Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Slouching Towards Statism

I've been thinking a lot lately about our globe's two basic forms of governance -- Statist nations that see the people as a means to government's ends and Individualist nations in which government represents and protects the will of the people.

I can find no better illustration of the Statist form than this clip of a Chinese small truck undergoing a 40 mpg front-end crash test. It's just 33 seconds long, so do click it (and excuse the oddly constructed note at the end).

This is undeniable evidence of what happens when production is put into the hands of a Statist government. China's government certainly had access to car safety technology -- it's stolen all sorts of other technology, after all -- but it willfully decided to keep the cost down in order to advance the state's goal of moving goods cheaply in order to expand the economy. (Notice how the goods being carried probably suffered little ill effect -- something that can't be said of the human occupants?)

In America a few years ago, Ford Explorers began to roll over because Ford was recommending too low a tire pressure in order to offset the top-heavy nature of the Explorer's design. Compared to the Chinese truck, this was a less willful act -- executives didn't foresee deaths, but almost 300 died and 700 were injured. (That stat has to be compared to the 12,000 SUV rollover deaths and injuries in other SUVs before any blame can be ascribed specifically to Ford's Explorer team.)

As a result of this, Ford was targeted for lawsuits and the Explorer fell from its perch as the #1 selling SUV to near oblivion.

No stats are available for deaths in the Chinese truck, but obviously if it had been as popular in the US as the Explorer was, and was operated at US highway speeds, its death count would have been spectacularly morbid. But what choice do the citizens of Statist China have? The nation manufactures all their automotive options (and the others are just as bad; see clips here, here, here, here.) And Chinese citizens certainly can't sue their government.

China's Statist mindset was also evident in the recent earthquake, where the collapse of schools and possible collapse of dams is more evidence that the state was more interested in taking care of its business than it was in taking care of its people.

Contrast that to Individualist America. When earthquakes hit or tornadoes threaten, where are we told to evacuate to? Schools. To us, protecting the next generation is our tantamount goal. To China, it is merely to educate them. (We could use a bit more emphasis on education, however ...)

Last week, we helped one of our water district clients win regulatory approval of a 266-million-gallon earth dam reservoir just up-valley from a high school. There wasn't a peep of protest, despite an extensive outreach campaign to inform the public. Why? Because people here have cause to trust our dam construction techniques and our government's watchful control. Why? Because they don't have any experience with dam collapses, since collapses are so rare.

Do you think the Chinese government would have carried out an outreach campaign? Would they give the Chinese people a voice in the decision-making, or would they just slap a shoddy dam wherever they wanted? The weak, threatening dams throughout the earthquake zone give us our answer.

One last example. When the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant failed, thanks to our Individualist state's reams of regulations designed to protect the public no matter the expense, no one was injured. Some radioactive gas was released; it dissipated; that was it.

In Statist Russia, where nuclear power plant technology was developed to speed production of power to feed Soviet industry, not to protect the Soviet citizens, when a failure hit the Chernobyl plant, there weren't the same safeguards:
All the Chernobyl reactors were of a design that the Russians call the RBMK--natural uranium-fueled, water-cooled, graphite-moderated--a design that American physicist and Nobel laureate Hans Bethe has called "fundamentally faulty, having a built-in instability." Because of the instability, an RBMK reactor that loses its coolant can under certain circumstances increase in reactivity and run progressively faster and hotter rather than shut itself down. Nor were the Chernobyl reactors protected by containment structures like those required for U.S. reactors, though they were shielded with heavy concrete covers. ...

No commercial reactor in the United States is designed anything like the RBMK reactor. Cohen summarizes several of the differences:

1. A reactor which is unstable against a loss of water could not be licensed in the United States.

2. A reactor which is unstable against a temperature increase could not be licensed here.

3. A large power reactor without a containment [structure] could not be licensed here. (source)

Such is the nature of radiation that we will never really know how many people were killed by the Soviet Statists. In 2006, the World Health Organization estimated up to 9,000 people died or will die of cancer because of the incident. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency governed by the WHO and 16 member nations, published an estimate of 6,700 to 38,000 in a peer-reviewed journal. Greenpeace came up with 93,000 to 200,000, an overestimation typical of environmental hysteria cultists. (source)

But what of America's nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere over Nevada and Utah -- were we behaving as a Statist nation? There were obvious strains of Statism in the decision to test bombs there, driven by heightened Statism that occurs during times of external threats to the nation. But there were also two arguments countering Statism in the testing: First, the nation picked the most remote, unpopulated part of the nation for the test, which reflects concern for the individual, and second, we didn't really know what we were messing with -- unlike the Soviets who made a willful decision in the design of Chernobyl.

I could go on: Katrina vs. Myanmar, hot weather deaths in Paris vs. St. Louis, or the poor Chinese school kids who died when the fireworks they were required by the state to manufacture during school exploded. But the case has been made. Putting the government first is bad for the health, welfare and happiness of the people.

And yet, there are factions in the US -- let's call them Democrats -- who want to give more power to the state. They want the state in control of education, health care, what we eat (fat bans in Dem stronghold of NYC), what we hear (the renewed Fairness Doctrine debate), how marriage is to be defined.

Despite myriad examples of what happens when power is taken away from the people, they press on towards greater and greater collectivism. And they're winning. The zenith of conservatism -- the Individualist state -- in the modern era was reached in either the 50s or the 80s depending on your perspective. Since then, America has been sliding over our protests towards collectivist Statism.

There will be no improvement in the short term since all three remaining presidential candidates (Is Hillary still remaining? I haven't checked in the last hour.) are all more Statist than Individualist, and Congress should be firmly in the control of the Statists for at least one more election cycle. I'm a believer in pendulum swings, and I trust America will come up with another Reagan at some point ... but the question is, how much irreversible damage will be done before that occurs?

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Friday, May 30, 2008

In Which I Finally Understand Why Some People Hate Christians

We're such a fine bunch of people. Forgiving. Compassionate. Nice looking. So how is it that some many people don't like us Christians? Could it be because of this guy?
[Rev. Michael] Pfleger, too, issued an apology, saying he was sorry if his comments offended Clinton or anyone else.
Let's play back the tape:
I said before I don’t want this to be politica because, you know, I’m very unpolitical (mocking tone, huge laughter).

…When Hillary was crying (gesturing tears, uproarious laughter from audience)–and people said that was put on–I really don’t believe it was put on.

