Monday, July 31, 2006

Why I Hate Barnes & Noble

I received a $100 gift card to B&N. Nice gift. So I used it this Sunday to buy a book and some DVDs.

This AM I get this email.
Dear Nylarthotep,

Thank you for shopping with Barnes&!

We are contacting you concerning an order placed on your account. Our automated system
has identified a situation that requires us to speak with you as soon as possible.

Please email us at or call 1-877-379-0036 Mon-Fri
between the hours of 8:30am - 5:00pm EST. If you are calling from outside the United
States, call 212-414-6024. Please be sure to have the credit card you used to place the
order available when contacting us.

Our order system does not permit us to hold an order open for longer than a week.
Therefore, it is important that we hear from you by Aug 06, 2006.

We appreciate your business and look forward to speaking with you soon.


Sales Audit Representative
So there's no reason stated for the issue. So I reply:
What do you want? This email is a waste of my time by not specifying the issue.

Please specify the issue prior to proceding with this.
Being the nice guy I am I thought I was being pretty specific, and since I didn't feel like staying on call-waiting I gave them a chance to tell me the issue through email, which was their first response choice.

Then I get this email:
Dear Customer:

In order to resolve this situation as quickly as possible, please contact our Sales Audit Department at 1-877-379-0036. Customers living outside of the United States may contact us at 1-212-414-6024. Sales Audit Representatives are available to assist you from 8:30AM to 5PM E.S.T. Monday- Friday. It is vital that you call us within 72 hours of 7/31/06 to prevent the cancellation of your order. If you have any additional questions or comments, please email us at Thank you for shopping at Barnes & Please visit us again soon.


Sales Audit Department

Barnes and
OH. Now I have to call. I guess I should have been nicer. But now they will have to actually talk to me while I'm angry, so go figure whose going to be the loser on this one.

So I called ther number and fortunately got a representative fairly quickly. They asked me where I purchased the gift card. I said "I didn't, it was a gift." They respond, "yes, but where was it purchased?"

So I sigh heavily and explain that it was a gift, so I don't know, and what was the problem.

They say, "hold on, I'll be right back with you."

Five minutes later, they say every thing is set with my order and I'd be getting a confirmation email.

I say, thanks and hang up.

I wasn't in the mood anymore and just wanted to get off the phone.

I still don't know what the issue was.

Searching For Democrats

Beyond the Beltway, you actually have to hunt far and wide to find any significant concentration of Democrats who share Joe Lieberman's views on Iraq.

I think the problem here is that a lot of the Dems (and obviously pundits) don't go beyond the beltway. Or beyond San Francisco, New York City or Cambridge. There are quite a few Democrats that share Lieberman's views. My monster-in-law, whom I use as the universal Democrat-litmus paper, is very much in favor of Lieberman.

Human Rights Watch: Completely Clueless

Another Clueless voice heard from:
The carnage, which comes 10 years after Israeli forces killed more than 100 civilians in Qana during Operation Grapes of Wrath, prompted Human Rights Watch to rush out a two-page statement accusing the Israeli Defense Forces of war crimes in advance of a longer report that will be published later this week. Responsibility for the deaths rested "squarely" with the Israeli military, HRW said. It was the latest product of a bombing campaign that the IDF has waged in Lebanon over the past 18 days, leaving hundreds of people dead, the vast majority of them civilians.

The rights group called on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate serious violations of international law in Lebanon. "To date," it said, "Israel has not presented any evidence to show that Hezbollah was present in or around the building that was struck at the time of the attack."

"Qana was not a mistake," said Peter Bouckaert, HRWÂ’s Emergencies Director and one of two HRW researchers currently in Lebanon. "It was not an accident. It was the natural outcome of a policy of not distinguishing between civilian and military targets. If you have a daily small massacre of civilians youÂ’re going to end up with a big one sooner or later."

Need I say more?

Human Rights Watch appears to only see the outrage toward Israel defending itself and the collateral damage. They completely fail to condemn Hezbollah in their responsibility for the deaths. That complete imbalance in their statement makes it clear to me that these people are complete idiots.

You can read the rest, but the logic is not in touch even with the lack luster reporting that has reached the public here in the US.

Qana and Cease-fire

Israel going into a cease-fire at this moment strikes me as a definite mistake. There is little doubt that Hezbollah will continue to fire rockets into Israel irrespective of that action. Worse, it appears that the reason comes from Qana where Hezbollah was firing rockets while surrounded by civilian shields.
Hours after its warplanes killed dozens of women and children in a bombing raid on this southern Lebanese village, Israel agreed last night to halt its aerial war in Southern Lebanon for 48 hours, as international condemnation mounted over the heavy civilian death toll. The bombing yesterday morning was the deadliest single episode in 18 days of war. Some estimates put the death toll as high as 57. The United Nations Security Council last night unanimously adopted a statement expressing "extreme shock and distress" over the attack but stopping short of an appeal for an immediate cease-fire.
Most of the victims were women and children from two extended families who had taken refuge from weeks of Israeli attacks in the basement of a half-finished concrete house. The airstrike collapsed a house onto the shelter in this village at the center of Israel's air war against the Hezbollah, whose fighters have fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel.
The international outrage is interesting, though I find it unlikely that any of the loudest countries wouldn't be doing the same thing if placed in Israel's shoes.

Of course, this is a coupe for Hezbollah. Not only did they get to use Qana to launch rockets at Israel, but they get a major piece of propaganda against Israel due to the collateral damage. The vast majority of the first reports of the attack pretty much ignored that Hezbollah was launching rockets from there, just as Koffi Annan continues to ignore that the UNIFIL base had been used to shield rocket attacks.
The civilian death toll brought public outrage to a boiling point in Lebanon and spurred United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to call for a halt to violence. Annan told the UN Security Council in an emergency meeting last night it would be discredited if it failed to take meaningful action to halt the conflict.
You'd think that the Secretary General of the UN would be a bit more objective. But I'm certain that he believes that the higher civilian death toll in Lebanon is of more importance than the deaths in Israel.

The MSM, overall, is playing this very anti-Israeli. All the quotes in the article support the view that Hezbollah wasn't using the civilians for shields. It fascinating to note that there are no quotes holding Hezbollah to task for their actions. Go ahead and count the quotes supporting Hezbollah or condemning Israel and compare that to the number pointing out Hezbollah's responsibility.

As the psychological war goes, the terrorists have the press in their pocket.

I made the mistake of reading this article out of Salon on the topic. It's fascinating on it's complete lack of logic or having any clue about how Hezbollah is fighting.
Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes.
Yep. Someone seems to be missing that Hezbollah is firing rockets from mobile launchers. Typical tactics from guerrilla groups. Not to mention that in many cases they can just drive in and setup the launcher and fire their munitions without any local interference. No doubt there are launchers placed on buildings that draw attacks, but denying that the emplacements are there not only for attacking Israel, but also to draw fire into civilian areas is shockingly naive.
The Israelis are consistent: They bomb everyone and everything remotely associated with Hezbollah, including noncombatants. In effect, that means punishing Lebanon. The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah's social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The "terrorist" organization Hezbollah is Lebanon's second-biggest employer.
Wouldn't be interesting to find out how this reporter would decide who in Hezbollah is a combatant and who isn't? There's that interesting part of terrorist groups that has been seen in the Palestinian territories. If terrorists start filtering money into communities, they start to become a supported part of the infrastructure, but when they start firing rockets at Israel, they are still humanitarian support groups.
Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered "Hezbollah" installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons -- they did, after all, take over an apartment building against the protests of the landlord, knowing full well it would be bombed -- but for military ones.

"You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon," a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. "They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They're completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians -- no discipline and too much showing off."

