Monday, December 31, 2007

Oh, Please...

I read a little on all of the candidates. Hillary has been just pathetic. I just don't understand this response to Obama's statements. (Especially since he's got nothing to actually speak of on the topic from his own "experience."
Ever since Barack Obama suggested Hillary Clinton's eight years as first lady were a glorified tea party a few days back, she's looked for an opening to strike back.

On Saturday night in Dubuque she pounced, arguing she risked her life on White House missions in the 1990s, including a hair-raising flight into Bosnia that ended in a "corkscrew" landing and a sprint off the tarmac to dodge snipers.

"I don't remember anyone offering me tea," she quipped.

The dictum around the Oval Office in the '90s, she added, was: "If a place was too dangerous, too poor or too small, send the first lady."

It turns out that Clinton wasn't quite flying solo into harm's way that day.

She was, in fact, leading a goodwill entourage that included baggy-pants funnyman Sinbad, singer Sheryl Crow and Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, then 15, according to an account of the March 1995 trip in her autobiography "Living History."

As the plane approached the runway, the pilot ordered the Clintons into the armored front of the plane, Clinton writes.

What's not clear is whether Sinbad or Crow were invited to the cockpit or had to brave it out in the unprotected rear.
Nauseating. Can anyone actually tell me of any place she went where she wasn't so heavily guarded where she would have been less safe than if she was anyone else walking down a street in the US?

Then there is Huckabee:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) told reporters Monday that he was pulling a negative ad designed to target his chief rival in Iowa, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

Then he showed the ad to a room packed wall to wall with reporters.

When asked if it is hypocritical to make an announcement about not running negative ads, and then show a negative advertisement to dozens of members of the national and local media, Huckabee said he had to show the ad to prove its existence.

“I want to show you that we were fully prepared,” Huckabee said.

What a loser. Like saying "I wouldn't shoot anyone" while carrying a gun. Almost to the point of bragging that he was good when he prepared (and no doubt paid) to do something bad.
At the end of the ad, Huckabee again makes the point that Romney’s attacks on him have been “desperate and dishonest.”

“If a man’s dishonest to obtain a job, he’ll be dishonest on the job,” Huckabee says in the ad.

Interesting. Though I'm going to be cynical and see this as being about as honest as Romney.

Well, if you expect a politician to be honest, you're living in the wrong time.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Parade Magazine's Poll.

These two questions got me.

8. If you had to be stranded on an island with one person for a week, which of the following would you choose?

Stephen Colbert -- 29%
Hillary Clinton -- 23%
Barack Obama -- 19%
George W. Bush -- 17%
Rudy Giuliani -- 12%
Colbert on a desert island? Yeah. I'm thinking I'd end up feeding all of these to the sharks after a couple of days.
12. Who is the most annoying celebrity?

Rosie O'Donnell -- 44%
Paris Hilton -- 24%
Ann Coulter -- 16%
Heather Mills McCartney -- 12%
Perez Hilton -- 4%
Yep. These are all extremely annoying. Rosie on the desert island would be an instant source of bait.

I really dislike celebrities.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mentos and Beer

You've seen the games with Mentos and Diet Coke, but have you seen those with various beers?


God these crack me up.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Calls for Cthulu

Pretty interesting site sent to me by Rustmeister.

You don't see this theme around much. Which is really too bad since so much of the comic book and horror film effects have dabbled in the look at least. Watching HellBoy the other night and its just so very close to the Lovecraft vision.

I really like the "Baby's First Mythos" that the link to.
This is a great idea. From the horror writer C. J. Henderson, this book teaches your child their ABC’s by way of the Cthulhu Mythos. I haven’t read it yet (my order’s shipping now), but the comments on the book suggest that it’s not just funny, it also informs you about the Mythos. Apparently, they have little poems for each letter. I can’t wait to see how they rhymed “Nyarlthotep”.
Heh. Got to love that.

Oh and if you haven't caught the "Calls for Cthulhu" videos give it a look.

Freaky Photoshop Contest

At Freaking News.

They replace the eyes with a version of their mouth. The picture of Hillary made me nauseous.

Some People have way too much time on their hands.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Iraq's Tet Offensive

Interesting article. I was peeved when I started reading it but then Austin Bay got to the point that immediately leaped to my mind.
Their "ultimate Iraqi Tet" would feature simultaneous terror strikes in every major Iraqi city. These simultaneous strikes would inflict hideous civilian casualties with the goal of discrediting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's and General David Petraeus' assessments that Iraqi internal security has improved. The terrorists would reduce Iraqi government buildings to rubble. Striking the Green Zone would be the media coup de grace, intentionally echoing North Vietnam's assault on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. Al Qaeda terrorists would also attack Shia shrines. Kidnapping or assassinating of senior Iraqi leaders would be another objective.

Actually executing a genuine Giap Tet-type offensive in Iraq, however, borders on fantasy. On a daily basis Iraq's assorted terrorist organizations and militia gangs want to cause such system-shaking, simultaneous carnage, but they don't because, well, they can't. A Giap Tet requires a level of coordination the terrorists have never exhibited because they simply don't have it. It requires internal Iraqi political support that the terror cadres and militias lack; fear is not a political program.

I have to agree with his suspicion that Al Qaeda will try something of that sort. The problem will be quieting the MSM and the Dems who will no doubt begin screeching that we've failed when it will be nothing more than a minor bump.

The other thing to realize is that the Military is likely watching for this and are doing the best that they can to be prepared to stave off any such attempt to derail the progress that has been seen.

Encryption Passwords and the Fifth Amendment

The case isn't pretty, but the reading of the case law around this is pretty frightening. In this case the Judge finds that subpoenaing the password to open an encrypted file or directory is a violation of the fifth amendment. Orin Kerr pretty clearly shows why he disagrees, and I find it disturbing that case law does in fact fly in the face of logic, never mind common sense.

The case is found here.
A federal judge in Vermont has ruled that prosecutors can't force a criminal defendant accused of having illegal images on his hard drive to divulge his PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) passphrase.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier ruled that a man charged with transporting child pornography on his laptop across the Canadian border has a Fifth Amendment right not to turn over the passphrase to prosecutors. The Fifth Amendment protects the right to avoid self-incrimination.

A second reason this case is unusual is that Boucher was initially arrested when customs agents stopped him and searched his laptop when he and his father crossed the border from Canada on December 17, 2006. An officer opened the laptop, accessed the files without a password or passphrase, and allegedly discovered "thousands of images of adult pornography and animation depicting adult and child pornography."

Boucher was read his Miranda rights, waived them, and allegedly told the customs agents that he may have downloaded child pornography. But then--and this is key--the laptop was shut down after Boucher was arrested. It wasn't until December 26 that a Vermont Department of Corrections officer tried to access the laptop--prosecutors obtained a subpoena on December 19--and found that the Z: drive was encrypted with PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy. (PGP sells software, including whole disk encryption and drive-specific encryption. It's a little unclear what exactly happened, but one likely scenario is that Boucher configured PGP to forget his passphrase, effectively re-encrypting the Z: drive, after a few hours or days had elapsed.)

So the lesson I get from this is:

Password protect your computer and don't let anyone in without a warrant.
Never waive your Miranda rights.
If you're going to encrypt use something smart like TrueCrypt.