I really believe that she just always thought ‘This is mine’ (laughter, hoots). ‘I’m Bill’s wife. I’m WHITE. And this is mine. And I jus’ gotta get up. And step into the plate. And then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.’ And she said: ‘Oh, damn!’ WHERE DID YOU COME FROM!?!?! (Crowd going nuts, Pfleger screaming). I’M WHITE! I’M ENTITLED! THERE’S A BLACK MAN STEALING MY SHOW. (SOBS!) SHE WASN’T THE ONLY ONE CRYING! THERE WAS A WHOLE LOTTA WHITE PEOPLE CRYING!
He's sorry if his comments offended Clinton?

So Christian teachers aren't just self-loathers who hate and sell out their own people, they're also those disgusting "if my comments offended" kind of butt-sniffers?

Now I understand. I just never run into any Christians like him.

But then I don't run in Barack's circles.

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Warmies Seek To "Pombo-ize" Congress

What are the chances of New Mexico getting impacted by global warming spawned rising oceans? Zero -- no, less than zero. But that doesn't stop the propagandists at the Defenders of Wildlife from using it to try to knock off Republicans, just as the knocked off Richard Pombo in 2006.

They're running this ad against New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce:

Here's a partial transcript:
Little girl: This is my congressman, Steve Pearce. (points to man with head stuck into the ground) He cares so much about my future he’s going to get his head out of the sand and help stop global warming.

Pearce: (pulls his head out with a "thwok" sound) No, I’m not. Little girl, we don’t need to do anything about global warming.

Little girl: Then why are you melting?

Pearce: I’m not melting. I feel fantastic. It’s not hot.

Little girl: (as the sea begins to engulf them) That’s because the sea level is rising around us.

Pearce: No, it’s not. Prove it. Stop being hysterical. The rising sea stuff, that’s a theory. Like the theory of gravity.

Little girl: You don’t believe in gravity?

Pearce: Is all the evidence in? I don’t think so.
It's all ludicrous, of course. New Mexico is already hot enough to melt steel, it has no oceans and Pearce, by all accounts, is a firm believer in gravity. Besides, he's a chrome-dome, no neatly coiffed silver lobbyist-cut on him.

So what crime did Pearce commit that is so onerous the Greenies are after him in the primaries? (He's running against Heather Wilson, also a Greenie target, for a chance to run against the more green-tinted Tom Udall for Pete Domenichi's Senate seat.) Oh, really radical offenses, like saying stuff like this:
It is a crucial period for New Mexico and energy production. We must reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy from countries headed by oppressive dictators. Our country is in need of greater domestic supply. On the House Natural Resources Committee I have been a leader in making renewable and alternative forms of energy a high priority.

We must also look to make our traditional sources of energy, such as oil and coal, environmentally friendly. Through our domestic supplies of oil shale and coal alone, we could significantly reduce our need for foreign sources energy. But we must do so in a way that considers the environmental impact of retrieving those resources.
Yup. Nasty. As High Country News puts it,
This 60-second animation was the first salvo fired by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund in its battle against New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce and five other Republican lawmakers, over their support for carbon-intensive fossil fuel industries.
Pearce is being targeted strategically by the Greenies:
"We’ve found over the past seven years that science, law and policy analysis are not enough -- we have to change the decision-makers. So we’re focusing on members of committees that matter," says Fund director Rodger Schlickeisen, who hopes to tip the balance in Congress toward "a significant piece of legislation that redirects our energy policy away from fossil fuels."
Pearce is on the Natural Resources Committee, and the Greenies don't want any views on that Committee opposing their view that natural resources aren't really resources, they're just natural stuff to keep your hands off. The Defenders of Wildlife spent about $2.5 million in the 2006 election cycle, $1.5 million on its successful effort to knock off Richard Pombo. This year, it's expected they'll have $3 million to target key GOP committee members.

Unfortunately, this kind of challenge is very difficult to fight. With few exceptions, there are no national groups that can take up the cause of a Pearce or a Wilson, and they're so underfunded they can't compete against a big Greenie group like Defenders of Wildlife. Besides, even if a counter-attack were mounted, the Greenies would just point to energy company funding of the effort and demand that voters dismiss the ad as not credible -- as if their ad were credible, as if they're not just as biased by the truckfuls of money they collect from anti-energy interests.

This calls for what I call train wreck communications. We keep trying to apply the brakes of course, but public opinion is driving us at full speed into a major crash. Since that's the case, we fight defensive battles to protect those we love (those nice coal miners and oil drillers, for example), and prepare ourselves for when the crash happens. Then, we'll be ready to redirect a suddenly disillusioned public onto a safer track.

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Two More Votes For Obama!

This just in from the Providence RI Journal:

PROVIDENCE –– The state Board of Elections voted unanimously yesterday to preserve the voting rights of two men found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity some 20 years ago.

The panel overturned a nine-month-old decision by Cranston elections officials, who found that William Sarmento and John A. Sarro were too mentally ill to cast a ballot.

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McClellan Dregs: This Explains Everything

How could a guy known by all his colleagues too be a pro-Bush, pro-war on terror stand-up guy suddenly turn into ... well ... a Scott McClellan? That question has mystified his former colleagues, as WaPo captures well today:
Trent Duffy, who worked as McClellan's deputy for more than two years, said of the avid University of Texas sports fan: 'Tomorrow maybe we're going to learn he's rooting for the Oklahoma Sooners.'
Finally, there's an answer, provided by McClellan himself in an interview with USA Today:
"I have a lot of respect and admiration for Sen. McCain," former White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a telephone interview with USA TODAY's David Jackson this afternoon.

"I'm also intrigued by Sen. Obama," McClellan added.
Assuming "intrigued" means "considering voting for," then we know why McClellan sold out his former boss: He was either posing the whole time he was in the White House, or he's gone stark raving mad.

So, again, the other question: Why would anyone care what this guy has to say?

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Watcher's Winners

Bookworm has a knack for taking an ages-old issue -- oh, say the Middle East morass -- and presenting it with sparkling new clarity. That's what she did this week in her post Why Jews are right to suspect Obama's advisors, and that's why she's the winner in this week's Watcher's Council competition for the best o' the blogs.

Soccer Dad came in second with Dear Dr. Hoyt, which exposes academic antisemitism. My post, UN Peacekeepers raping children ... again, came in tied for fourth.

Among the non-Watcher's Council entries, Deep thoughts with Biggie Smalls, tales of an Iraqi translator from Kaboom, came in first, followed by a second-place tie: Over Red Coffee Cans and Cigarettes from long-time blog-friend The Paragraph Farmer and Return to Sender from Iowahawk. The latter, as regular Iowahawk readers will know, is a humorous piece, regaling politicians for the conversions they go under because of DC fever. The Paragraph Farmer's piece is an imaginary conversation on appeasement with his colorful but passed on grandmother.

See all the winners here.