Nice that they go to such extremes to push that message. Problem I have is that I don't believe them. I also overwhelmingly see this as a further propaganda tool for Hezbollah. Who are we to believe? The Israeli missile camera shots showing large, mobile rocket launchers in the center of a civilian area, or the quotations from a "non-military" wing of a terrorist organization?

This also should be clear even to these dolts at Salon. If a group with a humanitarian wing choses to fight a war, they should expect all portions of their organization to be attacked. Especially when the terrorist portion of the group hides among civilians.

The cease-fire screaching by the UN proves the effectiveness of the presses influence on this situation. It also proves that Hezbollah's tactics are working.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kerry Says Democrats Will Make Nation More Secure

This from a guy who's been on the wrong side of history his entire life. Of course, he doesn't offer any solutions, just a list of problems.

"The fact is, the United States of America is less secure today than we were five years ago," he said. "Less secure because North Korea has four or five times more weapons .... Iran is running amok, the Middle East -- the wheels are coming off, and Iraq is a quagmire."

I suspect his solution would be to yank all our troops & resources over the horizon, maybe to Murtha's quick response bases in Okinawa, and call on the UN. After all, they've done a good job in the past... Oops. Wrong side of history again.

Collection Agencies - EEEEVIILLL

I don't doubt for a moment that a collection agency showing up at the door demanding that an old, large, debt be paid on the spot or they would confiscate property is pretty frigging scary. However, why are they able to do that? Because you, the individual, the one with the credit card(s) has failed to properly manage your cash flow.

It is that, almost unnoticed by policy-makers, many millions of Americans have slid, or been pushed, into a debtor's hell where bank accounts are drained, wages are attached, property confiscated, and threats of jail are an everyday occurrence.

No hyperbole here. Millions pushed into debt. Um, no. Millions who needed an annual trip to Disney, a new television every 18 months, a new car on the same schedule, cell phones, brand name clothing... but I'll bet it's not even millions. The Globe doesn't offer any support for that number.
An estimated one of every 11 consumers has at least one credit card that is more than 90 days past due, according to nationwide data provided to the Globe by the credit reporting agency Experian.

Finally, we have source for an "estimated" scary number. The article is getting more & more scary. I'm sure we'll soon see the call for a law that either calls for income redistribution or laws allowing people to overspend without repercussion or both.
Seizing cars to collect old debts is lawful in Massachusetts. But time and again, those working on the Goldstones' behalf have turned it into an excruciating ordeal for consumers, making dark-of-the-night collection visits, and holding cars hostage until debtors can scrounge up the cash to pay down a past-due amount.

Really sounds horrifying. Probably should have tried paying your debts and keeping paperwork in order. But I was wrong, the Globe just went on & on about how scary & mean these guys are and that's the article. I'm shocked that no new laws were proposed.

ps: GeekWife has probably kept me from getting into trouble with credit cards because I could go pick up a Bushmaster & one of those sweet Springfield .45's & a Martini-Henry I saw over at IMI, and...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Churchill's African War Books

So, Granted, in his usual manner, has found some excellent books on Isandlwana and Roarke's Drift, which of course I had to rush out and purchase. I'm not linking to them, since I'm lazy.

I did find some interesting free books on the African wars of Great Britain written by Winston Churchill. Project Gutenberg of course. The first is The River War about the history around the loss and retaking of the Sudan. The other is London to Ladysmith via Pretoria obviously on the Boer war.

The only problem with these books is printing them out. I can't stand reading books on a CRT.

Then there is the web-sites that I found on the British Battles. This site has briefs, maps and illustrations of many different battles and links to books on the topic. (It's a British site, so the books are all from I hope I can find some of these here in the colonies.)

The Bolton Hearings

Let's be honest, the MSM has been completely lame in reporting on this. In fact, the complete lack of transcripts of the more confrontational portions of the testimony is indicative of someone's leaning. WaPo spends a whole page discussing the water leak in the chamber. How exceptionally lame is that?

And the parts of the testimony mentioned, are frankly weird. Get this:
Instead, Democrats used Bolton as a proxy to complain about administration policies. Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), perhaps the feistiest Democrat on the committee, used the first nine minutes of her 10-minute question time to criticize Bush policies in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran. To help her pronounce the name of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Boxer had a handwritten note in front of her with phonetic spelling ("mah-MOOD"). But at the end of her tirade, she added: "Now, Mr. Bolton, this has nothing to do with you."

If anything, Democrats took the famously combative Bolton to task for not being fierce enough. "I want you to get tough with the Chinese and the Russians," Nelson instructed.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) appeared to be particularly agitated about Bolton. As he prepared to question the nominee, Feingold furiously scratched out items on a 24-point list, which he had scribbled on wrinkled yellow legal paper in black, red and blue ink. The list, which the senator later discarded, was entirely illegible.

But Feingold, too, was in the strange position of scolding Bolton for being insufficiently tough on Iran, North Korea and the U.N. Human Rights Council.

With Democrats sounding like neocons, the Republicans didn't have much to worry about. Lugar left midway through the session, handing the gavel to Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). Four Republicans didn't show up at all.

Aren't these the same people that complained about his being to combative during the original hearing, and now they are pointing to his being diplomatic as being a fault? I don't get this. I also don't know where Boxer was running. Though I suppose after seeing a few of these hearings, I can conjecture that irrelevant political speeches is a norm.

I had to go to RedState to find even a portion of the quote from the Kerry-Bolton exchange. Not the source I would typically go to for unbiased news.
By far the most absurd line of questioning came from John Kerry. Bush's once and maybe future opponent evidently shares his party's habit of mistaking the process of diplomacy for results. Echoing Madeleine Albright and Howard Dean, he chastised Bolton (and by extension, Bush) for not continuing Clinton's appeasement of North Korea. Fortunately, Bolton was having none of it:
Kerry: Why not engage in a bilateral one [negotiation] and get the job done? That's what the Clinton administration did.
Bolton: Very poorly, since the North Koreans violated the Agreed Framework almost from the time it was signed.
If we can count on more exchanges like this when Bolton's nomination reaches the full Senate, Republicans should look forward to that day in breathless anticipation.
That exchange was much better live. Kerry trying to be the hard-ass and having his ass handed to him by Bolton must have been especially goring. (And entertaining to those of us that think Kerry is an ass.)

Then there is Christopher Dodd and Bider who could only come up with the criticism that Bolton is an ineffective bully. That is quite humorous. I'd state that he's been far more effective in the short period that he's been than Albright or any of the UN ambassadors that have been in place in the past decade.

Salon's article on Bolton is not surprisingly a tirade against Bush, Bolton, and any policy concerning the UN.
Here's what they start with on Bolton.
After a year as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton has still not gone to get a decent haircut. He showed up Thursday at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee looking as shabby as the last time he testified, with an unruly cushion of graying locks flopped across his forehead and bunched over the nape of his neck. Combined with a walrus mustache and glasses that kept falling down his nose, he looked like the Muppet Show's Swedish Chef applying for a job in the Foreign Service.
Nice and juvenile. Can always depend on the writers in Salon for starting off with something totally irrelevant.
Nonetheless, the Democrats, who have predicted a "bruising fight" over the nomination, repeatedly declared that they did not want to focus on Bolton's offensive style, but his performance as ambassador. "My objection is not that he is a bully, but that he is an ineffective bully," Dodd said in his opening statement. "He can't win the game when it really counts." Similarly, Biden introduced himself to the nominee by saying, "My concerns continue to relate to substance and not style, Mr. Ambassador."