The Candidates

Huckabee bothers me. I really hate these staged hunting photo ops.

Presidential contender Mike Huckabee bagged a pheasant Wednesday, offering Iowa voters the image of an experienced outdoorsman on the hunt, shotgun blasting and dogs braying.

Just a campaign gambit? "Maybe it will show that I certainly understand the culture of being outdoors," Huckabee said. "It's not something we had to go out and get a primer in. It's very much ordinary to me."

Who cares? You're a politician, I don't actually believe you're doing anything but trying to buy votes with this. If you were out hunting and were found out by the press it would be one thing, but this is just pandering that smells suspect.
His waving his religion around doesn't impress me. I'm not thrilled by a minister for president, but it doesn't bother me much either. I'd prefer a candidate who was less dependent on religion as a message.

Taxes? Not sure I'm caring a bit about his stand on removing income or payroll taxes. The Dems have both houses, and they love to redistribute wealth, and frankly, I find it highly improbable that he could move the topic an inch.

Energy Independence? Not likely. Thinking we can be completely independent in the next decade is unrealistic. Forward motion could well begin, but full independence is a long long way off. His ethanol dream is a joke. Ethanol may be a fuel solution, but it still take far too much energy from other sources to produce it and it fails to address other economic factors such as food prices.

I think he's realistic about Iraq and having to finish correctly there. The war on terrorism I think he's a bit askew on. Quoting the Powell doctrine bothers me in that it's not really applicable. Terrorist groups are ephemeral and you can't just throw large numbers of soldiers at the problem. (Not to mention I'm not a fan of the Powell doctrine, since it is a completely antiquated doctrine considering that most wars will be in the fourth generational or later forms.)

Mitt Romney. Find a stand and stick with it. I find it improbable that he'll get any southern support with the Governorship of the People's Republic of Massachusetts on his resume. His stand on Guns is very wrong. And his reputation in MA merely substantiates that he doesn't get it.

He does strike me as a clumsy politician. His "life NRA membership" and his "father marching with King" strike me as amateurish. He needs to stop trying so hard and stick with reality.

Personally, I'd like a president that has his own opinions and sticks with them. He has nothing major to be ashamed of from his business life and even his governorship wasn't horrible. He should work with that and not try to talk about things he isn't.

Rudi Guiliani.
Hmm. Don't like him. His answers on gun control and abortion were non-answers. I don't disagree that they are in some senses local or states rights topics. Gun rights though have a primary enumerated right in the constitution. Either he agrees with the individual right or not. I still don't like where his record leaves him there. As for abortion rights, take a stand, stop quibbling about where the right stands.

I'm also not wild about how he comes across on personal rights. He strikes me as being supportive of only those rights he likes.

He did perform quite impressively on 9/11 and most of those saying he was the cause of some of the problems don't have a convincing story.

Fred Thompson
Not happy with the performance to date. He's not convincing me that he really wants the job. You have to participate more than what we've seen.

Second Amendment Slam dunk. His debate answer was what I would have said.

Don't know much of his stand on Iraq. Last I heard he was on with continuing to success.

I've read some of his opinion pieces and have been quite impressed. The problem I have is that I'm not quite certain that they are his positions and not just write ups for him. I'm feeling uncertain about his actual participation. Interviews and press coverage hasn't shown him as being very strong on his feet on topics. He's an actor for god's sake, you'd think he'd be able to perform better.

John McCain
I do like most of his stances. His position on Iraq is very noble, preferring to win there rather than be president. That is closer to what I'd like in a candidate.

He does have a problem like Rudi on rights though. The McCain-Feingold suppression of political speech act was a very poor piece of legislation. Giving 527s voices and suppressing other special interest groups was just wrong. This is a case where full and detailed disclosure would have been the solution. Instead they chose suppression of speech.

His stand on illegal immigration is likely more realistic to the present political environment. Not very fond of it, but its better than what is happening. (That would be nothing.)

Ron Paul
His is an odd candidacy. I've been reading his stands on the issues and frankly, I like the majority of them.

I don't like his stand on Iraq. I find it to isolationist and completely misses the point that completing Iraq successfully is in the best interest of the US. Immediate withdrawal will again send the message that the US is weak and incapable of finishing anything. I also don't like that his stand doesn't view the US as being required to play in international affairs. You can dislike why we got into Iraq, but at this point that is completely irrelevant to the fact that a successful solution is the only way to move the global economy and the US primary interests forward.

I'm a bit puzzled how he qualifies stem cell research with his Pro-life stance, but I can see ways of getting there.

His stands on rights and liberties is refreshing. None of the other candidates will even step up to this level. I'm not certain they are all realistic, but that doesn't mean that they aren't where we should stand ultimately. I think a bit more realism on the Patriot Act would be nice, but he does point out some of the really lame section.

His media presence has been amateurish though. Being seen with white supremacists is pretty poor policy. Sadly he won't be able to scrape off their filth because some people assume that because he spoke to them then he must support them. Sadly too much of the media has effectively made him look like a kook.

It's going to be a tough decision. And a lot more research.

No democrats you ask? That's right. They are so far from reality of foreign policy that I just can't see voting for them. Then add their stance on rights and liberty, and I'm completely nauseous. That doesn't even get me to whether I could trust any of them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007 Memorable Quotes

Tops out with "Don't Tase Me, Bro."

A list that quotes morons and Democrats. (That's a bit redundant for this list.)

But what can one expect when the list was generated by a Yale prof.

Found at SayUncle.

Quotes start with Moron
"Don't Tase Me, Bro," a phrase that swept the nation after a U.S. college student used it seeking to stop campus police from throwing him out of a speech by Sen. John Kerry, was named Wednesday as the most memorable quote of 2007.
Then (ugh) Moron
Second on Shapiro's list was this tortuous answer by Lauren Upton, the South Carolina contestant in the Miss Teen America contest in August:

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us."

Then comes memorable bigotry (monons)
Third was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's October comment at Columbia University in New York, "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country."

Shock jock Don Imus comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team: "That's some nappy-headed hos there," was fourth.

Then Republican moron.
5. "I don't recall." -- Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' repeated response to questioning at a congressional hearing about the firing of U.S. attorneys.


6. "There's only three things he (Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani) mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11." -- Sen. Joseph Biden, speaking at a Democratic presidential debate.


7. "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody (Vice President Dick Cheney) who has a 9 percent approval rating." -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.


8. "(I have) a wide stance when going to the bathroom." -- Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig's explanation of why his foot touched that of an undercover policeman in a men's room.


9. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." -- Biden describing rival Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Moronic Democrat

10. "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." -- Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

Non-Sequitur: I was reading an article in National Review last night on Obama being the new Carter. It was a bit sad.

What if I Arrived with a Grill?

PETA stupidity with semi-nude women packaged up like meat.

I'd just love to pull up with a big gas grill and see what they did.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Silky Pony Prepared for Epic Battle

This guy sounds like he's approaching revamping the old communist propaganda films.

SCRIPT: Edwards: "This isn't about petty politics or good intentions. Corporate greed and influence in Washington are stealing our children's future. The moral test of our generation is whether we're going to allow this broken system to go on without a fight or take on corporate greed and stand up for the middle class and American jobs before it's too late. They aren't going to just give their power away. Saving the middle class is going to be an epic battle, and that's a fight I was born for."
He was born for this? You mean, being a very successful lawyer making vast amounts of money off of lawsuits makes you a middle class sympathizer? Why don't I believe that?