Thanks, Watcher of Weasels, for tying all the ballet slippers nice and tight so another entertaining dance of the electrons could be performed.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Obama Gets Valued Castro Kudos

I missed this news from Monday (so shoot me), but it merits repeating: Fidel Castro has picked Barack Obama as "the most-advanced candidate in the presidential race."

It wasn't quite a full-on endorsement since Castro's not happy with Obama's call for a continued (though loosened) Cuba boycott, but it's clear Castro thinks he's got more in common with Obama than either Hillary or McCain.

The Obama campaign should be able to tweak Castro's kudos enough to use it along with their valuable Hamas and Michael Moore endorsements. That'll shore up support from the whacko Left (as if they need it). And hey, since Obama's included Raul Castro with Ahmadinejad as blood-soaked despots he'll talk to without condition, he just might be able to get a full endorsement yet.

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McClellan Dregs: Scotty's On The Soros Payroll

Scott McClellan is making his media rounds today, trying desperately to turn his one-day media spotlight stretch into two. And what a day it was -- over 1 million Google hits for "McClellan what happened" (that's the name of his book, in case you somehow missed it), and no fewer than 640 hits on Nexis. Super.

One of the more interesting hits was this, from NewsBusters:
Peter Osnos, who wrote Wednesday that he “worked very closely” with Scott McClellan on McClellan's new book published by PublicAffairs which Osnos founded, is a liberal whose publishing house is affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine and the publisher of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. PublicAffairs has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Ari Fleischer related that “Scott told me that his editor did 'tweak,' in Scott's word, a lot of the writing, especially in the last few months.” In an “Eat the Press” blog entry Wednesday, Rachel Sklar asked Osnos: “Did you work directly on the book with McClellan? (Who was his editor?)” Osnos replied: “The editor was Lisa Kaufman and yes, I worked very closely with them.”
Osnos' Public Affairs publishing is part of The Perseus Group; Little Green Footballs adds that there are several companies with this curious coincidence: they have both "Soros" and "Perseus" in them, like Perseus-Soros Management LLC. (Perseus was the son of Zeus and was the lucky guy who got the task of killing Medusa, which he accomplished neatly.)

McClellan is either a smart guy who knows exactly who he's working with, which means he completely and knowingly sold out his boss and the war against Islamist terror, aligning with the hard-core lefties; or, he's an incredibly stupid guy who has no idea who he's working with and therefore can't be trusted in anything he deduces.

I'm afraid it's the former. And worse, I'm afraid he'll do OK with it all. The media blitz has no legs, but now he has signaled to academia and the media that he's safe to book. The protracted and lucrative campus tour will be starting shortly, and soon to follow will be his gig as a commentator on NBC.

A good attack on McClellan from White House counselor Dan Bartlett can be found here. I particularly like how it points out that during the run-up to the war McClellan was a schlep, the deputy press secretary for domestic affairs, without access to anything remotely "inside" regarding the planning for the Iraq war he now terms as "rushed."

But good as Bartlett's attack is, it will make no difference. McClellan has the Soros seal of approval now, so even though the media storm will not last through the week, his new career as a Bush-whacker will feather his nest ... but it won't salve his conscience. If he has one.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McClellan Proves The Need For The Odd Press Secretary Model

Scott McClellan, former presidential press secretary turned turncoat with the publication of his memoir, has quite a publicity storm around him this morning. Here are the links under the lead McClellan story this morning on memorandum:
The Swamp, Attackerman,, The Corner, MSNBC, Too Sense, Daily Kos, Political Machine,, Outside The Beltway, On Deadline, Redstate, Brilliant at Breakfast, Informed Comment, Hot Air, Don Surber, THE GUN TOTING LIBERAL™, Emptywheel, Washington Monthly, Pam's House Blend, Facing South, David Corn, The Raw Story, Jules Crittenden, I Am TRex, Crooks and Liars, Romenesko, The Moderate Voice, Donklephant, Oliver Willis, The Reaction, Political Byline, The Washington Note, First Draft, Liberal Values, KIKO'S HOUSE, Connecting.the.Dots, Alternate Brain, Salon, The Art of the Possible, RADAMISTO, Macsmind, Political Punch, Rising Hegemon and Taegan Goddard's …
You can certainly read them, but they boil down to this: Everyone on the left says McClellan vindicates everything they believe about President Bush, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby; everyone on the right says he's a cheap sell-out. That's not what I'm writing about, per se.

Rather, I'm writing about McClellan's job. Not his job performance, which Seth Liebsohn nails down pretty well at The Corner, but his job.

In many ways, it's like my job. I am often the public spokesperson on a project, but my job is different from McClellan's old gig in that I don't allow myself to be kept in the dark so that my comments can be limited and my deniability can be plausible. I believe the role of the communications consultant is to understand all the facts and work with the client team to determine how best to present them, both immediately and over time.

Of course, the job of White House Press Secretary also is not at all like my job. There's much more interest in his client; there are many, many more stories; the press is never avoidable, and most importantly, the stakes are exponentially higher. That's why the typical and tested White House model is to have a senior circle -- consider it too simply as President Bush and Rove -- and an junior circle that is briefed fully enough to communicate what the senior circle decides.

Would I take such a job, one that sets me up to periodically be a fog machine on the truth? I certainly wouldn't in the private sector, or for any government position short of a national security position like McClellan's. To take a press secretary job at the White House, CIA, State or Pentagon means that you understand your role as a distributor of designer information. And that means that after you leave, you don't write a book complaining that you may have misled the media. Of course you misled the media.

McClellan did more than attack Bush; he attacked the position of White House Press Secretary, making it unlikely the Press Secretary will ever be admitted into the Senior Circle, for good reason. And in the process, he underscored the unseemly character of his work.

One of the major blabs in McClellan's book has to do with the Plame Game, and the actions of Rove and Libby. Off limits. National security. McClellan can point to the legal battles and the Leftist lingo, but as a former White House official, he should see this matter is now tied up in the war debate, and since the administration is in office and the war is still going on, there is nothing at all that he should say about it.

His writing on Katrina has nothing to do with national security, but he still shouldn't be writing it because he accepted a job that entailed an understanding of his position not just while he was on the payroll, but after -- again, at least as long as the current administration is in office.

His is the worst kind of sell-out. We gather no new information from him because he is a junior level guy who (by smart design, it turns out) wasn't in the information loop at the senior levels. So we read his opinion about how the administration blundered in handling the war. McClellan has no meaningful perspective to offer there because he was on the tail end of the info-trian.

