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?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dark Web

The quivering images and militant writings are frightening: an exploding Humvee blankets passing cars with dust; a lab technician makes explosives, step by step; hatred oozes from "A guide to kill Americans in Saudi Arabia."

Tens of thousands of Web pages are now devoted to terrorist propaganda designed to attract followers. On the surface, the messages and videos reveal little about their creators. But programmers and writers leave digital clues: the greetings and other words they choose, their punctuation and syntax, and the way they code multimedia attachments and Web links.

Researchers at the University of Arizona are developing a tool that uses these clues to automate the analysis of online jihadism. The Dark Web project aims to scour Web sites, forums and chat rooms to find the Internet's most prolific and influential jihadists and learn how they reel in adherents.

Lab director Hsinchun Chen hopes Dark Web will crimp what he calls "al-Qaida University on the Web," the mass of Web sites where potential terrorists learn their trade, from making explosives to planning attacks. Experts said they are not aware of any comparable effort, though some said the project may have only limited applications.

The project in the university's Artificial Intelligence Lab will not identify people outside cyberspace "because that involves civil liberties," Chen said, preferring to let law enforcement and intelligence analysts take over from there. Instead, it will help identify messages with the same author and reveal links that aren't obvious.

"Our tool will help them ID the high-risk, radical opinion leaders in cyberspace," Chen said.

Not especially surprising that they've developed something like this. Just interesting that the press took so long to make it obvious that someone was doing it.

My question comes down to who defines "high-risk, radical opinion leaders?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007


This is a bit odd. The Volokh Conspiracy only got Junior High level.

cash advance

I wonder what this really means?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Kucinich's Little World

You really have to love this part of politics.

It is hard to know which effort has longer odds, the bid by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, to become president of the United States, or his bid to unseat Vice President Dick Cheney by impeaching him.

Both efforts got a brief burst of publicity on Tuesday when Mr. Kucinich brought his bill to impeach Mr. Cheney to the House floor and, with the surprise help of Republicans aiming to embarrass Democratic Congressional leaders, nearly succeeded in securing an hour of debate.

After a motion to table Mr. Kucinich’s bill failed, the majority leader, Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, stepped in with a motion to refer the bill back to the House Judiciary Committee. That motion succeeded, by a near-party-line vote of 218 to 194, and spared the Democrats a potentially embarrassing distraction.

House Republicans initially opposed the effort to debate Mr. Kucinich’s impeachment measure, and briefly there were 290 votes in favor of tabling it.

But then the Republicans sensed an opportunity to irritate the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, who has said the Democrats have no interest in impeaching Mr. Cheney or President Bush over the Iraq war. The Republicans began changing their votes, and by the end, the tally was 251 to 162 not to table it, with 165 Republicans voting no.
I'm not sure what is sillier, Kucinich or the Repugs who are trying to irritate Pelosi. Being the minority the Repugs are doing what is expected, and I'm sure that really is toasting Nancy's back side.

I caught Kucinich on Tucker Carlson's show last night and it was pretty pathetic. He really should go for it. I mean I don't know if the congressional approval rating can get much lower, but this is certainly a means to see if it can. I'd say this is a step more pathetic than the Clinton impeachment. But only a very small step.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Media Bias, Again

Caught this at QandO. Like usual, its a reason to read blogs, because most certainly, you won't see this widely displayed in the MSM.
Just like so many reports before it, a joint survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy — hardly a bastion of conservative orthodoxy — found that in covering the current presidential race, the media are sympathetic to Democrats and hostile to Republicans.

Democrats are not only favored in the tone of the coverage. They get more coverage period. This is particularly evident on morning news shows, which "produced almost twice as many stories (51% to 27%) focused on Democratic candidates than on Republicans."

From that bastion of conservative bias Harvard.

Can't be true.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


From Commentary. The article is long, but sectioned to various opinions on the topic of whether the present war on terror, or whatever you choose to call it is a world war. Here are the questions the magazine puts to the pundits.

1. Do you accept the term “World War IV,” or the idea behind it, as an apt characterization of the West’s battle with Islamic extremism, and do you, like Norman Podhoretz, see Iraq as a crucial early theater in that conflict?

2. Six years after 9/11, how would you assess our progress? What would you like to see happen next?

3. On the specific issue of the spread of democracy—a linchpin of the Bush Doctrine and a point of acute controversy between foreign-policy realists and neoconservatives—do you agree or disagree with Podhoretz that “democratization represents the best and perhaps even the only way to defeat Islamofascism and the terrorism it uses as its main weapon against us”?

4. Turning to the political climate at home, do you think the Bush Doctrine has a chance of surviving the elections of 2008, and if so in what form?

Here's the list of pundits:

Fouad Ajami
John R. Bolton
Max Boot
Reuel Marc Gerecht
Victor Davis Hanson
Daniel Henninger
Martin Kramer
William Kristol
Andrew C. McCarthy
David Pryce-Jones
Claudia Rosett
Amir Taheri
Ruth Wedgwood
James Q. Wilson
R. James Woolsey

Check it out. I've read through the ones I'm not familiar with. Pretty informative commentary.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Spitzer Licensing Illegals Ensures Illegal Gun Purchases

I don't like his idea, mainly because I don't agree with the idea that this will add security. I still haven't quite been able to twist logic to the point where awarding criminal activity increases security. This article has an interesting take that makes this even more questionable.
ALBANY - Once they got driver's licenses under Gov. Spitzer's plan, illegal immigrants could arm themselves to the teeth simply by lying about their status, gun experts said Thursday.

"They could definitely get shotguns and rifles," said Thomas King, executive director of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.

King said illegal immigrants could simply go to gun shops, use the licenses as ID, pick out the long guns of their choice and attest on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives forms that they are citizens or legal residents.

As long as a computer check showed the customer had no criminal record or outstanding arrest warrants, the gun dealer would likely complete the sale - because there are no other records that would flag illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg took issue with Spitzer's plan again, saying on CNN that only those who have obtained "secure" licenses should be allowed to buy guns in New York State.

Now on the talking heads shows last night someone stated that these licenses couldn't be used for ID to get on flights. I'm wondering how they are different from the regular licenses. Could that difference be sufficient that all gun dealers will know and understand that they aren't allowed for use for gun purchases?
Spitzer aides called such a scenario highly unlikely. If illegal immigrants wanted a gun, they'd more likely buy them on the streets, they reasoned.
That is true, they could get them illegally, but why would they bother if they could easily walk into a store and buy one? I'm betting that would be faster than trying to find one on the black market, and much less risky.

This article does describe the tiered licensing that NY has gotten an agreement with DHS on.
Under the compromise, New York will produce an "enhanced driver's license" that will be as secure as a passport. It is intended for people who soon will need to meet such ID requirements, even for a short drive to Canada.

A second version of the license will meet new federal standards of the Real ID Act. That law is designed to make it much harder for illegal immigrants or would-be terrorists to obtain licenses.

A third type of license will be available to undocumented immigrants.

Wonder how gun dealers or anyone else who has to deal with these IDs will be able to figure out the difference between the tiers. They could make it real simple like simple colorizing, but nothing says what the differentiator is.