But that distinction largely misses the point of Bolton's tenure at the United Nations. He was chosen by the Bush Administration to offend the mores and upset the structure of the institution he once described as a rightful lapdog of the United States -- "The United States makes the UN work when it wants to work." He once famously said the UN's New York headquarters could lose 10 floors without disruption. More than 30 of Bolton's fellow ambassadors recently complained to the New York Times about his confrontational tactics and his flaunting of diplomatic conventions. They did not criticize his policies as much as the arrogance of his ways. "He's lost me as an ally now," confided one ambassador, who was identified as having close ties to the Bush Administration.

I love when Salon quotes unnamed sources. There analysis of why Bolton was chosen, finds its way into the category of fantasy. Bolton was chosen because he would be an extremely strong advocate for the US and for cleaning up the mess that is the UN. He has done exactly that. As to effectiveness, why don't we go back to the original arguments on Bolton being to harsh and compare that with the Boxer/Feingold statements. These politicos want effectiveness, but can't seem to make up their minds on what form of diplomatic means should be used. I would also love to tell Dodd/Biden about the opinion of many on their effectiveness in congress. (Yep, my opinion, just like their opinion on Bolton's effectiveness, no exactly unbiased.)

I doubt that the Senators that are against Bolton will be getting as much of a diplomatic hearing as the original one. I'd personally make it confrontational if I were Bolton. These politicos have already done their best to besmirch his reputation, so I see no reason not to fight back. I find it unlikely that it could get any worse for him in that committee room.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mexican Sore Losers

More on what's going on south of the border. My favorite quote was:

This was the reality testified to by 1,800 district advisers, 970,000 representatives from all the parties, 24,769 national observers and 639 international observers. Nevertheless, López Obrador is unwilling to accept his personal defeat (although, of course, he considers the elections that produced unprecedented victories for his party to be valid).

In other words, just like a lot of the attacks on the last two national elections in the US, the losers want to pick & choose which parts of the votes are valid and which parts are not. While the Democrats focus so much of their time on Ohio, they don't look at states like Pennsylvania where their margin of victory was just as a slim as the Republicans' in the other state. I'm sure if we drilled down on each and every county in Pennsylvania we'd find just as many discrepancies. So, do we hold the election again, and again, and again, until the Democrats win (We can call that the Washington State model)? That's apparently what is being requested in Mexico.
This does not sound like the person I'd want running my country.
He went to the Zócalo (that theological-political spot in the historical center of Mexico City) to declare: "We've won the presidency." Days later, after release of the official tally by the Federal Electoral Institute (the independent citizen body that since 1996 has been successfully organizing fair elections at every federal level, reversing a long history of fraud), López Obrador summoned the "people" to an "assembly" at which he called President Vicente Fox a "traitor to democracy" and used the most ominous word in the Mexican political dictionary: "fraud."

I can't say I'm crazy about the thought of someone like that running the country next door either. Because, after all,
This denigration of the respected Mexican electoral system (which had just announced the triumph of hundreds of PRD candidates), and the incendiary speeches that have followed seriously threaten the peace in Mexico.

OK, name a leader from the 20th century that this might describe:
The charismatic leader who incarnates Truth, Reason, History and Virtue, the leader who will save Mexico from oppression, inequality, injustice and poverty, who will "purify national life": Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Hillary's Presidential Bust

This is from over at the Corner. Personally, I think the artist has lost complete touch with reality. That or it's just her personallity that makes me want to hurl.
Artist Daniel Edwards describes this new sculpture as capturing Clinton "with her head held high, a youthful spirit and a face matured by wisdom. Presented in a low cut gown, her cleavage is on display prominently portraying sexual power which some people still consider too threatening."...
I truly hope she has something more than "sexual power" to bring to the table, because I'm betting that won't get you anywhere with the guys who think she should be in a burka, or just dead.
...Edwards’ inspiration for the piece was derived from actress Sharon Stone’s controversial quote earlier in the year about challenges that would most likely be encountered should the Junior Senator from New York run on the ’08 ticket. “I think Hillary Clinton is fantastic,” Stone said. “But I think it is too soon for her to run. This may sound odd but a woman should be past her sexuality when she runs. Hillary still has sexual power and I don’t think people will accept that. It’s too threatening.”

“Displaying a sculpture to encourage discourse about the sexual power debate surrounding the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency is very much in line with our mission as a museum,” noted Daniel Gluck, Executive Director. “We are wholly dedicated to the exploration of the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. Historically, leaders are often expected to possess an exceptional amount of virility or fertility with displays of that sexual power often tied to their success. The artist’s portrayal of Hillary Clinton as a president who also happens to be a sexual being conveys the message that a woman need not squelch her sexuality in order to succeed as leader of the free world.”
I don't know about the rest of you, but I find nothing about Hillary's "sexual power" threatening. I find much about her character and her political stances threatening. But then, depending on Sharon Stone for political analysis of the voting public isn't exactly intelligent.

Saddam's "Trapped Rat" Moment

Funny that Saddam is so clearly showing his colors now. And they are especially characteristic of a Rat.
"I would like to remove myself from this courtroom," barked Saddam, who maintained that the court was not legitimate and that he did not have proper legal representation. "I wrote you a petition clarifying that I don't want to come to court, but they brought me against my will. ... I have been on a hunger strike since July 8."

Several times, he threatened the substitute attorneys, whose names were not released and whose voices were electronically altered on the courtroom sound system and TV broadcast feed. "You are my enemy," he told one of them. He pointed to another and exclaimed, "Damn you!"

At one point, Saddam informed Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman that when he decides on a method of execution, "remember that Saddam Hussein is a military commander and should be shot by bullets, not hanged like a regular criminal." Though Saddam made himself head of the Iraqi military after becoming president in 1979, he never served in the armed forces and in fact failed the Baghdad Military Academy's entrance exam in the 1950s.

Saddam could be sentenced to death if found guilty of the Dujail killings, but Abdel-Rahman protested that it was too early in the proceedings to discuss possible punishments.

When Saddam pressed the point, Abdel-Rahman said: "I consider this an insult. ... From now on, if anyone, whoever it is, wants to impose their opinion on me, I will not stay in this position."

I'm betting the people that he had tortured and the families of those he had killed would prefer that he die by being drawn and quartered with a spoon.

Now he flails and squeaks like the vicious rat that he is.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Iraq, Hezbollah and the Middle East

Very interesting analysis of the state of things at the moment.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq has so shaken and stirred the Middle East that some exceptionally strange things are happening. More importantly, these things unequivocally favor the U.S. in influencing the outcome of the Israeli-Hezbollah War now taking place in Lebanon.

Gods Above

Oh man, you're not supposed to laugh that hard at work outside of project scheduling meetings.
Go, watch, enjoy... don't be chewing food, attempting to swallow, or breathing too very much while watching.

Bill and Hillary's Popularity


Now that that's out of the way. What was this?

As historians begin to examine the former president's legacy, and as political reporters (including The Fix) begin to analyze Sen. Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign-in-waiting, it seems like a good time to take a look at how the couple has fared in public opinion polling over the 14 years they have spent in the public eye.

I'm fairly certain that the historical take on Bill Clinton (which won't be written correctly for 60-70 years) will be about how wildly popular he was despite his serious failings, numerous flaws and huge, abiding mistakes. Hillary, hopefully, will be a secondary character like Woodrow Wilson's wife.
The rest of the discussion... What percentage of people think Elvis is living in a trailer park in Michigan and what percentage think they or a close acquaintance have been abducted by aliens?

Sad News But...

Very sad to hear about the deaths of nine Israeli soldiers. Go with god fellows.
One point, that escapes me. The headline reads "Israel Suffers Heavy Casualties" and then goes on to describe the deaths of the nine soldiers. My problem here is with the term heavy.