I wish his NH office would stop sending me pamphlets in the mail. I swear I throw out at least 2 a day.

Licensing Gasoline

I haven't seen any outrage and demand for more regulation on who can purchase gasoline based on this incident. No doubt it must be in the works.
Leon Davis had been out of jail for just 10 days when he went to the Nationwide Insurance office Thursday afternoon, demanding money from Yvonne Bustamante and Jane Luciano. Upset that the women refused to give him money, Davis doused the two women with gasoline and set them on fire, according to Lake Wales police.
If he had shot them it would have caused the shrill Brady Bunch to screech for more legislation. He was in jail for grand theft. I'm betting that disqualified him from making a legal firearms purchase. Of course, he also had a gun. Note that criminals don't seem to care about doing illegal things.
Davis then went outside and refused to allow the women to flee. That is where Davis allegedly shot Brandon Griessman, 33, in the nose, after the Good Samaritan tried to help the burning women.

Davis escaped from the scene, sparking a massive manhunt, until he turned himself in later Thursday at a Polk County Sheriff's Office substation.
Bustamante, 26 and Luciano, 23, were flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where they remain in critical condition this afternoon. Luciano underwent an emergency Caesarean-section delivery. The premature baby was named Mike Bustamante Jr., according to Lake Wales police. The infant was doing well, police said.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Morons with Badges

Saw this at Schneier. He calls it weird, which it is, but its also incredibly stupid.
Normally when you find a ticket on your windshield from a police officer it is not a good thing, but in Conyers a ticket could save you some money.

Officers with the Conyers Police Department will be on foot patrol in the parking lots of major shopping areas in the city over the next couple of weeks. They will place yellow tickets on vehicles with packages or boxes of merchandise that are visible on the seats or floorboards of cars; in other words, vehicles that are easy targets for thieves.

Conyers Police Chief David Cathcart said the yellow ticket program is part of an overall crime prevention program to help remind people to be careful with regard to their Christmas packages.

"If you leave packages in clear view in your car, then you might be providing an opportunity to a thief that can be avoided if you are just a little more careful," said Cathcart. "Even if you put your packages in the car and think you're only going to be in another store for a few minutes, you're still at risk because it only takes a moment for someone to take advantage of a situation."

The CPD has stepped up patrols during the holiday season in the city's shopping areas and increased the number of officers on duty during the evening shopping hours.

"Certainly our goal is to catch the thief; but if we can help create an environment which makes it more difficult for the thief to thrive, then that's a positive for our entire community," the chief said. "We want the citizens to know that we are out in the community and this program not only lets people know officers are patrolling an area, but reminds people to secure their packages."
So the police case the parking lot to identify the easy targets and put big yellow stickers on the cars to make it obvious to thieves where to go for easy pickings. Seems logical to me. This must be the protect part of their creed.

I especially like the statement that the stickers let people know that the police are patrolling. Yeah, and where the stickers are they aren't any longer. Brilliant!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CIA - What a Mess

You'd think that they'd start getting their act into gear. But then, being an agency that isn't really answerable to anyone gets you mixed into this level of incompetence. The tapes are one thing, but now the Brits are saying the CIA is naive in their latest NIE on Iran. Note, you won't hear much on this in the MSM.
British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran.

The timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely.

The security services in London want concrete evidence to allay concerns that the Islamic state has fed disinformation to the CIA.

The report used new evidence - including human sources, wireless intercepts and evidence from an Iranian defector - to conclude that Teheran suspended the bomb-making side of its nuclear programme in 2003. But British intelligence is concerned that US spy chiefs were so determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war - as their reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes did in Iraq - that they got it wrong this time.

A senior British official delivered a withering assessment of US intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East and revealed that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defence chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons.

The source said British analysts believed that Iranian nuclear staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation. "We are sceptical. We want to know what the basis of it is, where did it come from? Was it on the basis of the defector? Was it on the basis of the intercept material? They say things on the phone because they know we are up on the phones. They say black is white. They will say anything to throw us off.

"It's not as if the American intelligence agencies are regarded as brilliant performers in that region. They got badly burned over Iraq."

The Spectator.UK goes even further with this refering to the Telegraph article:
This version of events, however, seems to credit the NIE authors with having acted in good faith. But the question remains open whether they are incompetent or malign, having put out information they knew was false; and the further question is whether they stitched up President Bush, as many believe, or whether this is all part of a major and potentially cataclysmic strategic reversal by the US which has now given up the ghost of the Bush doctrine -- and the defence of the west -- for good.
I think that sentiment has started floating around the blogsphere, but unfortunately can't be proven. Worse, Bush seems to not be holding them accountable, though with a massive bureaucracy like that, I'm betting it will be nearly impossible.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whacky Seaon

The escalation in shootings is a bit frightening. I hate malls and churches, so I doubt I'm at much risk. At least the church in this case had some armed security on site negating that open target feel that most churches have.
"The suspect was confronted by a security guard," Myers said at a news conference late Sunday. "She shot the suspect, and the suspect subsequently died at the scene."
The nut cases are out so it's probably a good idea to watch who you tick off for a while.

Then there is the gun toting lady at Disney.
There was a little less enchantment in the Magic Kingdom Sunday morning when a 63-year-old Pennsylvania woman was taken into custody for allegedly bringing a loaded semi-automatic into the park.

Disney World security personnel reportedly discovered a silver handgun on Mary Ann Richardson as she entered the park with other family members, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The .32-caliber Beretta handgun had been loaded with seven live rounds in the magazine, but the chamber was empty, reported.

Richardson claimed she regularly traveled with the gun and forgot she had been carrying it around in her purse. Also found in Richardson’s purse was a pair of scissors and a locked blade knife, authorities said. She was charged with possession of a concealed weapon.
Nice. Though I'm uncertain about why they go into detail about the rounds being "live." People who carry guns don't generally carry spent shells in the clip. Couldn't be that they were sensationalizing a fairly non-sensational story. Nah.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Energy Bill Woes

This looks to have started out as a fairly good bill. The Cafe standards changes were probably needed, since it's quite obvious that the public at this time doesn't want to demand that type of thing right now. The additions of requiring 15% of energy be from renewable sources and if states can't meet that requirement that gets them punished with extra taxation of their energy, strikes me as ludicrous.
The bill's highlight is the fuel economy standard of 35 m.p.g. by 2020, the first increase in such standards by Congress since 1975, with stiff guidelines for how federal regulators can set new efficiency rules for cars and trucks.

Automakers and environmental groups backed the increase, with the UAW and Toyota Motor Corp. both lobbying for the bill's passage.

To help meet the standards, automakers could draw upon loans of up to $25 billion for engineering and building vehicles with advanced technologies, although the provision was pushed more by the UAW than the companies.

The package also calls for a boost in renewable fuel output to 36 billion gallons by 2022, and requires 15% of electricity production by 2020 to come from renewable resources.

To pay for a variety of new tax credits and some $2.1 billion in lower gas taxes from the fuel economy rules, the bill would add $21 billion in new tax revenues, $13 billion of which would come from repealing a tax break for the five largest U.S. oil and gas companies.

