methods. Though I still disagree with the contention that torture doesn't work. I'd say the interrogator needs only get sufficient evidence to work with and not the whole truth. Again, this argument would seem to assume that those performing or overseeing the rougher methods are complete morons. I'd say that is categorically improbable.

Andrew McCarthy has an article related to the discussion of water boarding that came up during Michael Mukasey's AG hearings. There is some interesting perspective relating to the constitutionality argument that I found funny since I'd used a similar argument against my adversarial co-worker.
udge Mukasey’s testimony should actually be heartening to human- rights advocates. He has said he believes torture is forbidden under the Constitution — specifically under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. There is no question that torture and lesser forms of brutality are illegal; but the conceit that this prohibition is of constitutional pedigree is debatable.

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. One might think that means torture, in all instances, is barred. Yet, as Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out in his excellent book, Why Terrorism Works, our jurisprudence limits the Eighth Amendment’s application to punishments resulting from convictions in the civilian criminal-justice system. As the Supreme Court explained in Ingraham v. Wright (1977), “An examination of the history of the Amendment and the decisions of this Court construing the proscription against cruel and unusual punishment confirms that it was designed to protect those convicted of crimes. We adhere to this long-standing limitation.”

Similarly, the due-process guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments have been construed, based on the Supreme Court’s 1952 ruling in Rochin v. California, to bar evidence-gathering methods that “shock the conscience.” This fuzzy standard, however, has also been limited to criminal prosecutions. Justice Frankfurter, moreover, recognized that “hypothetical situations can be conjured up, shading imperceptibly from the circumstances of this case and by gradations producing practical differences despite seemingly logical extensions.” To be less dense, this suggests that waterboarding a top al Qaeda terrorist who has knowledge of an imminent weapons-of-mass-destruction attack against an American city might be different from coercing a suspect to submit to warrantless stomach-pumping just so we can use the couple of pills he emits to try him for narcotics violations, as happened in Rochin.

In any event, the Constitution has generally been held not to apply outside the United States. To be sure, the Supreme Court will be considering that proposition this term in a case involving enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay. There is clearly a chance five justices will decide otherwise. (The Court’s four solidly liberal justices would surely favor extraterritorial application; and in the 1994 Verdugo-Urquidez case, Justice Kennedy suggested that the question would turn on the right at issue and the circumstances.) Still, even assuming for argument’s sake that the cited amendments bar torture, it is anything but clear right now that the Constitution bars torture by American operatives overseas.

It would be preferable morally to always treat others as you would be treated. But that axe swings in an interesting manner when you're addressing someone who is actively trying to kill you or worse enslave you. Sooner of later you always have to face the possibility that things will reach the worst-case scenario. When the enemy drops the gloves, you have been released from the requirement that you not do the same. You can choose to take the high ground and keep your highest standards. But at some point you may have to lower your standards to survive. I think this is the thing that people in the US have forgotten. 9/11 stirred a lot of people. It apparently didn't stir enough and it apparently didn't stir most out of their general complacency.

So, has there been any additional clarity gained in the legality of torture even at coming to some definition?
Clarification was imperative for this confused landscape. Congress endeavored to provide it in 2006 when it passed the Military Commissions Act. The MCA made clear that issues of detention and interrogation would be controlled not by Common Article 3 but by American law: specifically, the McCain Amendment.

Furthermore, recognizing that our intelligence officers needed guidelines more precise than the vaporous injunction to avoid “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, Congress amended the War Crimes Act (Section 2441 of Title 18, U.S. Code) to specify which “grave breaches” of international law could give rise to criminal prosecution. The list is long but once again (and despite the specter of waterboarding that hung over the debate) Congress elected to include “torture” and “cruel or inhumane treatment,” but not simulated drowning — or, in fact, degrading treatment, even though it, of course, is illegal under the McCain amendment.

So is waterboarding illegal? It is ironic, and quite typical Washington fare, that the same elected officials now demanding a definitive answer from Judge Mukasey have failed to give us one themselves — though some of them, unlike Mukasey, are aware of classified details. Alas and alack, it is all too familiar that chatterers who should know better, like Prof. Turley, are so quick to caricature and demagogue a complex issue in order to call attention to themselves.
That's a no. Also, those who screech the loudest on the topic continue to waffle in making anything clear to anyone. That would be a great drawback of legalese. It just doesn't say anything that is self-evident without a lawyer, and even he doesn't know.

Read the articles. You should know at least this much information when talking about the topic.

Department of State Stepping Up to the Iraq Needs?

Small Wars Journal has a discussion of the move to force diplomatic corps involvement increases in Iraq.
Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, reports on a new US State Department intitiative; nay, order; that will see additional diplomats taking posts in Iraq next year because of expected shortfalls in filling openings, the first such large-scale forced assignment since the Vietnam War. As far as we are concerned this is a long overdue move by State to fulfill its end of the 80% political, 20% military counterinsurgency (COIN) fight in Iraq.
I guess my take on it is that forcing diplomats into the theater isn't going to be an effective strategy. I don't think it quite gets to the level of a military draft in the effect, but I can't see those members of an already very liberal department being any help there, especially if forced. I think the volunteer service has been doing the job best. Unfortunately I'd also say they've been understaffing in an arena that really needs the political involvement.

I do have to say though, that those that volunteer for this service should get advantages in their careers over those that don't. Taking on an assignment that is more dangerous should be awarded and not just be left at the same level as those performing service in some place nice and quiet.

Another Bloomberg Social Engineering Law

Guns and Calories. Probably see him going out of state to attack fast-food manufacturers next.
The Bloomberg administration, in its continuing fight against obesity, reintroduced a measure yesterday to force chain restaurants to display calorie information on their menus or menu boards, after a federal judge struck down a similar measure last month.