And we read that he thought the picture of Bush surveying the Katrina damage from Air Force One was a bad idea, but he was overruled. Interesting and correct -- but if the price we have to pay for it is having him undercut the administration for 30 pieces of silver ... well, let's just say that McClellan illustrates the necessity of the senior tier/junior tier model.

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Wednesday Reading

Let's all welcome to The Razor as the newest edition of the Watcher's Council, filling the rather awesome shoes of Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse. Also of note this week -- curious note -- I have, for the second week in a row, nominated the non-Watcher's Council Post with the longest name. You'll see it below.

Council links:

  1. Dear Mr Hoyt
    Soccer Dad
  2. In Which It Gets Worse
    Done With Mirrors
  3. Cowbama Diplomacy and Iran
    Wolf Howling
  4. An Honest Assesment of the MSM's Problem
    Rhymes With Right
  5. Reflections on the State of the Republic
    Hillbilly White Trash
  6. Why Jews Are Right To Suspect Obama's Advisers
    Bookworm Room
  7. Will History Redeem President Bush?
    The Colossus of Rhodey
  8. Strange Device
    The Glittering Eye
  9. Peacekeepers Raping Children... Again
    Cheat Seeking Missiles
  10. Say Goodnight, Hillary
    The Education Wonks
  11. Looking At The Last Full Measure Of Devotion
  12. Memorial Day 2008
    The Razor
Non-council links:
  1. Return to Sender
  2. Deep Thoughts with Biggie Smalls
    Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal
  3. An Open Letter to Senator Obama on Iran
    Pajamas Media
  4. Democratic Congress Votes to Defund the Future of Military Prepardness
  5. The State of Englishness
    The Brussels Journal
  6. Over Red Coffee Cans and Cigarettes
    The Paragraph Farmer
  7. Siege of the Ivory Tower
    The New York Sun
  8. Madonna of China: Chinese Policewoman Saves Orphan Babies' Lives by Breastfeeding Them
    The Moderate Voice
  9. Obama Excludes Military Service as Way to Serve Country in Memorial Day Weekend Commencement Speech
    Bottom Line Up Front
  10. Remembrances
    Classical Values
  11. All the Views They Spit Into Print
    Big Lizards
  12. Libertarian Party Embraces Big Tent
    Outside the Beltway
  13. Unavoidable Sadness
    Eternity Road
  14. Google Earth Mysteries
The Watcher's Council will submit its votes to the Watcher of Weasels Thursday afternoon, and you can see the results here Friday morning.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stone Has Her Chinese Dixie Chick Moment

It's probably not going to have much negative impact on her pretty much washed up career, but Sharon Stone is persona non grata in China:
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Sharon Stone's "karma" is having an instant effect on her movie-star status in China.

The 50-year-old actress suggested last week that the devastating May 12 earthquake in China could have been the result of bad karma over the government's treatment of Tibet. That prompted the founder of one of China's biggest cinema chains to say his company would not show her films in his theaters, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter.

"I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else," Stone said Thursday during a Cannes Film Festival red-carpet interview with Hong Kong's Cable Entertainment News. "And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"

Ng See-Yuen, founder of the UME Cineplex chain and the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, called Stone's comments "inappropriate," adding that actors should not bring personal politics to comments about a natural disaster that has left five million Chinese homeless, according to the Reporter.

UME has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, China's biggest urban movie markets.
It's easy to ridicule the supercilious inanity of Stone's world view -- "I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else" -- but, hey, anyone who smacks down China, no matter how inanely, is OK with me.

But Sharon, do you think maybe you could add a bit of criticism to the Beijingoists for "being unkind" to China's long-suffering Christians? Don't they deserve the attention of your all a-glitter Hollywood self?

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I'm not sure if I've got that third acronym right -- Mad Mullahs For Nuking Israel, right? -- but the first one sure undercut the second one yesterday, much to the detriment of the third one.

The NIE, National Intelligence Estimate, gave the MMFNI a bunch of breathing room when it came out last December, claiming that to the best of the combined knowledge of the U.S. intelligence community, Iran was not currently pursuing a nuclear weapon. Or at least we were "moderately confident" that was the case.

Israel, for whom mere "moderate confidence" could spell death, was not so sure.

Now it turns out that the IAEA, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, isn't so sure either. Its report, released yesterday goes way beyond "moderate confidence" to say Iran's nuclear weapons program is "a matter of serious concern" because of:
  • Willful lack of cooperation
  • 18 documents that indicate the Iranians are working on explosives, uranium processing and warhead design — activities the NYT bravely reports "could be associated with constructing nuclear weapons." Duh.
  • Failure to report R&D activities on faster, more productive centrifuges
  • Iranian denial of access to sites where centrifuge components were being manufactured and where research of uranium enrichment was being conducted
In short:
“The Iranians are certainly being confronted with some pretty strong evidence of a nuclear weapons program, and they are being petulant and defensive,” said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who now runs the Institute for Science and International Security. “The report lays out what the agency knows, and it is very damning. I’ve never seen it laid out quite like this.”
To which Baghdad Bob Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the atomic energy agency, responded
... that the report vindicated Iran’s nuclear activities. It “is another document that shows Iran’s entire nuclear activities are peaceful,” the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted him as saying.
Anyone who still believes the NIE presented an honest assessment of Iran's nuke-quest has two choices when confronting the IAEA's actions: They can admit they were wrong, and that at a minimum we can be "moderately confident" that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, or they can align themselves with the MMFNI.

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Lieberman Shows His True Colors

The other day, I heard a caller on a talk radio show suggest Joe Lieberman as John McCain's running mate. I almost ran off the road.

Lieberman gets a lot of conservative love because of his position on the war, but only an ignoramus would want him anywhere within a thousand miles of a GOP ticket since he's very liberal on everything but the war -- an indisputable fact made even less disputable by Lieberman-Warner.

The bill, co-authored by John Warner, would impose on the US a cap and trade system to save the world from industrialization and all the evils (health, prosperity, efficiency, sufficiency) it brings. Stated more honestly, it is the largest statist wealth and power grab to come down the pike (via a Prius) in decades.

The bill seeks to place caps on industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and create a market that would allow clean companies to sell their excess GHG capacity to the highest bidder, with the stated goal of returning to 2005 GHG emission levels by 2012, and to reduce that by 30% by 2030.

Even free-market people have come to accept these cap and trade approaches as acceptable, but they are anything but. Here's how the WSJ breaks it down:
And for the most part, the politicians favor cap and trade because it is an indirect tax. A direct tax – say, on gasoline – would be far more transparent, but it would also be unpopular. Cap and trade is a tax imposed on business, disguising the true costs and thus making it more politically palatable. In reality, firms will merely pass on these costs to customers, and ultimately down the energy chain to all Americans. Higher prices are what are supposed to motivate the investments and behavioral changes required to use less carbon.