I'm still trying to find out what states can't meet the 15% renewable energy requirement. Considering hydro electric isn't on the list, I'm guessing that is going to cause some issues. By defining "renewable" so tightly I think they have made a major issue with many states.

The ethanol requirement is just stupid. I still don't see how anyone thinks this is an advance. I've read several articles that state that the energy usage to make ethanol is nearly as high as it is to just burn the oil. Anyone who understands how a still works would understand that. Not to mention the vast quantities of water that it takes to make that much ethanol. This article quotes 15:1 ratio.
A longtime analyst of ethanol production disagreed with Martin and questioned his figures, saying it takes an average of about 15 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol much higher than the roughly three gallons of water per gallon of ethanol Martin cited.
And that doesn't include the water for irrigation of corn which is the primary material used to make alcohol. Should we also point out that the vast quantities of ethanol must be trucked to refineries because pipelines for one don't exist, and two ethanol is corrosive and can't be piped in normal oil type lines?

I also enjoy the reasoning on how they are going to pay for parts of this. Not that the Oil companies won't be passing those taxes onto the consumer or anything. I don't believe oil companies should be receiving any tax breaks or subsidies at all, but trying to push the costs onto the oil companies and not expect an impact on the consumer is just pathetic.

This doesn't strike me as a "shot heard round the world." Just a shot in the dark.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

TSA - Morons Embarrassing Soldiers Now

Started at SayUncle, you can follow the links.

Appears the TSA has an issue with honor guards that have come back off the tarmack. Jerks.
Officials at Sea-Tac Airport are scrambling to find out why it happened.

Congressman Norm Dicks is working to see that it never happens again.

My commentary on how TSA screeners handled two Fort Lewis soldiers escorting the body of a combat colleague home for burial has outraged a lot of people.

Brief recap: Escorted to the tarmac where an honor guard waited, the soldiers stood at attention as the casket was placed on the plane.

A uniformed police officer then accompanied them to the screening area where their combat medals and ribbons helped set off the metal detectors.

They showed their military ID.

The police officer showed his ID.

Told to put down the American flag they were carrying, a TSA screener then had the soldiers strip to their tee shirts, pants and socks in full view of everyone in line.

More than anything else, it was that public spectacle and the soldier's humiliation that I find most disturbing, most disrespectful and most offensive.

It was the complete absence of any common sense from TSA, and the disregard shown to those men, that provoked such strong reactions.
Ok, Why are you screening people that you have already let in unscreened? If you're that clueless about security then you might as well let them leave. Anything dangerous they may have brought in isn't on them any longer, morons.

This doesn't even come down to the problems with the War on the Unexpected that Schneier writes about.
Watch how it happens. Someone sees something, so he says something. The person he says it to -- a policeman, a security guard, a flight attendant -- now faces a choice: ignore or escalate. Even though he may believe that it's a false alarm, it's not in his best interests to dismiss the threat. If he's wrong, it'll cost him his career. But if he escalates, he'll be praised for "doing his job" and the cost will be borne by others. So he escalates. And the person he escalates to also escalates, in a series of CYA decisions. And before we're done, innocent people have been arrested, airports have been evacuated, and hundreds of police hours have been wasted.
It is similar though. Instead of engaging their brains, they just fell into lock step with procedure. That is the real indicator of when a government shouldn't be involved. If you think, you're probably wrong.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Defunding the War in Iraq

Looks like the Dems have decided that inaction is the way to defund the war. They work on a bill that will require troop withdrawals irrespective of the level of success in Iraq and call the president stubborn when he declines to approve. Looks like they've found the way to push the blame on Bush while ensuring failure. Both things that will give them the biggest political clout.
With Congress back at work after a two-week recess, Mr. Bush and the Democrats spent the day lobbing verbal grenades at one another. Mr. Bush appeared in the Rose Garden to chide lawmakers for failing to finish their work, and his aides said he would do so again at a news conference on Tuesday — a rare departure for a White House that typically keeps its news conferences a secret until an hour before they occur.

“They have just two weeks to go before they leave town again,” Mr. Bush said. “That’s not really a lot of time to squeeze in nearly a year’s worth of unfinished business.”

At the Capitol, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, responded by calling Mr. Bush’s arguments “pretty weak,” and accusing the president of being intransigent. “If not for the stubborn refusal of the president and his Republican enablers to work with us,” Mr. Reid said, “we would accomplish a lot more.”
"A lot more" of failing to finish what we've started no doubt is his intent. Sadly this could end with a complete failure if the funding dries up and/or the requirement for a time table is forced. I'm uncertain why the White House isn't pushing harder on this issue. They've done it before with some success, I'd think that it wouldn't be much difference this time with more Dems seeing a more probable scenario for success with the present tactics.

NIE on Iran's Nuclear Program

Seems like most MSM pundits are saying this is proof that Iran isn't trying to make a Nuclear weapon. Funny, they keep enriching the Uranium openly, and god knows what they are doing in secret, but because the Intelligence community has some confidence that they fully stopped means there isn't a need to be concerned. Guess I wouldn't go that far.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The New Republic's Pseudo-Admission of Failure

This 15 page tirade from TNR blames essentially everyone else of doing wrong but TNR. They also insult the mil-bloggers and those bloggers who called their precious propaganda piece into question. This is amazing in that they manage to take nearly no responsibility for any of their reporting and complete failure to check any facts.
When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.
You can read it if you want, but to be honest, just skip it. I won't bother reading anything there ever again. With luck they'll dry up and blow away.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blog Profanity

SayUncle has a post and poll on profanity on his blog. The results are quite humorous and the comments are as well.

These top the ones that got me to laugh out loud.
# SayUncle Says:
November 28th, 2007 at 11:23 am

Profanity is the inevitable linguistic crutch of the inarticulate motherfucker.
# sam Says:
November 28th, 2007 at 2:03 pm

you’ve learned an important lesson, never put a “fuck you” option of an internet poll. It will win no matter what.

actually they should put it on presidential ballots. Can you imagine it?

[ ] (R) Rudy Giuliani
[ ] (D) Hillary Clinton
[ ] Fuck You
I think SayUncles statement will be highly reused, I know I'll use it.

And the presidential ballot would probably be a landslide, followed closely by several thousand people showing up with that as their legal name. (I wonder what social security number is associated with that name.)

CNN Duped by Clinton Supporter? Right...

The Clinton News Network was "duped" by a Clinton supporter. And of course didn't discover it until the end of the debate. Oh come on!
It turns out that Keith Kerr, retired Colonel., U.S. Army; retired Brigadier General, California National Reserve, who submitted a YouTube question about gays in the military, is actually a member of Hillary Clinton's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Americans For Hillary Steering Committee. He's also part of a film production crew trying overturn the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

UPDATE: In the final seconds of the post-debate coverage, Anderson Cooper acknowledges that CNN messed this up and states that CNN did not know that Kerr has a position within the Clinton campaign and that had they known, they would have disclosed the association.
Wonder if they do any research on these people? I'm going to end my cynicism there. Because if you honestly believe they weren't complicit then you must believe that they are as amazingly incompetent as they appear.