The new regulation would apply to all restaurants operating in the city that have 15 or more outlets here or across the country.
Another place government really should stay right out of. If there was that much of a demand for this information the companies would be providing it. But since no one is asking, they aren't telling.
“The big picture is that New Yorkers don’t have access to calorie information,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner. “They overwhelmingly want it. Not everyone will use it, but many people will, and when they use it, it changes what they order, and that should reduce obesity and, with it, diabetes.”
Horse-Shit. If they "overwhelmingly" wanted this the public could just stop going to those companies and they would force them to post such information. But they don't want that information, they just want their burger and fries. I find it highly improbable that there would be a substantial change in behavior if they did post the calories. And Frieden hasn't any evidence to actually support his contention.

More social engineering that frankly is a complete waste of time and really not any government's business to be forcing businesses into. What next? Telling the customer's they can't buy what they want. No probably just taxing them for their own good.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good For Bill

I don't like Bill Clinton, but in this case he should be applauded.
Clinton's 50-minute speech, which started about an hour behind schedule, was derailed briefly by several hecklers in the audience who shouted that the 2001 terrorist attacks were a fraud. Rather than ignoring them, Clinton seemed to relish a direct confrontation.

"A fraud? No, it wasn't a fraud," Clinton said, as the crowd cheered him on. "I'll be glad to talk to you if you shut up and let me talk."

When another heckler shouted that the attacks were an "inside job," Clinton took even greater umbrage.

"An inside job? How dare you. How dare you. It was not an inside job," Clinton said. "You guys have got to be careful, you're going to give Minnesota a bad reputation."
That is something to be proud of.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Boy Scouts, Bears and Guns

GeekWife sent this one too me.
WHITE HAVEN, Pa. —A Boy Scout played dead when attacked by a bear during a camping trip, avoiding serious injury.

Chris Malasics, 14, curled up in the fetal position in his sleeping bag after the bear ripped down his tent at Hickory Run State Park around 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Guess he got lucky. Of course, his statement that follows will likely cause a stir.
Malasics said the experience will not deter him from going camping. In the future, though, he intends to make sure he has a pepper spray for bears, and perhaps a gun.

"I know how to shoot," he said.

Yeah, imagine that he'd like to be able to defend himself. Not that he could being 14 and all. I'm betting if one of the scout leaders had had a gun it would have been more effective at driving off the bear than banging pots or flashing car headlights.

I'm thinking they got real lucky.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brits Taking on Algore's "Truth"

Pretty interesting that Algore's forces finally responded to the British Judge who pointed out some inconvenient factual errors in Algore's movie. The best item is where they start:
The judge himself never used the term "errors." That was an allegation made by the plaintiff--whose motives are quite suspect. Stewart Dimmock, who brought this case, appears to have been funded by the very same fossil fuel interests who have sought to undermine the scientific consensus behind global warming in the past.
Unfortunately, Algore's spokeman is wrong. As pointed out by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley.
Ms. Kreider then states, incorrectly, that the judge himself had never used the term “errors.” In fact, the judge used the term “errors,” in inverted commas, throughout his judgment.
NewsBusters is the title link that leads to all this fascinating discussions on truth. Monckton is an interesting character from what I've read so far, though he comes across as a British Ross Perot. He makes sense, and then says things that are a touch whacky.
Mr Monckton, 55, said yesterday he had expressed his concerns that the official views on climate change were going unchallenged and felt it right to circulate his presentation to every school in Britain so that, if head teachers saw fit, pupils could be allowed to see some of the scientific material the government was "rather anxious" that they should not see.

He said those preaching about climate change were acting from the same motives as those who got DDT banned, resulting, he said, in between 30 million and 50 million deaths from malaria.

"They are the same suspects - people who hate western values. Some of them are communists."

Umm, yeah. He started out ok, but that "communist" thing is probably a bit over board. But that should be counter balanced by Al-I-invented-the-internet-gore's statement. Sadly, it won't be. Reading the piece by Kalee Kreider you definitely come out with a bad taste as well. Especially at the start when she runs through the character assassination attempt by pointing out that Monckton is associated with a mining industry. Which we all know immediately disqualifies one from understanding scientific facts when they are presented without evidence.

It's also interesting to read the British papers who define him and the parties he associates with as "right-wing" but then they fail to do the same characterization of Algore's minions as being left-wing.
Monckton was one of the backers of Stewart Dimmock, the Kent lorry driver and school governor who took the government to court for sending copies of Gore’s film to schools.

The two are connected through the New party, a right-wing group whose manifesto was written by Monckton and of which Dimmock is a member.

Not that they have an issue with distorted reporting. Not any more so than we do here.

Algore's mouth piece doesn't provide anything new to the discussion. Just revamping previously trodden paths of "consensus" and the cherry-picked findings of the IPCC. None of which adds anything to the debate. Monckton's view is at least informative in that it takes you to the places that no one seems to want to go who is among the "consensus." Honest debate requires that both sides at least listen and consider the point of the other. Algore's movie and his climate change minions have come to the point of cramming their point of view down everyone's throat as truth, when it is only theory and is a contested theory at that.

Sadly they still don't get that this is a much easier sell if you show people all the reasons to get off of fossil fuels.

You'd think Algore would be better at the selling thing than he is.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Protected from the Truth

Not even going to comment.