The other reason politicians like cap and trade is because it gives them a cut of the action and the ability to pick winners and losers. Some of the allowances would be given away, at least at the start, while the rest would be auctioned off, with the share of auctions increasing over time. This is a giant revenue grab. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these auctions would net $304 billion by 2013 and $1.19 trillion over the next decade. Since the government controls the number and distribution of allowances, it is also handing itself the political right to influence the price of every good and service in the economy.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this meddling would cause a cumulative reduction in the growth of GDP by between 0.9% and 3.8% by 2030. Add 20 years, and the reduction is between 2.4% and 6.9% – that is, from $1 trillion to $2.8 trillion.
Where is global warming amidst all this swirling money and power? Nowhere. If India and China don't get cleaner, everything we do will be utterly inconsequential. If they do get their act together, everything we do will be almost completely inconsequential.

As long as Bush is in office, this bill will go nowhere. But with all three prez wannabees professing to be deeply engaged in Warmie mysticism (a.k.a. Hystericology), a bill like this will pass in a year or two ... unless, miracle of miracles, the elected masses discover that it's getting cooler, not warmer, both climatically and economically.

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Peacekeepers Raping Children ... Again

The Peacekeepers are back at it again -- "piece-seeking,"' not peacekeeping -- with their disgusting focus on the children they are sent to protect in war-torn nations. BBC reports on a report from Save The Children:
Save the Children says the most shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that most of it goes unreported and unpunished, with children too scared to speak out.

A 13-year-old girl, "Elizabeth" (pictured here) described to the BBC how 10 UN peacekeepers gang-raped her in a field near her Ivory Coast home.

"They grabbed me and threw me to the ground and they forced themselves on me... I tried to escape but there were 10 of them and I could do nothing," she said.

"I was terrified. Then they just left me there bleeding."

No action has been taken against the soldiers.

Don't let that last sentence pass you by, because it's the standard operating procedure. Under current Peacekeeping protocols, the UN has no criminal jurisdiction over Peacekeepers; it must rely on the offending Peacekeeper's home country to prosecute. That's the excuse, anyway. The UN could conduct a prosecutorial investigation of each alleged crime, forward the file to the Peacekeeper's home judicial system, and pressure for prosecution. But it rarely does.

You can read the Save The Children report here and the organization's press release on the report here. Some excerpts from the release:

A new report released today by Save the Children UK shows that children living in conflict-affected countries fear to report sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping troops and humanitarian aid workers.

Despite recent political commitments by governments and international organisations to tackle this problem, the report exposes the chronic under-reporting of such abuse, which leaves many children around the world suffering in silence. ...

Save the Children UK's research in Ivory Coast, Southern Sudan and Haiti shows that children as young as six are being abused by adults working for the international community. The children interviewed highlighted many different types of abuse, including trading food for sex, rape, child prostitution, pornography, indecent sexual assault and trafficking of children for sex.

"People don't report it because they are worried that the agency will stop working here, and we need them", explained a teenage boy in Southern Sudan....

The report reveals that the perpetrators of sexual abuse of children can be found in every type of humanitarian, peace and security organisation, at every grade of staff, and among both locally recruited and international staff.
For its part, the UN (shown here, looking the other way) said it "welcomed" the report ... as it has welcomed numerous reports in the past, dutifully commissioning studies and investigations, all of which have been beautifully bound and carefully set on shelves, but all of which have failed to stop the rapes. Claudia Rosette gets it right:
Oh, great. The UN can add this report to its research collection of previous reports on UN peacekeeper rape in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the Congo and so forth; and we can look forward to more UN statements on the issue, such as Kofi Annan’s “zero tolerance” policy of 2005, or his zero-zero tolerance policy of 2006 (when he “strengthened” the zero tolerance of 2005), and Assistant-Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute’s zero-zero-zero “zero tolerance” promises of 2007 …
Here are the 18 stories I've written previously on this topic. Outside of the blogsophere, good luck finding this level of reporting on the Peacekeeper rape crisis.

Imagine, if you will, the press coverage there would be if the abusers at Abu Ghraib kept coming back year after year, with ever more horrific abuse of the prisoners in their care. Even though Abu Ghraib is full of hardened terrorist fighters, not innocent under-age children, the press would be covering it in dozens of front-page stories.

But you don't see that. You won't see that. This latest report will slip beneath they tide of type because the media has more important things to do than protecting children from UN Peacekeepers. Yes, it's a full-time job denigrating America -- who has time for anything else?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Photo Tribute

Who do they die for, the soldiers we honor today?

Is it the past; for our traditions, our foundations of freedom, our long-burning light for the world?

Is it the present; for brothers and sisters and children and folks who need protection now to secure their futures?

Or is it our future; for the opportunity to live in a world where there is more freedom and less warfare?

All that matters of course is the sacrifice, the tens of thousands of greatest sacrifices of all that we honor today. And for that, I'll turn to my past, present and future, my first born, back when I was young, who works with me today, and who I pray will be carrying some part of me forward when I'm gone. She is in Washington DC now and I am borrowing my Memorial Day post from the photos she has posted on her trip blog.

Every star on this long, long wall represents one soldier, sailor or marine who lost his or her life in WWII. One of them is for my mom's cousin Christopher Fassnacht, who's bomber was shot down over Germany. Thankfully, one is not for my father, who survived submarine warfare in the Pacific to return and live out his part of the Greatest Generation.

I would like someday to help place the 260,000 memorial flags at Arlington -- but that honorable task is assigned to the Third United States Infantry Regiment (the Old Guard), not mere civilians like me.

The Vietnam War Memorial moved my daughters greatly, as it does so many. ID #1 has many, many photos of it up on her blog; here's a selection.

The note says, "I love you -- you are my light. I'll miss you as long as the Sun turns in the sky. Ann." Michael H. Cavanaugh, you died for your country many years ago and still your light burns, as do so many lights, so many flames of freedom whose lives may have been cut short, but whose flames burn on.

I'll close with this powerful photo. The Korean War troops patrol in the shadows, their faces etched with the sharp attention they are focusing on their duty; it is as if they are eternally on a dark and dangerous patrol to protect America, who you see in the background, swathed in bright sunlight.

God bless our troops.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Euro-Editorial Against Obama!

