Friday, December 31, 2004

Problems with James Robbins

James Robbins makes a few fallacies in his latest column.
First, he assumes that the truism that insurgencis don't have to win, they just have to hang on, is not true because the Iraqi insurgents are trying to win, not just to hang on.

"In Iraq, for example, the insurgents are seeking not to wait Coalition forces out but to drive them out. They are not awaiting the absence of defeat, they are pursuing victory. This is not a protracted, decades-long strategy; they want us out of there ASAP."

The problem is, of course, that driving us out is what they WANT to do, it's not what they NEED to do. Even if they continuously fail at driving us out ASAP, as long as they don't give up, they win.

Of course, if you believe that Iraq is quickly being rebuilt into a democracy and that the Iraqi army is shaping up nicely, then time is on our side.
But considering the fact that each of the past five months have been among the nine highest monthly hostile death tolls of the war (five of the top eight if you only count months since the end of major combat operations), it is difficult to conclude that the insurgency is on the wane.

Also, Robbins trots out the ol' neocon standby. Expand the war!

"We must also increase pressure on the external supporters of the insurgency."

In other words, try to overthrow Iran and Syria.

More war? This looks bad.

That is all.

Tsunami

Sorry I haven't offered any thoughts on the tsunami, but what can I really say?

It's terrible, and the affected countries need to develop the infrastructure to be able to evacuate quickly next time.

Nothing more to say, really.

That is all.

Trouble in Paradise?

This article is certainly not a good sign.
If it is accurate, then a substantial number of Kurds do not see the major Kurdish parties as representative of them - one wonders how this will affect Kurdish support of the American troops.
I think that we are in trouble.
As for the civil war that the pro-warriors happily say we've avoided? I think that what we are rather seeing is a very gradual escalation. there won't be a sudden burst of one group battling another. Rather, we wil slowly notice an uptick in violence, and increasing ethnic tones to the violence.
The civil war is going on right now. The question is, are we smart enough to jump out of the pot before the water comes to a boil?

That is all.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Georgie Anne Geyer's Column

Georgie Anne Geyer has some interesting thoughts on Iraq.
I'm not entirely certain, though, that the insurgency just has to hang on another year. More precisely, I think that the US will take quite a while to exhaust itself. Unless there is an enormous pressure to change strategies, and possibly the threat of replacing a lot of Congressmen and Senators in the next elections, Bush will persevere up to the end of his term.
It is not altogether unlikely that some of the uberhawks will get their wish to spread the war to other countries as the solution to the growing insurgency in Iraq (which is rather akin to treating dehydration with salt, sweating and diuretics.
Ultimately, if the push to war isn't stopped, I have a feeling that it will eventually be decided that we have to win by any means necessary, and at that point the mass graves will start filling up.

That is all.

A Moment of Silence

I am a big fan of Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU.
So I'm obviously sad about the passing of Law & Order star Jerry Orbach.

It especially saddens me because my father is battling metastasized prostate cancer, and it is likely that hormone treatment is nearing the end of its usefulness in keeping his PSA down.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Joe Scarborough Don't Get It

Joe Scarborough makes a typical mistake.
He believes that Shiite and kurdish support for the election means that the Shiites and Kurds share our agenda of a multicultural, democratic, liberal Iraq.
I think the reality is much more complicated.
The Shiites want to take over, the Kurds want to get in good with the Shiites in order to keep the Shiites on their side if when they decide to secede.

In general, I think a lot of people are hoping that the elections will cause something to happen. They are tired of the status quo and want to see some sort of change. I don't think that this indicates a deep desire that Iraq becomes a democracy.

That is all.

IMPORTANT CORRECTION

In a previous post, I gave the impression that Rumsfeld was a "chickenhawk," that is, that he had no military experience (other than as a civilian head of the military).
THIS IS INCORRECT.
According to Gary Leupp, who is a raving liberal with no reason to defend Rumsfeld, "Rumsfeld is an ex-Navy officer who remained in the reserves until he joined the Gerald Ford administration (1975-7) as the youngest-ever Secretary of Defense."
I stand corrected. Rumsfeld has served in the military.
I apologize if anyone's opinion of Rumsfeld was negatively influenced by my mistake.