Mike Yon's latest is again eye-opening.
I was at home in the United States just one day before the magnitude hit me like vertigo: America seems to be under a glass dome which allows few hard facts from the field to filter in unless they are attached to a string of false assumptions. Considering that my trip home coincided with General Petraeus’ testimony before the US Congress, when media interest in the war was (I’m told) unusually concentrated, it’s a wonder my eardrums didn’t burst on the trip back to Iraq. In places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Britain people hardly seemed to notice that success is being achieved in Iraq, while in the United States, Britney was competing for airtime with O.J. in one of the saddest sideshows on Earth.
It's long, but worth your time.

Bin Laden Throwing in the Towel on Iraq?

Counterterrorism Blog gives us this:
This new message from OBL is the second signal since early September that OBL smells and fears strategic defeat in Iraq. Look at Walid Phare's September 10 post about the September 8 video, in which he noted "unease among wider circles of the usually sympathetic commentators" and "a chaos unseen before" on jihadist websites. The quotes released thus far from this new audio include no boasts about America's weakness, as were made by his henchman Zawahiri in his tape on January 5 of this year. Instead, OBL whines about laziness and division in the ranks. Leaders on the road to victory never issue such demoralizing warnings.

This tape is the best confirmation of the crack-up on al-Qaida in Iraq, as reported here over the past month by Evan Kohlmann, and of the strategic turn of events in the Sunni triangle since the increase in U.S. troops and change in tactics. It's a desperate warning of defeat by a hidden, scared leader who senses that the basket into which he put many of his eggs has almost slipped irretrievably from his fingers.


Security Politicized

I think Schneier may be right that this is a good essay, except that he completely misses the fact that the so-called target is only one side of the political spectrum. If McCullagh had actually taken a bit of time to think and realize that both parties are pandering a vote all of the time he may have provided a more intelligent essay.
Politicians of both major parties wield this as the ultimate political threat. Its invocation typically predicts that if a certain piece of legislation is passed (or not passed) Americans will die. Variations may warn that children will die or troops will die. Any version is difficult for the target to combat.

This leads me to propose McCullagh's Law of Politics:

As the certainty that legislation violates the U.S. Constitution increases, so does the probability of predictions that severe harm or death will come to Americans if the proposal is not swiftly enacted.

McCullagh's Law describes a promise of political violence. It goes like this: "If you, my esteemed political adversary, are insufficiently wise as to heed my advice, I will direct my staff and members of my political apparatus to unearth examples of dead {Americans|women|children|troops} so I can later accuse you of responsibility for their deaths."

Which is nice except for his lead in statement is:
Republicans are so eager to sink a wiretapping bill that includes some privacy safeguards that they're invoking what amounts to a do-this-or-Americans-will-die argument.
So, does he really miss the most common Democratic screech? Rememeber "IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN." Nothing related to a security issue there now is there? Children's health care, gun control and the rest are all commonly bolstered security topics that the Dems rail about, yet McCullagh seems to miss their relevance to his topic.

Matt in CT comments at Schneier is right on the mark.
Mr. McCullagh fell into the bias trap with:

"While Republicans are more likely to invoke the threat, Democrats are not immune from the temptation."

That's hogwash.

The current examples are from the Republicans for the same reason most of the corruption is -- they are in power. Democrats do both just as well in proportion to their power.

In a subtle way, it is exactly what he his writing about -- in this case, "Fear them both...but especially those dirty, no good Republicans." Ignoring a long and equal history by both political parties of trampling over liberties in pursuit of small slices of the electoral pie.

This is issue will not be settled by partisanship of "Vote for Democrats. We're not as bad!"

Today the Repugs are throwing around the FISA and the Patriot act type trodding on rights. Though it appears the Dems are walking the same walk by voting in the same allowances without taking the time to do it right. But that's because their too busy trying to condemn the war in Iraq rather than spending the time to discuss security.

To take it all a step further, politicians are always willing to lessen your enumerated rights depending if they are a "good" right or one that they view as bad. Dems and Repugs stomped on free speech when they enacted the McCain-Feingold repression of political speech act. Dems generally view guns as evil so it's a right that is left on the side of the road. Etc. Repugs are bad, Dems ain't any better.

Another commenter (Straight Shooter) at Schneier got me laughing with this:
> how does one measure the certainty

> that legislation is unconstitutional?

10) ACLU's decibel level

9) EFF's decibel level

8) Schneirosmograph

7) Reciprocal of time mainstream media spends covering the issue

6) Reciprocal of Popularity of the legislation at stock-car races

5) Reciprocal of Level of applause for its passage

4) PSI of Executive support

3) Taxpayer dollars spent implementing the program before the Legislature was aware it existed

2) Reciprocal of Minutes spent debating it in Congress

1) The number of politicians and corporate executives it immunizes from prosecution.

Posted by: Straight Shooter at October 22, 2007 04:07 PM


Funny that the comments there are quite heavily against Schneier. Not that he has tended to have BDS, but oh wait, he does.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interesting Lesson from the Armenian Genocide

David Kopel has a history lesson that most certainly will never cross the minds of any of those who want to vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution.
As a first step, Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army were stripped of their weapons. Beaten and clubbed, placed on short rations, and sometimes murdered, they were used to dig fortifications and latrines for the Turks. Soldiers fled and returned home, bringing stories of the destruction of Armenian villages and towns, murders of priests, and rapes of women.

Disarmament orders were sent to Armenian towns; however, Armenian leaders would collect broken and useless weapons, and, with a bribe, deliver them to Turkish leaders — while keeping the functioning weapons for themselves.
Disarmament by those leading you should trigger very LOUD alarms.

Unbalanced Jackass


"You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
Someone needs a caning.