Maj. Zvika Golan, a spokesman for the Israeli army's Northern Command, said fighting in the last few days has killed about 200 Hezbollah fighters. "The village is absolutely not under control. . . . We walked into a wasps' nest and we knew it would be wasps' nest."

By my count, that's 22-1. If those nine Israeli soldiers were from my religion, they'd have 22 servants, each, in Valhala. I'm just curious why the headline wasn't "Hezbollah Suffers Heavy Casualties?"

Fun Videos

Go and see this video at SayUncle.

Download the one from the link in the comments as well.

Both are great and continue to prove the point that one shouldn't bring a sword to a gun-fight.

Disaster Gun Seizure Legislation

Seems this has had more support than I would have originally expected.
The House voted Tuesday to prevent law enforcement officers from confiscating legally owned guns during a national disaster or emergency.

Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said firearms seizures after Hurricane Katrina left residents unable to defend themselves.

"Many of them were sitting in their homes without power, without water, without communication,"he said."It was literally impossible to pick up a phone and call 911."

The House voted 322-99 in support of the bill. Senators voted 84-16 earlier this month to include a similar prohibition in a homeland security funding bill.

The limitation would apply to federal law enforcement or military officers, along with local police that receive federal funds.

As anticipated, those who are against the bill had little intelligence to support their position.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., repeatedly called the bill"insane."

He and some Democrats said the bill might satisfy the gun lobby, but it would put people into more danger during already perilous disasters.

"The streets of an American city immediately after a disaster are no place to abandon common sense,"said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.

Well, maybe that's just how they quoted. Or not.
The Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the measure. In a letter to Jindal, National President Chuck Canterbury said law enforcement officials concentrate on search and rescue during major disasters, and breakdowns in communications and transportation can lengthen police response times to calls.

"A law-abiding citizen who possesses a firearm lawfully represents no danger to law enforcement officers or any other first responder,"Canterbury wrote.

The police get it. At least at this level. But I'm certain that the gun grabbers would prefer that the police be going door-to-door confiscating guns instead of responding to emergencies. And in fact, that action would leave a wake of emergencies that the police wouldn't have the ability to respond to. Once the civilians are stripped of their means of defense, the criminals are free to plunder. But let's not bother pointing that out to the gun-grabbers.

Here's a link to the bill if you're interested. And here is the related senate bill.

Dave Kopel has an entry at the Volokh Conspiracy on this.

Chavez's War Machine

I'm still not understanding what all the noise is about.
The United States Tuesday again urged the Russian government to reconsider a $1 billion military aircraft sale to Venezuela. U.S. officials say Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' weapons plans exceed the country's defensive needs.

The U.S. appeal came as Mr. Chavez arrived in Moscow for a visit expected to include the signing of several weapons deals, among them the $1 billion purchase of 30 Sukhoi SU-30 jets and a like number of military helicopters.

The SU-30 is a long-range multi-role fighter jet and would be a major upgrade over aging U.S.-supplied F-16 aircraft that have been the mainstay of the Venezuelan air force.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said the United States has raised its concerns with Moscow over the proposed sale, which he said would be in the best interests of neither Russia nor Venezuela.

"We repeatedly talked to the Russian government that the arms purchases planned by Venezuela exceeded its defensive needs, and are not helpful in terms of regional stability," said Mr. Casey. "Certainly, given the fact that this aircraft costs between $30 million and $45 million each, depending which model you're talking about, kind of raises some questions about Venezuela's priorities."

I can see questioning Venezuela's priorities, but I don't see this deal as being any business of the US. Chavez is no real military threat to the US, and with this new armament, will still not be a threat. On the other hand, he may be a threat to his neighbors.

This article gives more quotes from the state department.
In Washington, US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey reiterated US concerns over the sale and suggested the money could be better used to improve the lives of Venezuelans. He urged the Russians to reconsider any potential deals for weapons contracts.

'We repeatedly talked to the Russian government (to say) that the arms purchases planned by Venezuela exceeded its defensive needs and are not helpful in terms of regional stability,' Casey said.

'Given the fact that this aircraft costs between 30 million (dollars) and 45 million (dollars) each, depending on which model you're talking about, kind of raises some questions about Venezuela's priorities,' he added.

Chavez' socialist government also aims to arm and train up to 2 million Venezuelans against a potential incursion.

Nice that they have such a concern for the welfare of the Venezuelan people, but I don't see that this does anything to aid them. In fact, this whole tirade is proving Chavez's points about American imperialism. At least at the propaganda level. The state department should just be silent and give Chavez all the rope that he wants. If he keeps up, he'll soon be swinging by that rope. Chavez is moving more into the path of other South American strong men. I find it improbable that he'll be able to manage a Castro like control over Venezuela.

UN Casualties - Koffi's Vitriol

Koffi Annan apparently still has no concept that bad things can happen in war, even to UN military forces. And as usual, he couldn't be bothered to actually have any real information on the problem before denouncing Israel completely.
Military sources said the incident occurred during an air and artillery attack near Khiyam, at the eastern region of southern Lebanon, where the IDF was preparing a large ground assault meant to create a Hezbollah-free buffer zone on the area north of Israel's border. Four members of the United Nations's interim force in Lebanon, identified as being from Canada, Austria, China, and Finland, were killed.

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a U.N. observer post in southern Lebanon," Mr. Annan said yesterday in a late-night statement released in Rome, where he is attending a meeting of top players steering attempts to find solutions in the Lebanon war.

Citing no Israeli motivation for the alleged "deliberate" attack, Mr. Annan called on Israel to "conduct a full investigation."

Israeli officials say they have an interest in avoiding targets that, if hit, would lead to widespread international pressure to end the campaign before Hezbollah's military capabilities are significantly reduced.

Israel's U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, expressed "regret for the tragic incident," adding, however, that he was "deeply distressed by the hasty statement of the secretary-general, insinuating that Israel has deliberately targeted the U.N. post Khiyam."

In a statement released last night, Mr. Gillerman called Mr. Annan's assertions "premature and erroneous." While "demanding an investigation," Mr. Annan "has already issued its conclusions," Mr. Gillerman said.

If Annan was so extremely concerned about the UN personnel, he should have moved them out as soon as the conflict started. Not that they were doing anything of any benefit to anyone by their presence. With the fact that Hezbollah intentionally hides behind non-combatants to draw fire on them, you'd think that Annan might want to hold his tongue. But then, I'm certain that Annan assumes that the UN blue is a perfect guarantee to be protected by all sides in a conflict.
"Furthermore," Mr. Annan added, "General Alain Pelligrini, the U.N. Force Commander in south Lebanon, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to protect that particular U.N. position from attack."

Mr. Annan, who according to diplomats was accompanied by the U.N. peacekeeping chief, Undersecretary-General Jean Marie Guehenno, as he released the statement, believes he could not promote placing an international force in southern Lebanon if he does not appear to support his troops, according to a source familiar with yesterday's statement.

Mr. Guehenno had a long dispute with Israel several years ago, when he had insisted that UNIFIL did not possess a videocassette depicting the Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. The cassette, videotaped by UNIFIL troops, eventually surfaced and the U.N. was forced to apologize and launch an internal investigation.

Interesting that Guehenno couldn't support putting in UN forces into Lebanon. I find it unlikely that Israel would agree in any case, mainly due to the UN force's well know record on not being able to do anything but hide.

More of the same from that bastion of humanity, the UN.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wow - Even in Salon

Holy moly. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are more people who are able to see this for what it truly is.

It doesn't take a right-winger to view the stakes as existential. "This is a different kind of war, and an old kind of war," rabbi and author Daniel Gordis, a peace activist during the Oslo period, wrote last week. "Rage has given way to sadness. Disbelief has given way to recognition. Because we've been here before. Because we'd once believed we wouldn't be back here again. And because we know why this war is happening."