And in other hypocrisy, Bill Clinton was ALWAYS against the war in Iraq. And the NYT gives him support by quibbling over how "absolute" his statements were.
During a campaign swing for his wife, former President Bill Clinton said flatly yesterday that he opposed the war in Iraq “from the beginning” — a statement that is more absolute than his comments before the invasion in March 2003.

Before the invasion, Mr. Clinton did not precisely declare that he opposed the war. A week before military action began, however, he did say that he preferred to give weapons inspections more time and that an invasion was not necessary to topple Saddam Hussein.
This is either the continuation of Clintonesque word play (what is is?) or we have further pandering to the base to help Hillary along. No doubt St. Bill will be given a pass on this, again.

But no doubt this won't help Hillary, since she did vote for the resolution to use force. If he was so against it, then Hillary obviously didn't listen to him and that makes an interesting position on what the next Clinton White-House could look like.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bill Whittle's Latest at E3

He put it up on Tuesday. A short essay talking about what/where he wants to go with the blog and the problem with Ejectia.

I do want to write a new essay at E3; the situation in Iraq is improving, and I have long wanted to discuss The Most Important Person You Have Never Heard Of: a fellow named John Boyd. I mean to take a look not at strategy but adaptability.
If you're not a moderate military geek you'll not know that Boyd is the guy who outlined the OODA loop concept of strategy. (That's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action) I'd really like to see Bill's thoughts on all of this. I really hope he does a piece on this soon as it's all very interesting to me.

He does discuss the Ejectia stumbling.
So while I am sure by this point it comes as a surprise to no one but myself, I have reluctantly put aside any hope of building Ejectia until my financial status changes dramatically, at which point I will no longer care about what it costs. After all of the work we have put into this, I believe in my heart it will eventually come to pass, but I can not spend any more time or money on it right now.
A final word: I have heard that there are a few people who have all along predicted that Ejectia would come to nothing. Well, first of all, time will tell. But more importantly, let me just say simply this to all those who defended and promoted it (and me): that failure and success are the consequences of vision and the willingness to act on a belief. Sometime the extent of our failures is a metric of the extent of our dreams and our passion. To those small-minded, small-hearted people who can never see beyond failure and who derive nourishment from pessimism and setback, I would simply say that this is not the place for you. Not this country, and certainly not this blog.

There are endless small holes where cynicism and untrammeled pessimism are the coin of the realm, where mastery of snark and bile are held in high esteem. Go find one of those places.

Hmmm. I suppose I fit that last bit. Probably comes from reading the news a lot and just not seeing things getting better. All the more reason I read Bill's stuff, because it at least is hopeful and intelligent, which is something I don't believe exists in the MSM.

Well, go read for yourself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Military Reading List

Found this at Small Wars Journal.

This list is from Robert Cassidy.
Robert Cassidy is a U.S. Army officer. He is a member of the Royal United Services Institute and a fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. He has a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Diplome d' Étude Supérieure de Défense from the French Joint Defense College. He is the author of Peacekeeping in the Abyss: British and American Peacekeeping Doctrine and Practice after the Cold War and Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War.
I'm not going to put the list up here, but it does give some new titles I haven't read.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happiness Is...

McQ got a roar out of me on this one.
Want to start each day on a positive note? Follow these 7 simple steps:

1. Create a new file folder on your computer.
2. Name it 'Hillary Rodham Clinton.'
3. Drag it to the recycle bin.
4. Empty the recycle bin.
5. Your PC will ask you, "Are you sure you want to delete 'Hillary Rodham Clinton'?"
6. Firmly Click 'Yes.'
7. Feel better instantly.

Next week we'll do Harry Reid.
Now that is seriously funny.

Murtha Bellowing Buffoon on Iraq

This guy is unbelievable. Clueless.
"Look at all the people that have been displaced, all the [lost] oil production, unemployment, all those type of things," said Rep. John P. Murtha, chairman of Appropriations defense subcommittee. "We can't win militarily."

The Pennsylvania Democrat conceded violence was down dramatically and some normalcy restored on Iraq's streets, but he said U.S. victory remains unattainable as long as Baghdad fails to pass national reconciliation laws.

"To change the political law, it doesn't seem to me you need the military stability," Mr. Murtha told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The dim view of U.S. military progress in Iraq and a resolve to force a pullout have been echoed by the two top Democrats on Capitol Hill — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Murtha seems to think that the only thing the military does over there is fight. He completely ignores the reconstruction units, the policing, and the political activities that they are involved in. Of course he can't let that level of reality get in the way of his moronic tirades.

Wording and Votes

My big worry on the DC v Heller comes down to Kennedy. Orin Kerr gives his opinion.
Justice Kennedy and the Second Amendment: What is Justice Kennedy likely to do in the Second Amendment case the Court has granted?

As a general rule, Justice Kennedy's view of the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights is that they apply broadly but often yield to competing interests. If the question is whether a constitutional protection applies in an abstract sense to a new set of facts, Justice Kennedy is often inclined to answer that question in the affirmative. On the other hand, Kennedy is also willing to find that the right gives way to competing governmenet interests such as law enforcement needs, security, finality, etc. (These are obviously enormous oversimplifications, but I think it's a pretty good first cut.)

What does that mean for the Second Amendment case? Well, I looked into my SCOTUS 330CLe Model Crystal Ball (patent pending, with optional GPS system), and it's predicting that Justice Kennedy will conclude that the Second Amendment does in fact create an individual right. It also tells me that Kennedy will endorse a relatively deferential standard of review that will end up allowing a great deal of gun regulation.
That makes me a bit less nervous. I really hope he's right.

The Volokh Conspiracy has had a lot of entries on topic today. That's a link to Eugene Volokh's "Necessary to the Security of a Free State"

SCOTUS to Hear DC v. Heller

I'm nervous about all of this. I especially find the focus of the question going to the Supremes to be disturbing.
Here is the way the Court phrased the granted issue:

“Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

The first listed section bars registration of pistols if not registered before Sept. 24, 1976; the second bars carrying an unlicensed pistol, and the third requires that any gun kept at home must be unloaded and disassembled or bound by a lock, such as one that prevents the trigger from operating.

The Court did not mention any other issues that it might address as questions of its jurisdiction to reach the ultimate question: did the one individual who was found to have a right to sue have a right to challenge all three of the sections of the local law cited in the Court’s order, and, is the District of Columbia, as a federal enclave, even covered by the Second Amendment. While neither of those issues is posed in the grant order, the Court may have to be satisfied that the answer to both is affirmative before it would move on to the substantive question about the scope of any right protected by the Amendment.

It's enough that this bit at SCOTUSblog appears to focus on the "militia" or more accurately the non-militia status looks to me to be concentrating on a minor point of the Amendment and ignoring the "right of the people" part that appears to be so much more important.

Lyle Denniston has a SCOTUSwiki page on the case that is worth reviewing.

David Hardy at Of Arms and the Law shows the variations on how the questions were placed.
Court rephrased the question presented as:

"Whether the following provisions, D.C.
Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes? "

DC had phrased it as:

"Whether the Second Amendment forbids the District of Columbia from banning private possession of handguns while allowing possession of rifles and shotguns."

Parker/Heller had phrased it as:

" Whether the Second Amendment guarantees law-abiding, adult individuals a right to keep ordinary, functional firearms, including handguns, in their homes."