The Brit I work with asked if I had a chestnut tree nearby. I asked why and he stated "It's that time of year for conkers." Apparently it's a kid's game.
  1. Take a large, hard conker and drill a hole through it using a nail, gimlet, or small screwdriver. (This may be done by an adult on behalf of the contestant.) Thread a piece of string through it about 25 cm long. Often a shoelace is used. Tie a large knot at one or both ends of the string, so that the conker will not slide off when swung hard.
  2. Find an opponent. It is to your advantage if you can find an opponent with a conker smaller and softer than yours.
  3. Take turns hitting each other's conker using your own. If you break your opponent's conker, you gain a point. To do this one player lets the conker dangle on the full length of the string while the other player hits. To hit, hold the string in one hand with the conker held above it in the other hand, then swipe at the opponent's conker, letting go of your own nut but keeping hold of the string.
Just too funny.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Hot Air from Air America

Funny that they vilify Rush so much, but they aren't any better. Here's a perfect example of an idiot incapable of even getting a fact.
Air America radio host Randi Rhodes is temporarily off the air, but claims she was brutally attacked near her Manhattan apartment are bogus, her lawyer and a police source said today.

Fellow host Jon Elliott claimed on the liberal radio network that Rhodes had been mugged while walking her dog, Simon, on Sunday night. Elliot, who said Rhodes lost several teeth in the attack, waxed about a possible conspiracy.

"Is this an attempt by the right-wing, hate machine to silence one of our own?" he asked on the air, according to Talking Radio, a blog. "Are we threatening them? Are they afraid that we’re winning? Are they trying to silence intimidate us?"

A police source said Rhodes never filed a report and never claimed to be the victim of a mugging. Cops from Manhattan's 17th Precinct called her attorney, who told them Rhodes was not a victim of a crime, the source said.

Damn. Rush is a dolt, but this guy is in the seat right next to him.

Dalai Lama and China's Ire

How very pathetic.
BEIJING, Oct. 16 — Chinese officials warned the United States on Tuesday not to honor the Dalai Lama, saying a planned award ceremony in Washington for the Tibetan spiritual leader would have “an extremely serious impact” on relations between the countries.

The Dalai Lama arrived at his hotel in Washington on Tuesday before a meeting with President Bush.

Tibet’s Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, at the Communist Party’s 17th National Congress in Beijing today.

Speaking at a Foreign Ministry briefing and on the sidelines of the Communist Party’s 17th National Congress, the officials condemned the Dalai Lama as a resolute separatist and said foreign leaders must stop encouraging his “splittist” mission.

“Such a person who basely splits his motherland and doesn’t even love his motherland has been welcomed by some countries and has even been receiving this or that award,” Tibet’s Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, told reporters during the congress.

“We are furious,” Mr. Zhang said. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”
Maybe Mr. Zhang should speak with the Falun Gong or perhaps the families of protesters from Tienaman square. Justice my ass. He must have a very limited access to history since he doesn't seem to understand that the Dalai Lama fled Tibet when China began its repressive regime. Should we ask about the vast numbers of Tibetan monks and nuns that were murdered by the Chinese government? Or is that justice the way the party prefers it?

Fucking hypocrites.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Purpose of the Armenian Resolution

I essentially said this when I first heard discussions about the dems moving this resolution out of committee. No surprise that some commentators are now at least speaking to the reason and not just how bad an idea it is.
Legislation similar to this has come up repeatedly in Congress, yet it's always been defeated - in 2000, because of pressure from the Clinton administration. But if the resolution passes the House and Senate now, the Turks plan to evict us from Incirlik airbase in southeastern Turkey, to halt our military over-flight privileges and to shut down the supply routes into northern Iraq.

That's what the Democrats are aiming at. This resolution isn't about justice for the Armenians. Not this time. It's a stunningly devious attempt to impede our war effort in Iraq and force premature troop withdrawals.

The Dems calculate that, without those flights and convoys, we won't be able to keep our troops adequately supplied. Key intelligence and strike missions would disappear.

The Pentagon might be able to improvise other options. But the loss of the base and those routes would definitely hurt our troops. Severely. And we'd be more reliant than ever on a single, vulnerable lifeline running from Kuwait.

It's a brilliant ploy - the Dems get to stab our troops in the back, but lay the blame off on the Turks. They pretend they're responding to their Armenian-American constituents - while actually moving to placate

Brilliant? I don't agree. Devious, yes. Dangerous, yes. Brilliant, No.

Security-wise this is pretty clearly a bad decision. Giving the turks more of a reason to stand against us and continue to become radicalized is not strategically smart. Alienation of the turks won't get us anything beneficial and the Armenian resolution is completely useless . I've yet to hear any justification of how this resolution is anything more than talk. If the Dems are so upset with our international standing, why spend more time alienating partners?

Obama the Next Jemma?

This got me to laugh.
The Democratic nominee looks likely to be either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Hillary is furiously triangulating (it's a family tradition), criticizing Obama for saying he'd meet with the Iranian mullahs and then saying she would, voting for a hawkish resolution on Iran then cosponsoring a dovish one. But even Bill's triangulation got him only 43 percent of the vote in 1992 and 49 percent in 1996--and in terms of political skills, Hillary's no Bill. Obama, for his part, seems no more experienced in dealing with serious affairs of state than Jimmy Carter did in 1975. Obama could conceivably follow in Carter's footsteps and get the nomination--but America learns from her mistakes.
Now that isn't very nice, though it does sound fairly accurate.