Seriously, these are not victims of Fox News saying these things.
Orna Shimoni, whose son was killed during Israel's occupation of south Lebanon after the 1982 invasion, was one of the founders of the "Four Mothers" campaign that called for withdrawal. Even she, in a commentary for the Israeli Web site Ynet News, endorsed the current attacks. "It is clear that we were attacked inside our own sovereign territory, with no provocation at all," she wrote. "There is no question that we must now strengthen both the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and our political echelon to allow them to obtain two main objectives: Bringing our kidnapped soldiers home and disarming Hezbollah, and pushing that organization away from the Israel-Lebanon border."

To all intents & purposes, that's like Cindy Sheehan calling on the president to send more troops to Iraq.
I would have supported Israel anyway. I've always admired the scrappy little country. But when presented with these facts, I can't understand why anyone, anywhere doesn't interpret what Israel is doing as a just act:
Compromise might have worked had the conflict indeed remained one that, like the Cold War, pitted two rational, secular adversaries against each other. But in Hezbollah, as well as in Hamas, Israel now faces an opponent that holds to the absolutism of religious doctrine, specifically the messianic martyrdom of jihadist Islam. The assaults by Hamas from Gaza and Hezbollah from Lebanon both came after Israeli withdrawals to borders accepted by the United Nations. For six years in south Lebanon and one year in Gaza, there has been no occupation, and Ehud Olmert built a centrist governing coalition in Israel on the promise of pulling out from most of the West Bank.

Leftist = Sore Loser?

This appears to be the case. Now that every election in the US that is lost by the candidate of the left was stolen in some arcane fashion that involves Democratic election committees willingly helping Republicans without so much as leaving any real evidence, we're exporting those attitudes south of the border.

"It's good that we have the institutions to channel the challenges," said Carlos Heredia, who became a leading adviser to candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas after his loss in the contested 1988 presidential election. "What has me concerned is whether the institutions have the confidence of the citizenry -- that's the big question in the air."

Doggone it, it's the same issues we had up here. The rules are the rules. Just because you don't care for the outcome, you can't change the rules and rescore the game. If they really wanted anything except their guy to win, they'd be advocating changes to the laws to prevent any actual or perceived manipulation. Instead, I think we're going to get the dreaded paper mache puppets followed by violence.
Dozens of large posters, installed downtown by well-known artists who support a recount, have been torn apart, presumably by vandals who don't.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the runner-up, has called for "peaceful civil resistance." And there are fears that López Obrador's mostly poor followers could resort to violence if their calls for a full recount fail.

Maybe Because... It's a war

Things like this make me a bit crazy.

Destroying the Beirut airport, blasting communications towers into oblivion and cleansing southern Lebanon of its civilian population are not measures the world will see as an attack on Hezbollah terrorists.

The "world" doesn't see anything that Israel does as an attack on terrorists. Israel is not a wee small nation surrounded by people who want to destroy it, it's a big giant bully terrorizing all it's neighbors, according to the "world."
Reality. The airport is a good target when fighting a war because that's where extra arms & ammunition & reinforcements are going to come from, same thing with the bridges & roads. Communication towers, now why on earth would you want to disrupt communication during a war? Oh, maybe in order to keep they enemy off balance & unable to quickly respond to your initiatives. "Celansing southern Lebanon of its civilian population" I'm assuming means chasing everyone out unless this is a statement that Israel is taking part in ethnic cleansing, of which I'd want proof. So, they're chasing away the civilians instead of killing them? And that's bad? Color me confused.
Hezbollah's stature in the Arab world is growing

Even as its membership is shrinking.
which should lead them to question whether a few weeks of bombing will do the trick.

No. Which is why they are invading & bulldozing terrorist bunkers & strongholds. They're cleaning the terrorists out of the area and will withdraw, because they have learned their lesson in regards to occupation and clearly want none of it. Still, I wouldn't call it scortched earth unless they're also burning crops & poisoning wells, etc.. See, words have meaning & scortched earth, as a military policy, has methods, few of which seem to be at play here.
Anyway, luckily, right in the same paper (the NYT might try balanced opinion pieces some time) is a different point of view. Further, we get it in language that I understand:
It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.

And kick you in the groin & blow out a knee & pop a few ribs... That's all assuming you don't try to fight back. I like Israel's approach. It is appropriate. They didn't start this fight, but they are sure as hell going to end it (at least this battle).
Gaza, too, was a retreat. There are many ways to mask it but no way to change the reality. The government of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon concluded that Israel was incapable of controlling a densely populated area full of people who hated the occupation. Israel will in due course reach the same conclusion when it comes to the West Bank, although the present war has almost certainly set back that timetable. The fact remains that for Israel to survive, it must withdraw to boundaries that are easily defensible and hard to breach.

It's clear now that those boundaries -- a wall, a fence, a whatever -- are immaterial when it comes to missiles. Hezbollah, with the aid of Iran and Syria, has shown that it is no longer necessary to send a dazed suicide bomber over the border -- all that is needed is the requisite amount of thrust and a warhead. That being the case, it's either stupid or mean for anyone to call for proportionality. The only way to ensure that babies don't die in their cribs and old people in the streets is to make the Lebanese or the Palestinians understand that if they, no matter how reluctantly, host those rockets, they will pay a very, very steep price.

Absolute truth. It's the only right answer. Why is this so hard for people to fathom?
He finishes with:
These calls for proportionality rankle. They fall on my ears not as genteel expressions of fairness, some ditsy Marquess of Queensberry idea of war, but as ugly sentiments pregnant with antipathy toward the only democratic state in the Middle East. After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of mayhem and murder, the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel's enemies want that, they can have it in a moment.

Again, complete agreement.

Sustainable Energy

First off, skip the global warming arguments. The good science is still out on that question. Let's instead focus on the more intelligent arguments, cleaner energy and sustainable energy. Cleaner because, global warming or not, polluting less is just a good thing, in and of itself. Sustainable because, while we probably have another couple of hundred years worth of oil left in the world, we ONLY have a couple of hundred years worth of oil left. Preserving it for possible future needs just seems to make sense.
Now, that said, I agree with question being asked here:

What has happened to such far-out and disruptive -- but not necessarily unfeasible -- visions for a renewable-energy future? Right now, hundreds of new coal plants are on drawing boards around the world.

I don't agree that government has the answer. The author mentions the viability of wind power, which I support. However, our biggest (in every sense) big government support, Teddy "The Tick" Kennedy has done everything in his power to wack a modest wind power initiative here in MA. Unlike a lot of the commenters to the article that suggest that big business is the problem, in this example at least, it's government that's the problem.
I suspect that the best solutions for energy are going to prove to be coming from the private sector if only we can get government taxes & regulations out of the way. More nuclear power as well as wind. Solar... that's still pie in the sky stuff, but what the hey, toss it into the mix. One of the only things that Carter did in office was to cut taxes on alternate energy. More of that and maybe other tax breaks based on energy saving products, etc. Make the stuff viable to business and the consumer and it will get used.
Read the comments. They're more informative than the article.

Koffi and Kerry - Kompletely Klueless Klowns

The news related to these two is just pathetic. Let's start with Koffi Annan:
Kofi Annan said today that the creation of a stabilization force for violence-torn Lebanon would give the Government "time to organize and prepare" to extend its authority over the entire country. Such a force would be much larger than the current 2,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force already in the south.

"The situation is very urgent, and it is imperative that the international community acts to end the fighting," said Mr. Annan.

"Obviously it's a Council decision," Mr. Annan told reporters in Brussels, where he is attending a conference for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan.