That is all.

Thoughts on Yushchenko

The pro-Yakunovich forces obviously believe that the fix was in.
The pro-Yushchenkoites believe that democracy has triumphed.
Kerry and Gore wish that they had more orange revolutionaries on their side.
Some eastern Russian-speaking Ukrainians may decide that Ukraine doesn't represent them and attempt to secede.
Or they may just accept the results like the blue states have.
Putin is probably going to remember this for a long time.
Me? I don't know who was correct, whether this election was stolen or the previous one was, and I don't intend to get outraged over either one.

That is all.

Contra Ledeen

Guest blogger Ross Douthat at Andrew Sullivan's blog, scores some points, in my humble opinion, against Michael "Creative Destruction" Ledeen.

That is all.

Thoughts on Rumsfeld

Christopher Preble has an interesting article about Donald Rumsfeld.
I think he makes a good point that adding more troops to Iraq could cause more problems. On the other hand, occupying Iraq without enough troops causes other problems.
The thing that Rumsfeld did wrong, in my opinion, was in miscalculating the number of troops that would be required for the dramatic transformation he desired. I think that at least half a million troops, and probably many more, would be required in order to create a successful non-totalitarian sort of Iraqi government. On the other hand, so many troops would provide a lot of targets and might mean that our casualties would be twice as high as they are now.
My issue has never been that Rumsfeld should have sent more troops as much as it has been that realizing what would be required might have meant that he would have rethought attacking Iraq, or at least set more realistic goals which could have been achieved with the number of troops that we had on the ground.
Whether he was thinking wishfully or whether he deliberately lowballed the estimate because he wanted the war and thought he could deal with the fallout later, I don't know.
Of course, neocon morons (and I'm being kind here, I'm assuming stupidity rather than malevolence) like Newt Gingrich still insist that Rumsfeld's plans were fine, and that if we'd turned over Iraq to "Iraqis" (which is a code word for Ahmad Chalabi) we'd have a greatly reduced presence by now.
My feeling is that no amount of evidence could convince the neocons (with a few possible exceptions) that democratizing Iraq is impossible. They can always find some excuse; something done wrong that if done right would have allowed democratization to proceed quickly.
So the goal then, isn't to convince them, it is to convince others to stop listening to them and to convince them to instead marginalize them.

That is all.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Iraq Plan for the Sunnis

Listening to Chuck Krauthammer and, I think, Bill Sammon from the Washington Times on Fox News today, I got an ominous sense that the Sunni Arabs had better watch out.

When talking about the possibility of set-asides for the Sunni Arabs, they basically said that the Sunni Arabs will play our game or get shafted when the new government is elected.

I have a feeling that this will strengthen the hand of those Sunni Arabs who fear that democracy will bring about Shiite dominance. To the extent that Sunnis are afraid of an election, it is because they fear that the Shiites will avenge themselves on them rather than due to a hatred of the democratic process and an antipathy toward freedom. Not that some people don't want to amass power for themselves, but I doubt that they are afraid that a wonderful free society will emerge.

In any case, from the tone that Krauthammer took, I am afraid that if the elections don't work out well for the Sunnis that we are looking at a protracted war with them - and ultimately I think that there may be a move toward heavy oppresssion of them.

Also, if the Sunnis (Sunni Arabs, I mean) get shafted, that may well cause the Kurds to become more insistent on a separate state - not because they love the Sunni Arabs and wouldn't help to put them down themselves - but because they are afraid that, as minorities themselves, they will be overwhelmed by the Shiite Arabs after the Sunni Arabs are dealt with.

I think that a civil war looks more likely all the time, assuming it isn't already going on.

That is all.