That again makes me nervous. I have to say I prefer the last since it specifically discusses the right rather than forbidding ownership, or the really twisted way the SCOTUS chose. I wish I had some idea what that rephrasing really means. This legalese crap just gets under my skin.

Well, at least I live in a state that clearly enumerates the citizens right to keep and bear arms. This case may cause many issues, but I don't think it will cause much of a change here. (Well as long as the scum crossing our southern border from the People Republic of Massachusetts doesn't cause issues with our standing constitution.)

Of course the AssPress has given the Brady Bunch and their ilk voice on the news without having any balanced reporting from the NRA or any Second Amendment supporting group.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the Supreme Court should "reverse a clearly erroneous decision and make it clear that the Constitution does not prevent communities from having the gun laws they believe are needed to protect public safety."

The last Supreme Court ruling on the topic came in 1939 in U.S. v. Miller, which involved a sawed-off shotgun. That decision supported the collective rights view, but did not squarely answer the question in the view of many constitutional scholars. Chief Justice John Roberts said at his confirmation hearing that the correct reading of the Second Amendment was "still very much an open issue."

And of course, they got the Miller case interpretation completely wrong. Nice balanced journalism from the propaganda specialists at the AssPress. In fact they court never made any finding regarding whether the 2nd stands for individual or collective rights. But continuing that fallacy will continue propagating the rights they like and removing the ones they don't. Maybe they should think this one over again.

I Am Disappointed

Caught this in a trailer, and frankly, it looks like another crappy telling of an outstanding story. Again with Will Smith.
A man-made virus wipes out the population of New York City in 2009, leaving virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) the last human survivor in the city and possibly the world. Neville lives alone for three years, attempting to contact and find other possible survivors. He is watched by mutant victims of the plague. Neville was the indirect cause of the fall of man: his government-funded research helped spread the virus, and he now works to redeem himself. Naturally immune, Neville realizes that two percent of the human race must also be immune. However, many of them were killed by the infected, who became cannibalistic. Neville finds himself outnumbered by the infected and running out of time.
The mutilated I Robot, and now this. The reason Neville became "legend" is because he was the monster relentlessly killing off the mutants. From what I read here and have seen in the trailer, I'm guessing that we won't have Smith's character doing that.

Get this:
Smith said he took on I Am Legend because he felt it could be like "Gladiator [or] Forrest Gump — these are movies with wonderful, audience-pleasing elements but also uncompromised artistic value. [This] always felt like it had those possibilities to me." He compared Neville to Job, who lost his children, livelihood and health. Like the Book of Job, I Am Legend studies whether "can he find a reason to continue? Can he find the hope or desire to excel and advance in life? Or does the death of everything around him create imminent death for himself?"
I'll wait for it to come out on TeeVee.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Globalization of Sushi

This is a cool article in Reason.

The history that they discuss regarding sushi is interesting. I really liked this part:
Trevor Corson sees serendipity in the global economy in The Zen of Fish (HarperCollins): “The Japanese have a nickname for bluefin—shibi. It means ‘four days.’ In the age before refrigeration, when someone caught a bluefin, he buried it in the ground for four days before eating it.” Now that time is spent traveling, but the result is the same: a great lunch.
Now that is different.

Reason also has an article on the Nanny state Prohibitionists that frankly is as irritating as the food nazis in NY.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boston Gun Search Program

This linked at The War on Guns.

I find this worrisome in a lot of ways.
Boston police are launching a program that will call upon parents in high-crime neighborhoods to allow detectives into their homes, without a warrant, to search for guns in their children's bedrooms.

The program, which is already raising questions about civil liberties, is based on the premise that parents are so fearful of gun violence and the possibility that their own teenagers will be caught up in it that they will turn to police for help, even in their own households.

In the next two weeks, Boston police officers who are assigned to schools will begin going to homes where they believe teenagers might have guns. The officers will travel in groups of three, dress in plainclothes to avoid attracting negative attention, and ask the teenager's parent or legal guardian for permission to search. If the parents say no, police said, the officers will leave.

Really scary. Makes you wonder how many people will pay the price for feeling intimidated or misunderstanding that they can in fact tell the police to take a hike. I like this bit:
But Davis said the point of the program, dubbed Safe Homes, is to make streets safer, not to incarcerate people.

"This isn't evidence that we're going to present in a criminal case," said Davis, who met with community leaders yesterday to get feedback on the program. "This is a seizing of a very dangerous object. . . .

"I understand people's concerns about this, but the mothers of the young men who have been arrested with firearms that I've talked to are in a quandary," he said. "They don't know what to do when faced with the problem of dealing with a teenage boy in possession of a firearm. We're giving them an option in that case."

If officers find a gun, police said, they will not charge the teenager with unlawful gun possession, unless the firearm is linked to a shooting or homicide.
Right. I'm sure if they get access they won't bother looking anywhere else or for anything else that may not be quite legal. What will that mother in a quandary do if the gun they find happens to have been used in a crime? Or that the kid is hiding it for some one else? That never happens does it.
A criminal whose gun is seized can quickly obtain another, said Jorge Martinez, executive director of Project Right, who Davis briefed on the program earlier this week.

"There is still an individual who is an impact player who is not going to change because you've taken the gun from the household," he said.

Interesting perspective. Wonder what would happen if the individual who had the gun was subsequently arrested or found to have another gun.

The leads to who to call on are interesting as well.
Police will rely primarily on tips from neighbors. They will also follow tips from the department's anonymous hot line and investigators' own intelligence to decide what doors to knock on. A team of about 12 officers will visit homes in four Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods: Grove Hall, Bowdoin Street and Geneva Avenue, Franklin Hill and Franklin Field, and Egleston Square.

If drugs are found, it will be up to the officers' discretion whether to make an arrest, but police said modest amounts of drugs like marijuana will simply be confiscated and will not lead to charges.

Anonymous hotlines are just asking for trouble. Unknown sources of information are problematic in that they allow for lots of abuse by people trying to settle scores.
One of the first to back him was the Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown, cofounder of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, who attended yesterday's meeting.

"What I like about this program is it really is a tool to empower the parent," he said. "It's a way in which they can get a hold of the household and say, 'I don't want that in my house.' "

It "empowers" parents, but it doesn't require them to take any responsibility. Wonderful world that Reverend lives in. Though there is a bit on the program that occurred in St. Louis that does at least show that some parents in this situation tried to get more assistance.
St. Louis police reassured skeptics by letting them observe searches, said Robert Heimberger, a retired St. Louis police sergeant who was part of the program.

"We had parents that invited us back, and a couple of them nearly insisted that we take keys to their house and come back anytime we wanted," he said.

But the number of people who gave consent plunged in the next four years, as the police chief who spearheaded the effort left and department support fell, according to a report published by the National Institute of Justice.

Support might also have flagged because over time police began to rely more on their own intelligence than on neighborhood tips, the report said.

Heimberger said the program also suffered after clergy leaders who were supposed to offer help to parents never appeared.

"I became frustrated when I'd get the second, or third, or fourth phone call from someone who said, 'No one has come to talk to me,' " he said. Residents "lost faith in the program and that hurt us."

Boston police plan to hold neighborhood meetings to inform the public about the program. Police are also promising follow-up visits from clergy or social workers, and they plan to allow the same scrutiny that St. Louis did.