Here's how most Europeans think about American elections, according to the Financial Times Deutschland:
American politics have undergone drastic change in the past decades except for one thing: we Europeans and especially we Germans hope for a Democrat at every election. We dream of a Kennedy and are then disappointed when we get a Nixon, a Reagan, or a Bush. We thought Reagan was an actor and George W. Bush was a lunatic. And we celebrate each time the Americans bring out a Clinton, a Gore, or an Obama. We celebrate because these candidate’s politics come closest to resembling our nebulous European sentiments.
So of course they're all giddy over Obama ... all except for this same Financial Times Deutschland:
As a European, I can’t really imagine why we would want a President Obama. His “Invest in America” policy can hardly be topped as protectionist mindset, and his “Fair Trade” policies would lead to a restriction of world trade. All this under the cloak of social justice for his constituents.
If it's all about the economy, stupid, we need a president who can bring us out of the current economic transitional period -- and that won't be the guy who ignores the free market and attempts to force the world economy into a protectionist, non-cooperative box.

On foreign policy, Obama will talk to anyone. On the economy, he'll talk to no one; his mantra is to talk to no one, no Fair Trade, no foreigners allowed. All that means is that the world will move along without us.

It's just the stuff to expect should you be foolish enough to elect a neophyte as president.

Hat-tip: Watching America

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Sunday Scan

A Memorial Day Miracle

This Memorial Day weekend, it would not be right if tears did not well up at least once over a memory or a story of a brave warrior who fell in battle defending our freedoms.

The story of Marine Sgt. Merlin German isn't really such a story. After all, he fell three years after the IED explosion that starts this story. Sgt. German was, no doubt, a great Marine. But the public story of his greatness began after Iraq, as he was treated for the burns and injuries he sustained in that explosion. His true heroics were found in his will to survive, and to help others survive, and to lift up everyone around him.

Like this:

But he was closest to his mother. When the hospital's Holiday Ball approached in 2006, German told Norma Guerra [a hospital worker and mother of a serviceman in Iraq] he wanted to surprise his mother by taking her for a twirl on the dance floor.

Guerra thought he was kidding. She knew it could be agony for him just to take a short walk or raise a scarred arm.

But she agreed to help, and they rehearsed for months, without his mother knowing. He chose a love song to be played for the dance: "Have I Told You Lately?" by Rod Stewart.

That night he donned his Marine dress blues and shiny black shoes — even though it hurt to wear them. When the time came, he took his mother in his arms and they glided across the dance floor.

Everyone stood and applauded. And everyone cried.

AP reporter Sharon Cohen writes a wonderful tribute to Sgt. Germany today, 'Miracle' Marine refused to surrender will to live. It is a must-read for this Memorial Day weekend.

Many must be reading it, because the web site for the foundation Sgt. Germany set up to help children with burns, Merlin's Miracles, has crashed. Make a point of going back when it's up, and if it looks worthy, make a contribution in his memory.

Meanwhile, In Iraq

Sgt. Miracle would have been pleased with this report:
BAGHDAD (AP) - ... Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, a military spokesman, said violence has dropped some 70 percent since a U.S. troop buildup began nearly a year ago. ...

"You are not going to hear me say that al-Qaida is defeated, but they've never been closer to defeat than they are now," Crocker said, speaking in Arabic to reporters during a visit to the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Driscoll said the number of attacks in the past week had "decreased to the level not seen since March 2004," due to recent military operations against Shiite militias in Baghdad's Sadr City and the southern city of Basra, as well as Sunni insurgents in the northern city of Mosul.
Did you catch that last bit? Iraqi military actions (with our support) against both Shi'ites and Sunnis. How can the Left say we're not making progress in Iraq?

Governor Romney ... Of California?

Mitt Romney has an oceanfront house in escrow in San Diego's toniest seaside town, La Jolla. San Diego Union Tribune columnist Diane Bell asks:
The question of the day: Could Romney be planning to establish residency in California with an eye on the governor's seat? Gov. Schwarzenegger is forced out by term limits in 2010. Stay tuned . .
The Death Of Global Warming?

Skeptics haven't been able to kill it. Ten consecutive years of cooler weather since the last hotest year hasn't been able to kill it. But politics just might kill global warming.

In England Warmie fanatic and premier Gordon Brown is being counseled to drop extremely unpopular taxes to discourage car use:
Gordon Brown is being urged by ministers to scrap rises in car taxes and petrol duty as he struggles to regain popularity after a humiliating by-election defeat. ...

Cabinet colleagues are privately urging him to tackle the issue of motoring costs as a way of helping households struggling with rising fuel, energy and food bills. (Guardian)
And in Japan:
These rugged green mountains, once home to one of Asia's most productive coal regions, are littered with abandoned mines and decaying towns - backwaters of an economy of bullet trains and hybrid cars. But after decades of seemingly terminal decline, Japan's coal country is stirring again. With energy prices reaching record highs - oil settled above $135 a barrel on Thursday - Japan's high-cost mines are suddenly competitive again, and demand for their coal is booming.
That's from the NYT that also tells us:
In recent months, South Korea has experienced calls to create a domestic coal industry in order to reduce dependence on imports. In the United Kingdom, where coal’s decline became a symbol of withered industrial might, companies are increasing production and considering reopening at least one closed mine as demand for British coal rises.
This is getting good! Just as Greenie politics are getting successful enough to actually impact the economy, politicians are trying to figure out how to bring government facilitation of Warmie fanaticism to an end.

hat-tip: Greenie Watch

Dead Revolutionary

Ah, the romance of the revolutionary life!
The leader of Latin America’s largest and longest- surviving insurgency group, Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda, died from a heart attack at the weekend, raising hopes in Colombia that a 44-year-old civil war which has claimed 200,000 lives may finally be drawing to an end. (Times of London)
Let's recap. Marulanda spent his early life trying to try to overthrow a government so he could be another Castro. He failed miserably in that effort, but continued the obviously failed effort for no other reason than to stay employed, bringing death to thousands in the process.

Were the people made better by his life? Was the world? Of course not. The revolution was nothing more than a means to his ends, and how he's ended, a failure, an evil that is no more. Now can the rest of FARC join him?

Hysterical Mommies At The NYT

Nervous, nail-biting mommies most have overtaken the NYT editorial board. Here's what they had to say last week:
Anybody worried about the potential danger from plastic bottles and cups, especially for the very young, should take note. The Canadian government has announced plans to restrict the use of bisphenol-a, or BPA, a chemical used to make hardened plastics. The government would prohibit the sale of baby bottles made with BPA. (Those are the ones with the numeral 7 in the triangle stamp on the bottom).
The editorial goes on to call on Congress to push for a ban of BPA in baby bottles or cups, and to authorize investigations into the use of BPA in bike helmets and baby seats.