What Rumsfeld Is and Isn't to Blame for

Personally, I'm not particularly bothered with Rumsfeld's use of a machine to sign letters to the family of dead soldiers, nor necessarily by the apparent failure to provide enough armor (which may or may not be the case).

In the first case, this is what often happens, it may symbolically show a lack of concern for the troops, but (a) it has little practical effect, and (b) and it may become necessary if we wind up losing a lot of people in the war quicker than we are now.

In the second case, if we are low on armor (according to Hack Kelly, the armor situation isn't as grave as we have been told (although it should be noted that in the article, he only refers to the 278th Regimental Combat Team of the Tennessee Army National Guard's vehicles, and ol' Hack Kelly has been known for saying things that are gross misinterpretations of the situation.
A few more examples, and here.))
this could just be a normal snafu or a miscalculation as to the enemy we would face.

I don't expect Rumsfeld to be prescient or to think of all possible scenarios. Nor should he micromanage everything or be put up as responsible for everything that goes wrong in Iraq; his job isn't managing every detail, it is managing the war as a whole.

The problem is that he got that wrong.

What I do fault him for is ignoring the generals, ignoring anyone who didn't trust Chalabi, and going in with too few troops and expecting the Iraqis to greet us with open arms and to eagerly accept us remaking the society as we see fit.

They didn't.

Even the relatively-friendly Shiites have stood up against us; the reason for these elections rather than sham caucuses where Chalabi was installed is because the Shiites threatened to revolt.

Everyone who knew anything about the region or who was actually in the active part of the military (i.e. not the civilian leadership) thought that Rumsfeld had a bad plan.

That is the problem. Rumsfeld is arrogant, didn't listen to anyone, and went in with a flawed war plan.

Rumsfeld got the war as a whole wrong. Remembering that is more important than nitpicking over details he got wrong.

That is all.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Iraq Today

A quick perusal of the statistics suggests that December is going about the same as October (so far, same number of deaths (67) as in October, but fewer hostile deaths (52 in December v. 58 in Otober).
The violence seems to have died down a little other than the December 21 attack, but that may be mainly because the number of soldiers killed was overestimated (19, when in reality it was 15), so the 4 deaths on December 23 don't seem to count.

This doesn't necessarily mean much. Daily violence tends to fluctuate. This doesn't necessarily signal a long-term trend. There have been plenty of breaks in the violence (and plenty of spikes, for that matter), but they have neither indicated a sudden outbreak of prolonged massive violence (during November 2003, I initially thought that the violence would ramp up to 100 fatalities a month permanently) nor the breaking of the insurgency.

On the other hand, the overall trend in deaths has been upwards.

Stay tuned.

That is all.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

No real message here - just a wish for a merry Christmas from the ol' Glaivester.

That is all.

Friday, December 24, 2004

What is Freedom?

In his most recent column, Justin Raimondo makes a good point;
Whether or not you agree with his particular evaluations of which countries are free and which aren't, it is true that this is a very subjective measure.
Which is more free, a country where 60% of one's income is paid in taxes, but where there is a right to free speech, or one in which criticizing the government carries fines and jail terms, but where taxes never exceed 15%?
People tend to view political rights as more important than economic ones; and as long as a government is democratically elected, violations of privacy are usually overlooked, it seems to me.
Thoughts?

That is all.

I love Macs

A non-political post.
I use a Mac G4 with OS 10.2.8 and 1024 MB of RAM. It has ~ 30GB of memory.
I have an HP all-in-one color printer/scanner/photocopier, a 256 MB memorex memory stick, a USB hub, and I'm probably getting an external hard drive (120GB) for Christmas.

Why do I relate this?
Because I am lucky and happy.

That is all.

Mike Gallagher is a Grade-A Jackass

I've been watching Hannity & Colmes and the guest host for Hannity, Mike Gallagher, is a grade-A jackass.
He basically says that anyone criticizing Bush is hurting the troops, and then butt-kisses Don Rumsfeld (not personally, Rummy wasn't a guest, but he was praisin' him to high heaven), and also agrees with Newt Gingrich's assessment that the problem in the war wasn't that Rumsfeld planned it badly, but that we didn't turn it over to Iraqis (i.e. give it to Chalabi) back in Summer 2003.