I wonder how this will be handled in Boston. It's not exactly a city known for its clergical support, and I'm thinking that the social workers are probably already overwhelmed with what they are doing now without having extra burden tossed on top.

Well, good luck to them. Personally, I don't think I'll ever let a cop into my dwelling without a warrant.

Anti-Sniper Technology: Failure of Forethought

Interesting article on anti-sniper technology. Some of it has merit, but some is really missing any thought of how simple it would be to defeat the technology. I'm a bit surprised that security lessons are simply ignored with some of these proposals.

First comes the after-shot technology.
While countering snipers has not received the funding and attention of the IED threat, several programs are in various stages of development that researchers hope will make U.S. sniper teams more deadly, and allow other troops to both locate enemy gunmen, and possibly find them before they squeeze the trigger.

The Boomerang shooter detection system, built by BBN Technologies of Cambridge, Mass., reached Iraq in early 2004 and has been installed on tactical and armored vehicles. After a shot is fired, a computer generated voice tells soldiers the direction and distance of the bullet’s point of origin.

A third generation Boomerang system is in the late stages of development, and will be lighter, easier to install, compatible with IED jammers and have fewer components, said company spokeswoman Joyce Kuzmin. There will also be improvements to performance, but she could not provide further details.

BBN is among a handful of companies offering sensors that instantly locate the origin of a gunshot. Two Israeli firms, Elbit Systems and Rafael Armament Development Authority are marketing similar systems. Radiance Technologies of Huntsville, Ala., is selling the WeaponWatch system that detects where the bullet came from and the type of weapon fired, including larger weapons such as mortars and shoulder-fired missiles.

Law enforcement agencies are currently using such technologies. By placing sensors in high crime neighborhoods, for example, they can locate the point of origin for a gunshot and dispatch a cruiser there within seconds.

Cambridge Mass? That sounds odd. Isn't that the pathetic little communist enclave that can't even let Boy Scouts support the present troops? Imagine if they found they have a company that is trying to save military lives is in their community. Probably be a mob scene.

Of course, the technology isn't fool proof, but if you have sufficient saturation in an area finding the sniper wouldn't be impossible, just difficult. You'd also end up culling the stupid and ineffective snipers. I don't see that this would be very effective in anything but a fairly secured urban environment. Random gunshots would play havoc with the system.

Then there is the "scope detection" technology which is a bit pathetic from my point of view:
DARPA’s C-Sniper program will attempt to locate shooters’ guns in a “cluttered” urban environment from either stationary or moving vehicles, according to an agency announcement seeking proposals. The objective is to eventually integrate the system into another DARPA program, called Crosshairs, which is attempting to “detect enemy bullets, rocket propelled grenades and mortars fired at our vehicles and to prevent them from striking…” the announcement said.

Crosshairs’ goal is to locate the point of origin of incoming projectiles within .01 of a second and to employ non-lethal countermeasures such as rubber bullets or lasers, the DARPA website said.

If researchers can successfully integrate these two systems, it will create a protective bubble around soldiers who are sitting in or standing near their vehicles, Varshneya said.

Detecting scopes amid the clutter found in urban environments will be a key challenge, he added. Such esoteric technologies as optical augmentation, polarization retention and time and spatial discrimination may provide the answers, Varshneya suggested. He did not offer publicly what sensor could pick up a regular gun sight in an urban environment that is presumably populated with thousands of metal objects.

Not that insurgents or their sympathizers couldn't simply add cheap or broke scopes or weapon like material to the environment and then alter them periodically to confuse the technology. I don't see this as being viable. It would have a very painful period of testing and would likely be a very expensive failure. It would be interesting to understand better how the propose to make this spoof proof, but I doubt that the details of such technology will be released. Well, unless the NYT gets a hold of it, then everyone will know.

At least they have a quote from someone a bit smarter regarding where the money would better be invested.
Tucker, who embedded with a Marine sniper unit to research his book, said the best way to take out sniper cells is not through high-concept, expensive technologies, but rather by using old-fashioned human intelligence. He also observed and advised Iraqi special forces in Fallujah during the winter of 2004 to 2005. The Iraqis used their contacts and knowledge of the local landscape to locate and eliminate nine sniper cells in a two-month period. They accomplished this without U.S. forces sharing information with them.

“They worked it strictly from a human intelligence angle from the get go, and that’s how they took down the cells,” Tucker said.

The article also goes into new technology for scopes. Sounds amazing in some cases.
Varshneya said DARPA is also looking for further improvements for scopes. The strategic technology office would like to create a universal scope that will incorporate visible, infrared and night vision technologies. Such a system may employ flexible membranes or adaptable polymers to change lenses, he suggested. Sharpshooters must currently carry all three scopes and their batteries with them in the field. A universal scope would reduce their load by eight pounds, he said.

The “crosswind sensor system for snipers” program seeks a weapon mounted laser correction system that will allow users to correct for wind direction and speeds downrange. A small wind gust between a shooter and a target can send a bullet off course by more than one meter, Varshneya, said.

“If the program is successful, the shot will not miss due to crosswinds,” he added.

Cross wind tech sounds amazing. I'd really love to know how they manage to figure that out.

The same magazine also has an article on the use of "robots" for fighting. I have to say I really dislike that tactic. I suppose I can understand the desire to replace the human for the most hazardous of situations, but a robot will never be able to replace the human in future war, especially considering that warfare is more likely to become more heavily a fourth and fifth generation style combat where you have to work with the population not just against the insurgent. Robots don't have the ability to interact with populations. Hard for them to smile and talk with a citizen in a war zone.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ethics of Robot Cockroaches

Yeah, the Boston Globe.

Research reported yesterday in the journal Science described how a team of European scientists placed tiny robots in a colony of laboratory cockroaches. Using behavioral modification methods, the whirring, partly-disguised faux insects were able to induce the real creepy-crawlies to follow their lead in seeking shelter in bright spaces. Bent behavior, indeed, for critters famous for lurking in dark, moist cracks.

No one cares too much if cockroaches can be hoodwinked into acting against their own interests. Still, it's surprising that robots can insinuate themselves into colonies of living things, however wee-witted, and more or less take charge.

Although not designed to address major philosophical issues, the research nonetheless points to how robot science appears headed in weird and unpredictable directions. Some scientists say it is inevitable that advances will ultimately affect the fundamental relationship between humanity and its machines.

And many analysts say it is high time that societies start seriously considering the ethical dimensions of the technological advances, although others contend the dangers are exaggerated.

Why do they always have to take such news to a panic over ethical issues. Sure its a little weird, but hey, that is cool.

Times A Wasting

I believe this is Dave Kilcullen over at SWJ. He's looking at the fact that the window of opportunity for the Iraq Central government to move on reconciliation and legislation of oil-funding and debathification reform may be small and that they really need to get moving.
The SWJ has sat in on PRT roundtables and discussions and corresponded with other non-military personnel working issues that are not directly related to security. If we interpreted what we heard correctly, another trend appears to be taking root – one of political reconciliation at the local level. This is significant (though it has not received the attention it deserves in the MSM) and in the cyclic relationship between political and military initiatives it contributes to increased security which in turn contributes to even further political gains. Still, this is at the local (provincial / city / tribal) level and given several years to play-out could very well force the hand of national political reconciliation, or not.