I'm sorry, but moms are already too worried about far too many things that don't deserve their worry, and the NYT should be more careful ... more reportorial ... before they heap another worry on them. Here's the Stats Blog on just how unfounded the NYT hysteria is:

There are moments when you wonder whether the world is going insane over the wrong health risks. Take BPA. There is no study showing that BPA harms humans or that BPA leaching from baby bottles poses an actual, measurable risk.

The European Union’s Food Safety Authority conducted a risk assessment focusing on the threat to infants in 2006; it was carried out by 21 independent scientists; it raised the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) by a factor of five; in other words, it found BPA considerably safer than it first thought - so safe a mother could give her baby four times the normal number of bottles per day before reaching the threshold of safe consumption (which has an additional safety factor of 100).

The Japanese government also conducted a risk assessment: no risk; a non-profit international consumer safety organization NSF did a risk assessment under the guidance of Calvin Willhite of the California EPA which was published a couple of months ago: again, no risk. The Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction did a risk analysis last year, and dismissed most of the risks activists had been complaining about for years; but they did have some concern over certain animal studies. Oddly, these studies and the effects were not the one’s commonly touted by anti-BPA activists. The National Toxicology Program agreed with the CERHR, but said there was no cause for alarm.

One common thread in these risk assessments is that some of the scientific research has been rejected. In fact, the same scientific research keeps getting rejected no matter which country is doing the risk assessment.
The Stats Blog, from George Mason University, receives no industry funding. It's just dedicated to trying to get people to report on statistical analyses more accurately.
Surely, readers deserve editorial writers that do a little bit more in the way of reporting, that are a bit more scientifically savvy, that have the nerve to exercise the journalistic equivalent of the precautionary principle, before igniting panic and telling Congress what it should be doing?

Incredible Wife says it's all well and good, but that glass bottles are better in any case, and if BPA makes them more available again, so much the better. But that's another story.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Yellow Munchkins From Hell

While doing some reading up on North Korea I found a particularly thorough 2003 article in New Republic that included this fascinating tidbit about the Korean People's Army:
... the height requirement for new recruits is now 1.3 metres, reflecting the effects of nearly two decades of malnutrition.
For the metric impaired, that's 4' 3". In 2005, the average American male was 5' 9 1/2" and the average woman was 5' 4" (source). The New Republic article doesn't make it clear whether the 4' 3" height is there mainly to capture NoKo women into the army, and it is a minimum height, not an average height, but its extreme shrimpiness is proof positive that the poor people of North Korea are being starved by their regime.

The article also makes it clear the NoKo cult culture is fanatical and allegiance to Li'l Kim is practically molecular among the long-suffering people. It is not a country where we can expect a people's uprising ... or, at least, expect a people's uprising to succeed.


Rumsfeld's Pre-War "Strategic Thoughts" Memo to Bush

I'm reading Douglas Feith's War and Decision on my Kindle, and am finding myself periodically "cutting" pages electronically for filing and future reference, and adding notes regularly -- excellent features that make the Kindle a good little reference tool.

This morning, I read Feith's summary of Rumsfeld's "Strategic Thoughts" memo that presented to President Bush the Pentagon's thinking at the conclusion of initial planning for the war in Afghanistan. It's fascinating to read today, so I'll present Feith's narrative and excerpts here. Italicized sections are from the actual memo; non-italicized indented sections are from Feith.
In the "Strategic Thoughts" paper, our main point was that the United States should be focusing on the state actors within the enemy network, which could create a strategic and humanitarian nightmare for us by giving a terrorist group a biological or nuclear weapon that could kill hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps even millions.
This purpose, so vivid in the days after 9/11, has faded now for many, but continues to be very real as Iran pursues its bomb, Islamists struggle to take over Pakistan, and intelligence reports of terrorist queries into various WMD components continue to trouble those who think rationally.
One way to disrupt terrorist groups was to compel their state sponsors to change policies on terrorism and on weapons of mass destruction. This could be done, we reasoned, through military action against some of the state sponsors, and pressure-- short of war -- against others. The effectiveness of the diplomatic pressure would hinge to some extent on the success of our military actions.
Contrast that with Obama's no preconditions, no military presence in Iraq approach.
In some cases, we would get leverage by aiding local opposition groups, rather than sending U.S. forces to take the lead in overthrowing foreign regimes. The regimes that supported terrorism tended to be oppressive domestically as well as aggressive internationally, so there were opposition groups in various countries that we could assist as a way of pressuring the leaders there. The U.S. "strategic theme," Rumsfeld advised the president, should be "aiding local peoples to rid themselves of terrorists and to free themselves of regimes that support terrorism."
We are seeing this work in Iraq today as local citizens are contributing information that is putting al-Qaeda on the run, but in general, the long war in Iraq is preventing us from implementing enough of this strategic theme elsewhere in Repressistan.
The United States could set up the pattern in Afghanistan by supporting the anti-Taliban and anti-al-Qaeda militias:
Air strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban targets are planned to begin soon. But, especially in the war's initial period, I think US military action should stress:
  • indirect (through local, non-US forces) action, in coordination with and in support of opposition groups;

  • direct use of US forces initially primarily to deliver logistics, intelligence and other support to opposition groups and humanitarian supplies to NGOs and refugees, and subsequently

  • on-the-ground action against the terrorists as individuals -- leaders and others ...
This is not at all as the war turned out, although it is pretty much how the war is today.
Rumsfeld cautioned that the United States should be restrained on air strikes until we had sufficient intelligence to mandate "impressive (worthwhile) strikes" against al Qaeda and other targets. In an especially remarkable passage, he also advised the President that victory in in the war on terrorism would require geopolitical changes substantial enough to cause every regime supporting terrorists to worry about its vulnerability:
If the war does not significantly change the world's political map, the U.S. will not achieve its aim. There is value in being clear on the order of magnitude of the necessary change. The USG [U.S. government] should envision a goal along these lines:
  • New regimes in Afghanistan and [some other states] that support terrorism (to strengthen political and military policies elsewhere.

  • Syria and Lebanon.

  • Dismantlement or destruction of WMD in [key states]

  • End of many other countries' support or tolerance of terrorism.
Feith does not reveal the other states where regime change and destruction of WMD capabilities were envisioned; presumably they are Iraq, Iran and North Korea (and Syria and Cuba to a lesser extent). Two of the three biggies still exist and there is little sign that we have moved them one bit off their positions immediately post 9-11. We have done much, but not enough, to stop other countries' support of or tolerance for terrorism, but these bullets are still largely unrealized.
Rumsfeld again raised the idea of deferring military strikes in Afghanistan:
  • It would instead be surprising and impressive if we built our forces up patiently, took some early action outside of Afghanistan, perhaps in multiple locations, and began not exclusively or primarily with military strikes but with train-and-equip activities with local opposition forces and humanitarian aid and intense information operations.