He was replying to questions about the proposal first made with the British Prime Minister for an action-oriented package of measures to end the violence in Lebanon that included "a multi-national force of well-equipped troops that can go in quite quickly."
Yes, that is just what is needed, to throw a large UN force into a theater of war to muddle around, get in the way and get killed, all while doing nothing to stop Hezbollah terrorists and ensuring that Hezbollah has another bunch of people to hide behind. I'd be less cynical if the UNIFIL forces that have been on the scene hadn't been known to have done absolutely nothing when Hezbollah was attacking and kidnapping Israeli's. This suggestion is so pathetic that it is truly laughable.

Then there is dear ole John Kerry.
"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor.

Bush has been so concentrated on the war in Iraq that other Middle East tension arose as a result, he said.

"The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle East," Kerry said. "We're going to have a lot of ground to make up (in 2008) because of it."

So Kerry provided the following action plan on what he would have done.

Hezbollah guerillas should have been targeted with other terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban, which operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kerry said. However, Bush, has focused military strength on Iraq.

"This is about American security and Bush has failed. He has made it so much worse because of his lack of reality in going into Iraq.Â…We have to destroy Hezbollah," he said.

Yes that is a big blank, I don't see any suggestion on how he would have targeted Hezbollah. I'm wondering if he's suggesting that he would have invaded Lebanon to target them. But then, I wonder how he gets around the very real possibility that Al-Qaeda would have moved into Iraq if he had had his way and we had not invaded Iraq, or as by his proposal, we had run out as quickly as possible. I'm sure he discounts Iraq ever having had the chance of becoming a haven for terrorists.

Stop the ACLU has more commentary on Kerry.

Pakistan Planes and Plutonium

They're SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED that Pakistan is building a new Breeder reactor to create plutonium. Why they are shocked I don't know. I was surprised that they hadn't a greater plutonium capacity already.
The reactor, which reportedly will be capable of producing enough plutonium for as many as 50 bombs each year, was brought to light on Sunday by independent analysts who spotted the partially completed plant in commercial-satellite photos. Snow said the administration had "known of these plans for some time."

The acknowledgment came as arms-control experts and some in Congress expressed alarm about a possible escalation of South Asia's arms race. Some also sharply criticized the administration for failing to disclose the existence of a facility that could influence an upcoming congressional debate over U.S. nuclear policy toward India and Pakistan.

"If either India or Pakistan starts increasing its nuclear arsenal, the other side will respond in kind," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-chairman of a House bipartisan task force on nonproliferation. "The Bush administration's proposed nuclear deal with India is making that much more likely."

Markey, the man most like to be upset by the obvious, appears to want to stop the deal with India because suddenly Pakistan has new capabilities. Completely forgetting that the civilian nuclear power technology isn't needed to create plutonium, and the fact that India has been very staunch in preventing the spread of nuclear technologies from its country.

Both countries already possess nuclear weapons. We should be more nervous about Pakistan increasing its capabilities, but that doesn't mean we should stop working with India when they have clearly shown an excellent record on non-proliferation. The sales of F-16s to Pakistan should be more worrisome. Pakistan isn't nearly as stable a country and the present military dictatorship may come crashing down. If Pakistan is destabilized, then the likelihood of misuse of the F-16s and the nuclear materials is to be worried about. Unfortunately, I don't see much that the US can do about the plutonium. The planes on the other hand can be controlled, though at present there is some incentive for the US to aid Pakistan, who has been assisting (somewhat) in the war on terror.

Then you get these types of comments that give one pause:
Henry D. Sokolski, the Defense Department's top nonproliferation official during the George H.W. Bush administration, said he was most surprised by the way news of the reactor in Pakistan became known.

"What is baffling is that this information -- which was surely information that our own intelligence agencies had -- was kept from Congress," said Sokolski, now director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. "We lack imagination if we think that this is no big deal."

There is a huge assumption here. That being that the Administration willfully hid the information from congress. I'd like to look at it the other way around. Did congress, or any of its committees, request information on the reactors or plutonium production in Pakistan? Let's just conjecture that the Administration would take the task of telling congress every bit of intelligence that someone may want, would the congress be able to handle the amount of information? Who decides what should be just sent to them? Personally, the thought that the Administration should be deciding what information to send unsolicited to congress is just stupid.

I'd say that Sokolski has a bit too much imagination, or that he's spinning for some political purpose.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Where are the Middle-Eastern Conflicts Going

Niall Ferguson OpEd. His analysis of the Israeli/Hezbollah situation seems reasonable. Though the part of the article that makes the strongest statement is in regards to Islamic sectarian violence.
Yet the biggest ethnic conflict in the Middle East today is not between Jews and Arabs. It is between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. With every passing day, the character of violence in Iraq shifts from that of an anti-American insurgency to that of a sectarian civil war. More than 100 civilians a day were killed in Iraq last month, according to the United Nations, bringing the civilian death toll this year to a staggering 14,000-plus. A rising proportion of those being killed are victims of sectarian violence. For Israel, spiraling Sunni-Shiite conflict is a dark cloud with a silver lining. The worse it gets, the harder it will be for Israel's enemies to make common cause. (Fact: Syria is 74% Sunni; Iran is 89% Shiite.) But for the United States, such conflict, emanating from a country supposedly liberated by American arms, must surely be a cause for concern.
Iraq isn't stabilizing. That should be abundantly clear. The majority of the provinces are reaching stability, but the bad ones are getting slowly worse. Reports of insurgent attacks against the American military appear to be slowly getting smaller, though this is likely due to their being overshadowed by news about large death rates due to sectarian violence. Concern is more than justified in this case.

A stable Iraq would be a boon for the US. The democracy stabilizing and moving forward as a catalyst for change in other Middle-Eastern states would be beneficial for everyone. But that doesn't appear to be what is happening. There appears to be little ethnic strife, though that could be partly due to the vagueness of the reports on who is killing whom.

Max Boot has an OpEd that states that Israel should really be going forward against Syria as well as Hezbollah.
The real problem is that Israel's response has been all too proportional. So far it has only gone after Hamas and Hezbollah. (Some collateral damage is inevitable because these groups hide among civilians.) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is showing superhuman restraint by not, at the very least, "accidentally" bombing the Syrian and Iranian embassies in Beirut, which serve as Hezbollah liaison offices.

It's hard to know what accounts for this Israeli restraint, for which, of course, it gets no thanks. It may just be a matter of time before the gloves come off. Or Olmert may be afraid of upsetting the regional status quo. The American neocon agenda of regime change is not one that finds favor with most Israelis (ironic, considering how often the rest of the world has denounced neocons as Mossad agents). The Israeli attitude toward neighboring dictators is "better the devil you know." That may make sense with Jordan and Egypt, which have made peace with Israel, but not with Syria, which serves as a vital conduit between Tehran and Hamas and Hezbollah.

He also points out that the present situation is due to American inaction. Though I find this a bit harsh.
The U.S. should have done more to stop Syria from supporting not only the terrorists targeting Israel but those targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. Syrian strongman Bashar Assad appeared to be down for the count when a U.N. investigation found evidence linking his regime to the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. But Bush let him get up off the mat. Senior U.S. officials keep proclaiming that Syria's support for terrorism is unacceptable, but by not doing more to stop it, they have tacitly accepted it.

The same is true of Iran. The mullahs continue to develop nuclear weapons and smuggle explosives into Iraq, and our only response has been talk and more talk. Perhaps this is a prelude to eventual military action, but in the meantime the administration should have done more to aid internal foes of the mullahocracy. It has taken until no —five years into the Bush presidency - for the U.S. to commit any serious money ($66 million) for Iranian democracy promotion, and the State Department has blocked efforts on Capitol Hill to spend even more.