Then there is:
That's partly because the GOP nominee will be stronger than Gerald Ford (with all due respect to the memory of that decent man, who would have been a better president than Carter). While a half-term senator and a one-term senator fight it out for the Democratic nomination, the GOP candidates include an experienced senator who's a war hero, the most successful political chief executive in recent times, an impressive businessman/governor, and a canny lawyer/senator/actor with Washington experience and a nice, middle-American background and manner.
Yeah, none of which gives one any sense that they will actually be fiscally conservative nor respectful of individual rights. I've had nausea similar to what I felt in 2000. I keep hearing the talk, but none of them is what I even remotely see as the clear choice.

I have to say, nothing Kristol provides here is a reason to cheer up.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why Do I Scare Sushi Restraunts

Ok, I don't understand why people at sushi bars seem to be bothered by my ordering. I only ordered $67 worth of sushi and sake by myself. That's not that much. Though I must say I really do prefer Granted and the geeQWhyfe's local establishment. They don't have Ume Shiso anywhere around, which is really pathetic.

Lady who sat beside me looked at the book I was reading and couldn't leave me alone. (Which was a bad thing since she was neither attractive nor single nor particularly intelligent.) I was reading Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn. My copy is over 100 years old. Oh, that's Japanese ghost stories. It's October, so I try to stick with ghost stories for my reading practice. Lovecraft tends to top the list, but I like a bit of the eclectic to go with it. I just don't find anything scary about modern ghost stories. Blackwood, Clark, Whitehead, and Chambers all seem to be so much more interesting. Stephen King is nauseating in his pedestrian methods of writing horror.

So I'm definitely feeling better. Or maybe just better lubricated. The sake loosened me up and the Scotch is helping me along. Talisker, I think Granted wouldn't approve. Oh well. I like it.

Funny, this is how they say to drink whisky. (I don't care what the spell check says, that is the correct spelling.)
It should be noted that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to drink Scotch whisky – it is very much down to a question of personal taste. However, let us offer a few basic suggestions and, for those interested in pursuing the pleasures of “nosing” and “tasting” further, we provide a link below to a detailed introduction to “nosing and tasting” scotch whisky.

Many who drink Scotch whisky neat say they do not want to spoil the taste by adding water. However, equally as many will say that adding a touch of water, particularly if it is pure, soft spring water, (ideally the same spring water used in the making of the particular whisky!) serves to enhance the distinctive aroma and flavour of a whisky. Tap water may contain high amounts of chlorine and therefore would not complement any whisky - your best bet is to opt for bottled Scottish mineral water!

Adding ice to a whisky can provide a refreshing drink but it should be noted that it will dull the fine taste and wonderful aromas and so should never be contemplated when conducting a “whisky nosing and tasting.” Similarly, carbonated water is not an ideal accompaniment for whisky as it will also interfere with the aromas.

The addition of mixers such as ginger ale, soda and even coca cola, is a popular trend, however it does beg the question - why drink whisky at all if you need to mask the taste?

Personally, I don't see any other way to drink it other than neat. Scottish Mineral Water? WTF? Though apparently it kills cancer cells.
The water of life – or “uisge beatha” in Gaelic - is a euphemism for whisky, but another Highland drink has been shown to have a more valid claim to the title.

The water, sourced from near Balmoral Castle, has been said to possess healing qualities since 1760

A mineral water taken from wells near the Queen’s Balmoral Castle can help to slow the spread of cancer, according to scientists.

Tests on Deeside Mineral Water suggest that it inhibits the growth of certain cancerous cells and kills other diseased cells.
Umm. Yeah.

Been listening to more slide guitar music lately. Well, that is because I've found a bunch of musicians that play it on Pandora. Bet I'm making them some money. I couldn't find this stuff on my own, and this service definitely has clued me into a lot of music that I like. Unfortunately they don't have any classical, which is what I usually listen to.

So I've earned a new nickname at work. I've been Grim, SDG (short dark and gloomy (or grumpy)), and now I've been labeled the Prince of Darkness. One comedian has taken to playing the Imperial March when I walk by. Not that I mind. I suppose that is to be expected when you're given a thankless job like lab manager. Funny how cabling gets much neater if you just keep disconnecting the ones that are messy. (I tried asking and that didn't work, so now I just remove the ones I don't like.)

Oh well, I need another glass.

Killcullen's Interview with Rose

Apparently it's harder for some than others to figure out how to fight and win an insurgency. Charlie Rose apparently is like most of the Democrats who are against the surge, they either don't get it or don't want to. Got this link from Libertarian Leanings.

I won't do anything more to quote or analyze, just read it for yourself.

Oh, and check this other link out as well.

Selecting a Candidate

Caught these at Dispatches from Blogblivion.

Both are these micro questionaires to find out what politician running for president has similar views to you. Both are quite blunt objects. The second came out closer to where I expect to be. The first frankly is a bit too short on topics of relevance.

Thought provoking at least.

Saturday Shutterbuggin'

Been feeling like I was hit by a car all day. Still went out for a bit with the camera, though I didn't go anywhere too impressive. I go walking along the Merrimack river periodically where there is the remnants of a canal system that was used to bypass a set of shallow rapids on the river. Interesting place.

Here's a bit of the canal that you can actually tell is man-made.
That grassy strip up the middle is what is left of the wall and the canal was to the right. I don't know if this was just a cleared section where the mules were used to draw boats up the river or if there was a lock of some sort. I don't see any real evidence of a lock, so I'm thinking it was just a deeper stretch with an adjacent tow path for pulling boats around the shallows.

I have other pictures, but it's hard to tell anything without standing there and seeing it up close.

I did take a couple pictures of my bonsai as well. They are a bit hairy from the summer, but their color is nice and with a bit more work I think they'll turn into something decent.