  • We could thereby:
  • Garner actionable intelligence on lucrative targets, which we do not now have.

  • Reduce emphasis on images of US killing Moslems from the air.

  • Signal that our goal is not merely to damage terrorist-supporting regimes but to threaten their regimes by becoming partners with their opponents.

  • Capitalize on our strong suit, which is not finding a few hundred terrorists in caves in Afghanistan, but in the vastness of our military and humanitarian resources, which can strengthen the opposition forces in terrorist-supporting states.
I am impressed with the clarity and visionary quality this original strategic framework for the GWOT. It is a decidedly American strategy, predicated on our military capabilities, for sure, but also on the belief that people will strive for freedom. It is also typically American in that it is designed to avoid unnecessary deaths and promote humanitarian responses.

It is not, unfortunately, entirely as the war has worked out. "Misunderestimating" the distrust of America in Muslim lands and the ability of Sunni and Shi'ia terror groups to exploit that misunderstanding in the early years of the war ended up focusing our efforts almost exclusively on only two theaters of war, and on war more than humanitarianism. (Yes, of course the humanitarianism is there, but it is not the world's focus due to the successful efforts of our enemies to refocus attention on violence.) As a result, we are seen too much as occupiers and not enough as liberators; a false perception, but much of the world's perception nonetheless.

Feith's book is showing me that there was much more careful thought going into the GWOT than the left would have us believe. There were no cowboys. But it also shows that war is not as much about well laid plans as it is about what really happens once forces are set into action -- and if we made more of that in our strategic planning, we might not be as likely to get into difficult, almost intractable situations, as we have in Iraq.

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A Recommended Saturday Read

If you're feeling particularly American this Memorial Day weekend, you might want to spend some time at DC & NYC Trip, the blog Incredible Daughter #1 is putting up for the trip she and Incredible Daughter #2 are taking of the two cities in the title.

They're in DC now and ID #1's commentary is, as usual, full of facts, great photos and emotions (she had me choked up about the 9-11 display at the Newseum in DC). Here are a few of her photos:

Just so you can see she knows how to take a good memorial picture.

This was the last frame on the destroyed camera of the only news photographer killed in the collapse of the WTC on 9/11.

And just for fun, this is Incredible Daughter #2 telling the guy at the head of the soup line at the FDR Memorial, "No soup today!" (I wonder if the memorial makes it clear that all of FDR's programs combined did little or nothing to end the depression, but they were very effective in forever ending small government in the US. Probably not.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Too Many SUVs?

The planet is getting warmer near the equator, causing huge new storms to break out.

Too many SUVs?

No, we're talking about Jupiter here. From NASA:

Jupiter's Three Red Spots
Credit NASA, ESA, M. Wong, I. de Pater (UC Berkeley), et al.

Explanation: For about 300 years Jupiter's banded atmosphere has shown a remarkable feature to telescopic viewers, a large swirling storm system known as The Great Red Spot. In 2006, another red storm system appeared, actually seen to form as smaller whitish oval-shaped storms merged and then developed the curious reddish hue. Now, Jupiter has a third red spot, again produced from a smaller whitish storm. All three are seen in this image made from data recorded on May 9 and 10 with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The spots extend above the surrounding clouds and their red color may be due to deeper material dredged up by the storms and exposed to ultraviolet light, but the exact chemical process is still unknown. For scale, the Great Red Spot has almost twice the diameter of planet Earth, making both new spots less than one Earth-diameter across. The newest red spot is on the far left (west), along the same band of clouds as the Great Red Spot and is drifting toward it. If the motion continues, the new spot will encounter the much larger storm system in August. Jupiter's recent outbreak of red spots is likely related to large scale climate change as the gas giant planet is getting warmer near the equator.

Hat-tip: Jim

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Obama: Utterly Above Reproach

Hillary Clinton seems to be caught up in the myth that the Holy Name of Obama cannot be uttered by others. After all, she was quick to apologize for saying this:
Responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it," she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race.
That quickly generated this from an Obama sycophant:
"Senator Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."
Huh? No place in this campaign? All she said was that Bobby was still running for president in June. Is it now overboard to even mention that the Mighty Mystical Candidate still has someone running against him in May?

It's a far, far stretch for the Obama campaign to create a race card out of the tragic assassination of a Boston Brahman, but somehow they have managed to do it. I would just love to see the Obamatons deal with the kind of unjustified hatred heaped on George W. Bush. Talk about a complete meltdown!

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Getting Rev. Hagge Right

Two of my favorite bloggers have corrected the Lying Left's ugly, false portrait of Pastor John Hagee.

Joshuapundit's defense can be found here, and Bookworm's here.

If you think there's any truth to the Huffpo characterization of Hagee (actually, more of an onslaught), you really must read both pieces.


Potent Energy Drinks Claim A Fatality

Every day, people come to my blog to read an old post on Red Line, which I posted after a friend got very sick after drinking the very strong chemical stew posing as an "energy drink."

Many visitors leave comments to the effect that I'm a moron for thinking the drink poses any danger at all. Perhaps they should consider this news story, which was left in a comment posted on my wife's blog:
Wellington teen dies after consuming alcohol, energy drinks

By Leon Fooksman, Luis F. Perez and Lia Lehrer
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
8:44 AM EDT, May 21, 2008

A 16-year-old Wellington student died over the weekend after attending a party where alcohol was consumed, Palm Beach County sheriff's investigators said.

Paramedics who tried to resuscitate Ashley Ramnauth on Sunday found alcohol in her system, sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.

Ramnauth was a Lake Worth High School honor roll student and the daughter of Hollywood Police Officer Hansman Ramnauth.

She "apparently made a bad decision to consume energy drinks and alcohol in combination," according to a statement from her family released Tuesday through the Palm Beach County School District. She "did not have a lot of experience with alcohol and did not have a known problem with alcohol," the family added

...In March, paramedics took four Weston schoolboys to a hospital after they became ill from drinking an "energy-boosting" liquid not meant for children, authorities said. The boys were sweating and suffering from increased heart rates and lightheadedness. They drank Redline, a combination fat-burning and energy enhancement drink marketed as a "freaky scientific" breakthrough on the Web site of the company that makes it.
There's a news clip about Ashley's death with the news article; it's worth watching.

I'll conclude with how I concluded my earlier post:
There's something definitely wrong here. [Red Line manufacturer] VPX is not taking responsibility for its product and is getting away with it. Seven-11 is not taking responsibility for the products it sells and is also getting away with it.

Please pass this along with a warning. Energy drink drinkers, think about going back to good old coffee or black tea and stay away from this junk.

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