I find the statement highlighted as being of limited value. I'd like to know what exactly the US could have done in addition to restrain Syrian support for terrorism. Seeing that they are already a fairly isolated country and knowing that military action was off the table, I find any other actions to be moot. Trade sanctions or other punitive actions would have merely irritated the Syrians and produced no changes.

As for the Iranian democracy promotion funding, I'm skeptical as to how effective it really is. The control of the population by the theocrats in Iran has been quite strong. Control of media access by the people has been limited and the counter propaganda I'm betting has been very strong. I don't doubt that the propaganda is effective to a minor extent in building discourse against the Mullahs, but I am skeptical that it could or will ever have a strong effect for change.

VD Hanson also comments that its time for Israel to move. He provides this perspective as to who is sponsoring the present attacks against Israel and why.
We can answer these absurdities by summing up the war very briefly. Iran and Syria feel the noose tightening around their necks - especially the ring of democracies in nearby Afghanistan , Iraq , Turkey , and perhaps Lebanon . Even the toothless U.N. finally is forced to focus on Iranian nukes and Syrian murder plots. And neither Syria can overturn the Lebanese government nor can Iran the Iraqi democracy. Instead, both are afraid that their rhetoric may soon earn some hard bombing, since their "air defenses" are hardly defenses at all.

So they tell Hamas and Hezbollah to tap their missile caches, kidnap a few soldiers, and generally try to turn the worldÂ’s attention to the collateral damage inflicted on "refugees" by a stirred-up Zionist enemy.

For their part, the terrorist killers hope to kidnap, ransom, and send off missiles, and then, when caught and hit, play the usual victim card of racism, colonialism, Zionism, and about every other -ism that they think will win a bailout from some guilt-ridden, terrorist-frightened, Jew-hating, or otherwise oil-hungry Western nation.

The only difference from the usual scripted Middle East war is that this time, privately at least, most of the West, and perhaps some in the Arab world as well, want Israel to wipe out Hezbollah, and perhaps hit Syria or Iran . The terrorists and their sponsors know this, and rage accordingly when their military impotence is revealed to a global audience - especially after no reprieve is forthcoming to save their "pride" and "honor."
Hanson's analysis finally comes to pointing out that Israel should act and finish the conflict by crushing Hezbollah.
What should the United States do? If it really cares about human life and future peace, then we should talk ad nauseam about "restraint" and "proportionality" while privately assuring Israel the leeway to smash both Hamas and Hezbollah - and humiliate Syria and Iran, who may well come off very poorly from their longed-for but bizarre war.

Only then will Israel restore some semblance of deterrence and strengthen nascent democratic movements in both Lebanon and even the West Bank . This is the truth that everyone from London to Cairo knows, but dares not speak. So for now, let us pray that the brave pilots and ground commanders of the IDF can teach these primordial tribesmen a lesson that they will not soon forget - and thus do civilization’s dirty work on the other side of the proverbial Rhine.

In this regard, it is time to stop the silly slurs that American policy in the Middle East is either in shambles or culpable for the present war. In fact, if we keep our cool, the Bush doctrine is working. Both Afghans and Iraqis each day fight and kill Islamist terrorists; neither was doing so before 9/11. Syria and Iran have never been more isolated; neither was isolated when Bill Clinton praised the "democracy" in Tehran or when an American secretary of State sat on the tarmac in Damascus for hours to pay homage to Syria's gangsters. Israel is at last being given an opportunity to unload on jihadists; that was impossible during the Arafat fraud that grew out of the Oslo debacle. Europe is waking up to the dangers of radical Islamism; in the past, it bragged of its aid and arms sales to terrorist governments from the West Bank to Baghdad .
I'm not quite as enthusiastic about the Bush doctrines success at this time. Hanson's point about the terrorists may be true, but the problem of sectarian violence is still to be solved. I agree that the IDF should just stomp Hezbollah and get it over with. The sooner the better. By killing the Hezbollah terrorists with limited restraint they will likely save more lives in the long run. I am wondering why they have been so restrained to this point.

It is odd that so much of the world, and in fact Arab nations, want to see Hezbollah gone. It's definitely not the script that has been used for many years.

ACLU: Choosing Wrong Again

I generally loathe the ACLU. Rarely do they make a stand that isn't following the PC line of the extreme liberal left. But this proves that they just don't have a clue.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., on behalf of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church, which has outraged mourning communities by picketing service members' funerals with signs condemning homosexuality.

The church and the Rev. Fred Phelps say God is allowing troops, coal miners and others to be killed because the United States tolerates gay men and lesbians.
Makes you wonder about the logic behind this. What next? Probably start defending the right to yell fire in a crowded theater.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tour de France Was Won by Another American

Heh, This must really be torquing the French off.

The 30-year-old Landis cruised to victory on the cobblestones of the Champs-Elysees, a day after regaining the leader's yellow jersey and building an insurmountable lead in the final time trial.

"I kept fighting, never stopped believing," Landis said, shortly after he received the winner's yellow jersey on the podium, joined by his daughter, Ryan.

Pretty amazing time trial. Wonder what the French press will start with to try and discredit Landis.

Truth in Pictures

Wow! A near perfect illustration. Just had to share.


That's the nicest thing I can say about this one. I had to share.

True Statements

Including a reference to Sherman's March to the Sea. I'm becoming more and more convinced that a really thorough war (with all the complete horror that it will bring with it) is what's needed in the Middle East. Stop trying to avoid entanglements with the crazed leaders of Iran & Syria. Instead, entangle them right up to their throats. I've seen the same arguments from Victor Davis Hanson, Niall Ferguson and others. Undecided, truncated wars, never end. Korea is a shining example, but there are others that include, not least, the Middle East. Otherwise, we are looking at another fifty years of staring down the barrel at North Korea, at more 7/7's and 9/11's, more missiles & rockets raining down on Israel and that is not a pretty thought.
So, I'd like to resubmit my support for John Murtha's pullout. Let's just do it correctly. We'll leave by way of Tripoli, knocking down anything we need to in order to get there. We'll evacuate the troops from Afghanistan the same way. Then, we can pull back over the "horizon" to Okinawa like Murtha wants.
For those slow on the uptake, look at a map to see where Tripoli is and what lies between it and Iraq and it and Afghanistan.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bloomberg Being Sued for Illegal Gun Investigation

Cam Edwards quotes this:

Attorney and former Congressman Bob Barr announced today that he and the Law Offices of Edwin Marger, of which he is Of Counsel and is located in Jasper, Georgia, will be pursuing legal action against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on behalf of Adventure Outdoors. Bloomberg, in May of this year, named Adventure Outdoors, a family owned hunting supply business in Smyrna, Georgia, in a federal lawsuit against "rogue gun dealers."

Bloomberg conspired with others named in the lawsuit to deceive Adventure Outdoors in order to falsely and fraudulently purchase a firearm. By doing so, the conspirators falsified an ATF form which is a clear violation of federal and Georgia laws. Furthermore, Bloomberg then released misleading statements to national news media, which damaged the reputation and business of Adventure Outdoors in this scheme to defame and violate the law.

In his statement, Barr expressed his confidence in a successful outcome for Adventure Outdoors and further stated that "Mayor Bloomberg's and the other players' actions were careless, willful and clearly illegal."

Edwards also mentions that the ATF is investigating Bloomberg's activities. My only question is, what the hell is taking the ATF so long to make a determination? If the people Bloomberg hired to make the purchases actually did lie on the ATF forms, then they have committed a felony. If they merely purchased the firearms and have retained them without handing them over to Bloomberg, then Bloomberg is LYING, and his suit against the firearms dealers is frivolous.