Wish I had more time for this. Well and space. It's about the only way I can have a garden of any sort to play with. I have others, but these look nice at the moment. The bottom one needs some restraint and wiring to get it better shaped. It's not nearly dense enough either, but it seems to be resisting my efforts to force it into a more dense canopy. The top one had some serious issues this spring when it started leaving out in February while I was in Florida on business. It looks to have recovered for the most part.

Hmm. Makes me think that sushi is on the menu for supper.

Sanchez Speaks, But You Didn't Get it all from the MSM

Sanchez was pretty brusque in his analysis of the Iraq war, and frankly he hasn't said anything that isn't justified. I'd also note that his statements pretty much fit most wars at some point.

Then he points out what I think is obvious, but the press seems to not want to dwell on.

His analysis statements regarding the partisan squabbling and complete failure to focus on the end game is for the most part minimized in reporting that I've seen.

The most humorous thing is what many blogs are starting to point out. The MSM completely ignores the start of his speech. Here he takes the MSM to task for irresponsible reporting and accelerating minor problems into conflagrations. Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters discusses this point pretty well.
Given that, it seems highly ironic that the journalists covering the story attempted to cover up the acidic, biting, and mostly accurate criticisms of their own performance in this war while giving front-page treatment to Sanchez' criticisms of the political structure at the same time. If Sanchez has such credibility and standing to bring this kind of criticism to bear on Washington, why didn't the Post and other news agencies give the same level of exposure to his media criticisms as well? He basically accuses them of cynically selling out the soldiers to defeat American efforts to win the war, and made sure that those accusations came first before his assessment of the political failures, but you'd never know that from the Post.

The Post then goes on to obfuscate a key part of the second half of Sanchez' speech. While he criticizes the Bush administration in sharp terms, Sanchez blames the Democrats in equal measure. He calls out partisans on all sides for exploiting the war for their own political benefit rather than the good of the nation, and blames the lack of range for strategic options on the corrosive debate that has hamstrung the range of choices.

I'm not particularly surprised that we didn't hear any of his criticism of the MSM. Why would you reasonably expect that to be reported from a group that can't report responsibly on any topic from the start. I'd say the discussion was never meant to be because it would make it clear to the public that the MSM is in fact biased and is causing more harm than good in our efforts in Iraq. They do more to propagate the insurgent's cause than our own.

Other decent commentary can be seen at the Belmont Club and Small Wars Journal.

To take this a step further checkout this National Review piece by Jonathan Foreman on fixers in Iraq.
That this journalist--otherwise honest and relatively unbiased--relied entirely on Sunni Arabs is bad enough. For a journalist to rely on Iraqis with such backgrounds is arguably like going to Germany in 1945 and hiring a former employee of Josef Goebbels as your fixer and a recently retired SS officer as your translator. Yet it had never occurred to my colleague that his choices were problematic, or that his employees might have an agenda of their own.
A bit inflammatory, but none the less accurate. The saddest part of all of this is that there is no one holding the MSM responsible. The average American merely swallows the MSM's point of view without question. I'd say that the EU population probably follows suit and the press in the middle-east passes it along as proof of US irresponsibility.

With the likes of Media Matters out there ensuring to defend the liberal side of press intelligence against conservative criticism it is no wonder that the MSM continuously views itself vindicated in its irresponsible actions. A group like Media matters would have more clout if they did more to balance their stance and look for bias on all sides of the MSM, but that isn't their purpose and thus deserves to be written off for the most part. They have a part to play in reporting flawed reporting, but since the focus is solely on the conservative point of view, it really comes across as hypocritical. No doubt the same attributions can be said for NewsBusters and others analyzing the liberal bent of the MSM.

One must wonder where the fourth estate will be taking us in the future. For most certainly, the MSM of today is far from responsible and far from neutral observers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What the Hell Does This Have to do with Peace?

I suppose the Nobel has had better days. This is pretty much proof that it no longer actually can figure out what Peace is or what its relevance is to reality.
The former US Vice-President Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness of the risks and challenges of global warming.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that Mr Gore would share the $1.5 million (£750,000) prize with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN expert panel which has been at the forefront of environmental science.

Maybe they should rename this award to "Nobel Sanctioning Political Correctness Award."

How this promotes or extends peace is beyond me. But they do make an attempt:
The Norwegian committee, which awards only the peace prize, said that it would be shared by Mr Gore and the IPCC "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".

The citation added: "Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds.

"Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states."

What horse-shit. I'd love to see the report showing that this is a supportable conclusion.

By the standard they set only politicians should get these awards due the direct proportion of the noise they make on any issue. I still don't see Algore as being anything more than a mouthpiece for a factually challenged movie. In fact there have been internet discussions and articles, pointing out the errors in that bit of propaganda. I wonder how Algore let his internet be used against him that way.

What's even more humorous is the finding by a London court yesterday:
LONDON - Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” is a biased and inaccurate political work that can’t be shown in British schools without special guidance, a British judge ruled yesterday.

The decision by High Court judge Michael Burton followed a complaint by Stewart Dimmock, a father of two schoolchildren, that the film is one-sided and full of inaccuracies. Burton agreed, citing numerous exaggerations and false claims in the film.

The government had intended to distribute 3,500 copies of the film in British schools. Burton said, under British rules barring “political indoctrination” in schools, the film can only be shown in public schools if its inaccuracies and bias are noted.

I'd say the judges point is more sustainable than Algore's facts.

This article even enumerates the problems. I love the last line.
"Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, represents 'partisan political views' and must be treated as such by teachers in British schools, a British High Court judge has indicated.

"The British court was swayed by numerous factual inaccuracies portrayed in the movie. Among them:

-- The film claims global warming is responsible for the gradual retreat of the alpine glacier atop Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro. Scientists have conclusively demonstrated no such link exists.