Marc Lynch at Abu Aardvark (and quoted in Ricks’s article) lays out an alternate view on recent success, both political and security related, associated with the “bottom-up” approach:

The officers interviewed in the story are agonizing over whether provincial elections would help bridge the political gap. I understand the hope that this could break the impasse, but I'm skeptical for three reasons.
First, it's important to recognize the intense Sunni-Sunni political struggles unfolding, as I wrote about in some detail the other day, and think about how elections could be a trigger for bringing those undercurrents to the surface.
Second, as I mentioned the other day most Sunnis seem more preoccupied with the national level than the local - the new elections that they want are to the national Parliament. They are also intensely suspicious of anything which smells like partition, and promoting provincial over national elections could well trigger an intensely hostile reaction.
Finally, and most importantly, provincial elections sidestep the really important question: the relationship between these local militias and the central state. Without institutionalized control over the means of violence and a meaningful political bargain at the center, I just do not see any way to prevent a spiral into sectarian warfare. And thus, as Ricks quotes my argument, the current strategy is accelerating Iraq's descent into a warlord state even if violence is temporarily down.

Regardless of what one thinks of the bottom-up approach to COIN (I maintain that as 2007 dawned it was the “only approach” we had as an option), time, resources and patience are not unlimited and if the Iraqi national government does not immediately take advantage of the recent relative calm it may not have another chance.

The window, no doubt, is very unpredictable. The fact that there is relative calm now is all the more reason for the present Administration to start pushing them to get things cleaned up.

It would also help if our US representatives would stop taking pot-shots at the whole effort and maybe stand behind the progress with some hope of success. Unfortunately, they won't benefit to their liking if Iraq succeeds and that leads them to take merely partisan actions rather than actions that would benefit the nation as a whole.

Ignoring Reality

This is really pathetic. Even if he's depending on the MSM for updates on what is happening in Iraq, Harry Reid really has to get a grip on reality.
Democrats Thursday branded President George W. Bush a "bully" on Iraq, but faced Republican charges of ignoring "crystal clear" progress in the country, ahead of a new Senate showdown on the war.

Lawmakers drew battlelines for likely the last war wrangle of a tumultuous year of turf wars between Congress and the White House, over a new 50 billion dollar combat funding bill including Democratic demands for troop withdrawals.

Senate Democratic Majority Harry Reid took a harsh line against Bush, warning: "He damn sure is not entitled now to having this money given with a blank check."

"Americans need someone fighting for them, taking on this bully we have in the White House," Reid told reporters.

Democrats threatened Republicans with a rare weekend senate vote after the start of the scheduled break for the Thanksgiving holiday on the bill, which passed the House of Representatives late on Wednesday.

"The (Iraqi) government is stalemated today, as it was six months ago, as it was two years ago," Reid said, warning US soldiers were caught in the middle of a civil war.

But Republicans accused Democrats of wilfully ignoring progress in Iraq under US commander General David Petraeus, which they said was proven by a decrease in US troop deaths and sectarian attacks.

"We really should not cut off funding for our troops in the field, particularly at a moment when the tactical success of the Petraeus plan is crystal clear," said Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell.

"Attacks and casualties are down and political cooperation is occurring at the local level."

Funny how the President is a bully for doing his job. And I'm still trying to figure out how he's come to the conclusion that the military is in the middle of a civil war. Facts from Iraq show that sectarian violence is a low and in fact the cooperation level between the Sunni and the Military has risen dramatically. If he believes the only true indicator of motion toward success is based solely on the actions of the Iraq central government, he's delusional. If the present motion toward security continues the government will be able to rectify its issues because the people and their representatives are secure enough to want more than just security.
The emergency budget provides only four months of funding for the war, and only a 50 billion dollar chunk of the 196 billion dollars requested by Bush.

It calls for troop withdrawals to begin within 30 days and sets a goal of December 15, 2008, for the pullback of most combat troops to be completed, and outlaws the use of torture by US government agencies.

"The days are over when the money is sent no questions asked, when the money is sent without a price," Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said.

Republicans have put forward what they call a "clean" funding bill, stripped of troop withdrawal deadlines, which is also expected to fall short of the 60-vote threshold needed to move major legislation in the 100 seat Senate.

Another laughable theory that the public won't be angered at the obvious lack of support for the troops. Chuckles no doubt is safe in his NY collective on the topic, but the more conservative Dems may need to rethink that strategy. The timetables have been a failing point all along so I have no idea why they suddenly believe that adding them will be a political winner when significant progress is seen in Iraq.

Krauthammer also has an interesting bit of perspective on the repeatedly bludgeoned point that the US allies are unhappy with the US. Again, those protesting the most seem to miss that more and more allies are coming back to close ties.
When the Democratic presidential candidates pause from beating Hillary with a stick, they join in unison to pronounce the Democratic pieties, chief among which is that George Bush has left our alliances in ruins. As Clinton puts it, we have "alienated our friends," must "rebuild our alliances" and "restore our standing in the world." That's mild. The others describe Bush as having a scorched-earth foreign policy that has left us reviled and isolated in the world.

Like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who insist that nothing of significance has changed in Iraq, the Democrats are living in what Bob Woodward would call a state of denial. Do they not notice anything?

France has a new president who is breaking not just with the anti-Americanism of the Chirac era but with 50 years of Fifth Republic orthodoxy that defined French greatness as operating in counterpoise to America. Nicolas Sarkozy's trip last week to the United States was marked by a highly successful White House visit and a rousing speech to Congress in which he not only called America "the greatest nation in the world" (how many leaders of any country say that about another?) but pledged solidarity with the U.S. on Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Middle East and nuclear nonproliferation. This just a few months after he sent his foreign minister to Iraq to signal an openness to cooperation and an end to Chirac's reflexive obstructionism.

That's France. In Germany, Gerhard Schroeder is long gone, voted out of office and into a cozy retirement as Putin's concubine at Gazprom. His successor is the decidedly pro-American Angela Merkel, who concluded an unusually warm visit with Bush this week.

All this, beyond the ken of Democrats, is duly noted by new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who in an interview with Sky News on Sunday noted "the great change that is taking place," namely "that France and Germany and the European Union are also moving more closely with America."

For the "reality based party" this is a remarkable indication that their reality is greatly different than what everyone else is seeing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Palestinian Democracy

Looks like those EU voices demanding that Hamas be recognized as a political party and not a terrorist organization must have been right.
Fatah leaders said a wave of arrests in Gaza targeted activists, including ranking party figures who had organized the rally marking the third anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death. The gathering erupted in gunfire, leaving seven people dead and dozens injured.

The radical Hamas movement has controlled Gaza since its forces in June overwhelmed fighters from the Fatah faction, which was founded by Arafat and one of whose leaders is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hazem abu Shanab, a Fatah spokesman in Gaza, said Hamas security officers detained more than 400 party members and seized computers and documents during raids.

Fatah officials accused Hamas of opening fire on the crowd, which numbered in the tens of thousands -- Fatah's biggest gathering since losing control of Gaza.

Hamas officials said the rival faction's gunmen fired first from neighboring buildings.

Hamas officials accused the rally's organizers of stoking public disorder and said they were arresting those responsible. In a brief statement, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza denied that the arrests were politically motivated.
When is the next Palestinian election anyway?

Any bets on change?