I really really hope this puts a boot in on Bloomberg.

Hezbollah Not an Amateur Terrorist Group

CounterterrorismBlog has this on Hezbollah.
The Hezbollah fighters are well trained, and according to an anonymous senior military source, using ammunition and equipment such as armor piercing rounds, body armor, night vision gear and laser sights. Hezbollah also possesses mortars, RPGs, anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, anti-tank missiles and possibly surface to air missiles to accompany their arsenal of short and medium range missiles capable of striking into the heart of Israeli territory. Hezbollah is using infantry tactics and fighting at the squad and platoon level.

This isn't a garden variety militia, but a well trained fighting force, the Iranian version of the Foreign Legion. This is highlighted by Olivier Guitta, who points out some interesting facts from the Arabic version of an Asharq Al-Awsat article which explained the Iranian's involvement in training Hezbollah and supplying the group with its rocket arsenal:

200 Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been stationed in Lebanon since 1990. They have married Shia Lebanese women, mostly "Hezbollah widows" and have changed their names to Lebanese names. They installed over twenty fixed rocket bases in the Bekaa Valley and provided Hezbollah with mobile bases to launch rockets. Furthermore a secret elite force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard composed of about twenty men is watching the Israel Defense Forces' every move with very sophisticated high-tech material and then deciding on the targets to hit inside Israel.

What we are seeing today is the direct result of the state sponsorship of a terrorist entity after it has gone unchecked for over two decades. Hezbollah has evolved from a terrorist, paramilitary group into the most effective fighting force in Lebanon, capable of conducting professional operations and using sophisticated weapons. The training camps in the Bekaa Valley are not only churning out fighters for Hezbollah, but train other terrorist organizations, exporting the dangerous tactics being used today in Lebanon, much like the training camps in Afghanistan served as a breeding grounds of today's crop of terrorists.

So, what perspective does that put on the idea of Proportionate force? Did I also mention the bit about the bunker network?
Hezbollah also has built an extensive underground networks, including "fortified underground bunkers some 40 meters (roughly 120 feet) underground, along with mass weapons caches" and communications systems. All of this was built under the nose of the Israeli military and intelligence services, as well as the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Yeah, sounds like proportionate force hasn't been applied yet.

Israel will have to have an incursion into Lebanon if it truly wants to rid themselves, even temporarily, of this threat. I don't believe there is a way to remove Hezbollah permanently unless the Lebanese prevent their reformation after Israel destroys their present facilities.

You certainly understand that the UN won't be doing anything at all. Considering they haven't done anything in the time they have been there. Kofi Annan is demanding an immediate cease-fire.
Annan's proposal contained several suggestions: Firstly, that the two kidnapped soldiers be transferred immediately from Hizbullah to the Lebanese government. Secondly, that an international force be placed on the Lebanese side of the border in order to increase security. Thirdly, that Lebanon take control over its sovereign territory as required by UNSCR 1559. Fourthly, that an international committee be convened to determine a timetable for the quick implementation of Security Council decisions and the disarmament of Hizbullah.

The secretary-general also proposed that the UN help with the rehabilitation of Lebanon. He emphasized that UNIFIL's (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) mandate is coming to an end at this time, and that the UN must decided whether to cease interim force activities, strengthen the force, or replace it with another force.
Interesting, but I'm highly skeptical that the enforcement of UNSCR will be coming into play. There isn't anyone to enforce it, considering that Hezbollah is likely to resist or just go underground and the fact that the UN is pretty much useless when it really comes down to enforcing anything. That part about using "force" always seems to stop them.

Oh, and let's not forget that the EU is still trying to decide if Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. You'd think that would be obvious.
Europe's reluctance to designate Hezbollah, results in part from France's resistance to cutting off its own ties with Hezbollah which also is one of Lebanon's principal political groupings. The French have gone along, however, with designating Hizbollah's Security Chief, Imad Mughniyat as a terrorist. But Hizbollah's Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah and the Hizbollah organization itself are not on the EU list. French courts seem to have a somewhat different vision of Hizbollah. In December 2004 France's highest administive court, the Conseil d'État, led the way in Europe to shutting down broadcasts from Europe of Hizbollah's Al Manar Television Channel. The Court ordered Eutelsat to stop broadcasting Al Manar programming which it held violated France's laws against incitement to hatred and public endangerment. In March 2005, EU broadcasting regulators agreed also to ban all al Manar satellite broadcasts from Europe.
Odd, isn't it?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Proportionality and War Crimes

This NYTimes article at least shows that all sides of the conflict are being held to the standard and not just Israel. My question is, if a person allows a terrorist to store missiles in their home, does that make them a combatant or a civilian? I'm guessing that the Red Cross would call them a civilian.
The United Nations' top human rights official said Wednesday that the killing and maiming of civilians under attack in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza and the West Bank could constitute war crimes.

"The scale of killings in the region, and their predictability, could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly those in a position of command and control," said Louise Arbour, the high commissioner for human rights.
Here is another reason why terrorists shouldn't be accorded the protections of the Geneva Conventions, they have no recognized structure that can be held accountable. But then, by definition, isn't a terrorist a war criminal?
"International humanitarian law is clear on the supreme obligations to protect civilians during hostilities," she said. That same obligation exists, she added, in international criminal law, which defines war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"Indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians," she said in a statement released by her Geneva office. "Similarly, the bombardment of sites with alleged innocent civilians is unjustifiable."

The Swiss-based International Red Cross, the recognized guardian of the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war, said Wednesday that Israel had violated the principle of proportionality provided for in the Conventions and their protocols.

It also noted that Hezbollah was firing rockets into northern Israel. "Hezbollah fighters too are bound by the rules of international humanitarian law, and they must not target civilian areas," it said.

I really would like to know how the IRC has made the determination that the Israeli actions were out of proportion with the threat. The Principle of Proportionality isn't as simple as the IRC is making it out to be. In fact, I would say that this article gives a better view of what the reality of the situation is.
Many legal experts say Israel's response to the recent abductions has not upheld the principle of proportionality and violates international humanitarian law. "Every nation has a right to defend its citizens," says David M. Crane, a professor at Syracuse University College of Law, "but you must launch an attack in a proportional way and can't cause unnecessary suffering for civilians." Israel was criticized by some European governments and the UN secretary general for targeting Gaza's sole power plant and knocking out power to half of the region's 1.3 million Palestinians. The Geneva Conventions prohibit armed reprisals that intentionally inflict collective punishment against civilian populations as well as the targeting of nonmilitary targets. But some legal experts say during wartime, separating legitimate military from civilian targets can be tricky. "Virtually no target can, ipso facto, be delisted from a list of potential military targets," says Michael J. Glennon, professor of international law at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. "A hospital or church, if defended by enemy troops, becomes a military target." That includes electric grids, he adds.
This further makes my point about terrorist activity. Since the enemy in this context is a non-state entity, who chooses to hide among the civilians and use them as part of their support structure, that makes the reactions of the Israeli's far more justified. They should attempt to minimize non-combatant deaths, but if a civilian chooses to store rockets/missiles in their homes, they have removed themselves from the right to protections as non-combatants.

If they are not willing participants in the terrorist activities, then they have the choice of walking away. I find it improbable that the vast majority of those storing weapons for Hezbollah are being forced to stay with the weapons and opportunity to flee.

Unfortunately, I believe that Israel will shortly lose most of its international support for the present issue. The international community has been far too willing to condone terrorist activity when the party which was attacked had the gall to defend themselves. Those making the judgments sit in a tranquil environment and decide what is proportionate. It would be interesting if their chair were placed in harms way how their judgment would be altered.