-- The film presents graphs indicating that fluctuating carbon dioxide levels have always preceded and caused global temperature fluctuations. In fact, temperature changes have always preceded carbon dioxide changes.

-- The film suggests global warming caused Hurricane Katrina. Few hurricane experts believe this, and substantial scientific evidence indicates global warming is having no impact on hurricane frequency or intensity.

-- The film asserts global warming is causing Central Africa's Lake Chad to dry up. In fact, land use practices are causing the drying up of Lake Chad, and Central Africa is in an unusual and prolonged wet period.

-- The film asserts global warming is leading to polar bear deaths by drowning. Yet the only documented drowning deaths occurred due to a freak storm, and polar bear numbers are growing substantially.

-- The film claims global warming threatens to halt the Gulf Stream and initiate a new ice age. The vast majority of scientists who have studied the issue have determined such a scenario is implausible.

-- The film asserts global warming is causing the destruction of coral reefs through bleaching. Scientists have identified other causes for coral bleaching and have additionally noted bleaching is a natural process by which coral continually selects ideal symbiotic algae.

-- The film asserts Greenland is in danger of rapid ice melt that will raise sea levels by 20 feet or more. The scientific consensus is that any foreseeable Greenland ice melt will be gradual and will take centuries to substantially raise sea levels.

-- The film asserts the Antarctic ice shelf is melting. In fact, only a small portion of Antarctica is getting warmer and losing ice mass, while the vast majority of Antarctica is in a prolonged cold spell and is accumulating ice mass.

"Also highlighted in court arguments was Al Gore's admission in Grist Magazine that 'I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it [global warming] is.'

Heh. That is good. Also clearly indicative of propaganda.

Well, I'm sure Norway will give Algore some solace and money for being a distorter of truth.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Obama and the Kingdom of Heaven

Hmm. Just taking this one sentence out makes me ponder:
The senator from Illinois delivered his campaign message to a multiracial evangelical congregation in traditionally conservative Greenville, South Carolina. "I think it's important, particularly for those of us in the Democratic Party, to not cede values and faith to any one party," Obama told reporters outside the Redemption World Outreach Center where he attended services.

"I think that what you're seeing is a breaking down of the sharp divisions that existed maybe during the '90s," said Obama. "At least in politics, the perception was that the Democrats were fearful of talking about faith, and on the other hand you had the Republicans who had a particular brand of faith that oftentimes seemed intolerant or pushed people away."

Obama said he was pleased that leaders in the evangelical community such as T.D. Jakes and Rick Warren were beginning to discuss social justice issues like AIDS and poverty in ways evangelicals were not doing before.

"I think that's a healthy thing, that we're not putting people in boxes, that everybody is out there trying to figure out how do we live right and how do we create a stronger America," Obama said.

He finished his brief remarks by saying, "We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

Umm. What to say to that? I recall that the kingdom on earth was after the apocalypse. Well, I'm of the opinion that the Mayan's may have had it right when they predicted that the world would end in 2012. That will be the last year of the next presidential term. Though I was betting it was more likely that Hillary would be the bringer of the end times.

Or does he mean a literal kingdom?

Heh, who knows?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gun Confiscation and Human Rights

From Of Arms and the Law:

Human Rights and Gun Confiscation,” David B. Kopel, Paul Gallant & Joanne D. Eisen, 26 Quinnipiac Law Review (No. 2, 2008, forthcoming, draft) explores the effects of gun confiscation in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Available here, in pdf. (Large file).
Better read that one. Especially if you support the UN's decision to disarm all of the little people.

While your looking, read his brief analysis and link to analysis of the HR 2640. I tried to read that bill last week and frankly got lost in the legalese. (Imagine if laws were actually written so that the citizenry could understand them?)

A Lesson in Lawyers

Fascinating. This is one of the attorneys who are challenging the DC gun ban. He clearly is clueless with regards to gun rights and the debate on gun rights. That is truly frightening.
Neily, who served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs challenging the ban, explained that while some view the Second Amendment as a "collective right," the view that the Second Amendment protects a right of individuals to own guns is likely to prevail. He explained that most legal scholars on the subject support the individual rights theory, and that efforts to advocate the "collective rights" theory appear hypocritical.

"There has been a remarkable diversion to individual rights theory by professors, even liberal ones," Neily said. "Guns are not a big part of my life, but it bothers me when an entire part of the Constitution can be written out when you apply a constitutional theory that liberals would never apply to a right they actually care about. If you imagine the right at stake is one you care about a lot. I think you'll be offended to see a court take it as lightly as they take the Second Amendment." However, Tushnet explained that there is support for the collective rights theory in the wording of the Constitution. The "militia," he said, could likely be referring to the National Guard.
That's right. The National Guard is the militia. Seems to me having a military unit that is paid for and trained and can be called up by the federal government would define this as a federal standing army unit. Yes the state can use them, but they don't control them, fund them, or train them. He goes on to try and walk around the statement by discussing the "unorganized militia" which I frankly don't recall ever having heard of.
According to Neily, even a reading permitting gun ownership for militia purposes would not prevent citizens from owning guns due to the true definition of a well-organized militia. Rather than interpreting the "militia" to refer to the National Guard, a concept the federalists would have hated since it would have looked "too much like a standing army," Neily interprets the use of the word "militia" to refer to the unorganized militia.

"All able-bodied men from 17 to 44 are in the unorganized militia, and that's exactly what was meant in 1792," Neily said. "They actually called out the unorganized militia during World War II. When the unorganized militia is called, you're supposed to bring your own gun. You're actually required to bring your own gun. That's what the word well-regulated meant."
Hmm. Interesting but misses the point that there was no such thing. The "well-regulated militia" was all there was in the time of the writing of the constitution. There was a standing army as well, but that is not a militia. If the militias became an unorganized system later, that doesn't have any meaning to what existed in the time of the writing. WWII is completely irrelevant. No constitutional changes related to the second amendment occurred, so it's not an argument.

Then he lamely falls into the "Bazooka problem."
In addition to discussing the Constitutional theories behind the amendment, the speakers addressed what Tushnet described as the "bazooka problem"- the questionable usefulness of a privately-owned firearm in protecting against an oppressive government with large-scale superior weapons not contemplated at the drafting of the Second Amendment.

Tushnet explained this problem by discussing the two primary purposes people see in the Second Amendment-- self-defense and protection from tyrannical government.

"If we're talking about self-defense, handguns work for that," Tushnet said. "The other purpose we mentioned earlier is to guard against an overreaching government. If that is the purpose of the Second Amendment, the "bazooka problem" really is a serious problem. If the function is that you can resist the government and the government has tanks, then it's not clear what use you're getting out of a handgun."
What a pinhead. A member of a militia never did "keep and bear" cannons. The argument is something made up to scare the stupid. Militia's required there men to show up with their long arm and other relevant items which could include hand guns. They also required bayonets and knives for the men, and swords for the officers. I've yet to see a militia order that required any man to fall in with a cannon.

If this is the best the litigants can do for a lawyer, I think they are doomed.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thai WMD

This is pretty funny. I'm surprised it didn't happen in Boston.

Firefighters wearing protective breathing apparatus were called to D'Arblay Street, Soho, after reports of noxious smoke filling the air.

Police closed off three roads and evacuated homes following the alert.

Specialist crews broke down the door to the Thai Cottage restaurant at 1900 BST on Monday where they discovered the source - a 9lb pot of chillies.

The restaurant had been preparing Nam Prik Pao, a red-hot Thai dip which uses extra-hot chillies which are deliberately burnt.

But the smell prompted several members of the public to call the emergency services.

That's my preferred type of WMD. Delicious.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blackwater Hearings

No I haven't been following this very closely, so I need to probe some of the better blogs and the Milblogs to see some better perspective. (Right, when I'm not working or asleep, which means it may not happen.)

From what I've seen in the MSM it does look like dems looking to make a scandal. Well, that is their job after all. Oh, wait, no it's not.
WASHINGTON -- Top State Department officials and the head of their beleaguered private security firm, Blackwater USA, put forth a unified defense Tuesday against an onslaught of congressional criticism over the company's violent encounters with Iraqis.

The State Department and security officials attempted to portray Blackwater's armed guards as highly trained professionals who open fire in the streets of Baghdad only when the lives of the diplomats they are hired to protect are threatened.

At a daylong Capitol Hill hearing, Erik Prince -- the company's chairman and a former Navy SEAL -- responded to accusations of misconduct by defending his employees' performance and maintaining that the State Department was a meticulous overseer that held the contractors to exacting standards.
First let's consider that many if not most of these guys are former special forces. That has to make the diplomats feel better. And their success rate is there to speak for itself.
Republicans repeatedly pointed out that no U.S. official under Blackwater's protection has been killed or seriously wounded in Iraq -- a testament, they argued, to the company's proficiency.

"That's a perfect record, and you don't get any credit for it, for some reason," said Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.).
Prince sought to portray the 195 shooting incidents the company has been involved in since 2005 as rare occurrences. He said that so far this year, Blackwater has guarded 1,873 convoys, out of which there were 56 shootings, or less than 3% of all assignments. Last year, the company had 6,254 missions and 38 incidents.

Prince also said committee calculations that Blackwater guards had fired first in more than 80% of the shootings were misleading. Many of those involved suspected car bombs that were moving toward diplomatic convoys, he said.
Hmm. Interesting that they seem to have this problem with the Blackwater guys firing first. Seems to make sense to me. They aren't there to be nice, they are there to protect a specific person. We only leave the honor of getting killed before allowing people to defend themselves to our military. (yeah that's sarcasm)

And I've heard this point before:
He said Blackwater had been unfairly accused of widespread misdeeds, arguing that because of the company's prominence, it gets blamed for incidents that involve rival security firms.

"There's 170-some security companies operating through Iraq. We get painted with a very broad brush on a lot of the stuff they do," he said, noting that the company routinely gets false reports of its guards being involved in attacks. "If a private security contractor did it, it often gets attributed to us."
The discussion about outsourcing the military has been flying around for a while. It also misses the point that this isn't something you want the military to be doing. Being a body guard requires you use different rules of engagement than fighting a war by "the rules." Blackwater is vilified for bad deeds of other security groups because they are a big and reputable name for the most part. In business competitors use FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) all the time to discredit competition. Why would one think this is any different, especially since this is the contractor with the biggest and best contract?

Other thoughts come to mind as why they use these contractors rather than the military. First, when you show up to do the diplomacy thing do you really want to show up with guys driving tanks and armored personnel carriers? Or do you want the guys to be in civilian clothes. And note, that the military guys can't walk around in any military context in civilian clothes as this would be a violation of the Geneva conventions.

Then there is the infrastructure and support requirements. Being former special forces the Blackwater guys probably have a fairly small foot print. Yes, having active duty SEALs doing that would have a small footprint as well, but don't you think that there are better things for them to be doing?

Sorry, the rational analysis is this is partisan crap as usual and since the surge appears to be working so far, the dems need something different to vilify the Administration on.