That is all.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Chuck Baldwin Mention

Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party Vice-Presidential candidate, gets mentioned by Sully.

That is all.

Unintended Consequences

This immutable law, perhaps an outgrowth of the Heisenberg uncertainty principal, strikes at US efforts towards Iran.

That is all.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Raimondo v. Auster

Lawrence Auster and
Justin Raimondo are duking it out as representatives of the "pro-war traditionalist" (i.e. pro-war but not neocon) and the "antiwar right."

I'm torn here. On the war, I'm more similar to Raimondo than to Auster, especially after the latter declared any statement that Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to result in banning a person from making comments.
(This caused me to remove View From the Right (VFR) from my links list).
(Auster's comments section has since been shut down by a massive spam attack anyway).

I like Mr. Auster in general, though, and have often had productive discussions with him on VFR.

I also have to say that I disagree with Raimondo's criticizing Auster for being "racialist." This seems to me to be too similar to smears on Steve Sailer, and seems based on the idea that there can be no significant differences between races (other than appearance), an idea which I think is leftist, and ridiculous.

Arcane Paladin (Link on left) sent me the link to a photo that had previously been on FrontPagemag's front page (FPM puts a photo reference to their top article on the front page each day, but they don't archive them as far as I can tell). Mr. Auster initially referenced this photo in his article, although he deleted the reference the next day when the photo was replaced on FPM.
What surprised me, though, was Mr. Auster's description of Raimondo's appearance as "malevolent" in the photo.

Actually, I think he looks kinda dopey in the photo, bu certanly not "malevolent." The only picture of Raimondo I have ever seen that looks malevolent (and non-dopey) is the picture on his web column.

That is all.

FREE MARTHA!!!!

An excellent column by Mr. Paul Craig Roberts on VDARE.
This one deals with the possibility that the US is a little too conviction-happy.
And you thought that VDARE was only interested in immigration issues!

That is all.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Steve Vincent

This National Review article sounds vaguely Communist in the Newspeak it uses.
This is further reinforced when one remembers that since the invasion, Steve Vincent has lauded the Iraqi Communist Party as a giant boon to democracy and in one article, when saying that the insurgents should be referred to as "fascists" (a theme repeated in the linked piece) freely admitted that he was paralleling Commie propaganda.
But that's okay, he said, because for all their faults, the Commies could "tell a brownshirt when they see one" or somethign to that effect.
Vincent isn't on my hate-o-meter yet, like Jack the Hack Kelly. But I also don't really trust the way he portrays things.

That is all.

The Draft? (Yet Again).

Michael Whitney predicts that there will be a draft, and that it will be precipitated by a massive attack on US soil.
It's not entirely clear whether he just thinks there will be one or if he suspects that the Bush administration will arrange for one (or perhaps will tacitly let it occur, as many conspiracy theorists say FDR did with Pearl Harbor) in order to get us to send more troops to the Middle East.
I have a feeling that before we have a draft, the topic of tactical nukes would come up - e.g., if we didn't have enough troops to take, say, Teheran, then we'd just level it with nukes with everyone inside.
Given an option between the draft and genocide, I'd say that genocide would be more likely to win.

That is all.

Hack Kelly Rides Again

Hack Kelly, as I call him, once again blames the CIA for everything and Rumsfeld for virtually nothing.
According to Mr. Kelly, it's the CIA's fault that the Department of Defense insisted on trusting Ahmed Chalabi.

He also dismisses the idea that Rumsfeld should have known that we needed more troops, because we defeated Saddam easily with the troops we had, and there is no way that we could have known that we would be facing a protracted guerilla war.

Oh, come on. It was widely predicted that we would need 500,000+ troops to occupy the country after we had defeated Saddam, and James Fallows reported how Rumsfeld bascially shut down all post-war planning because he wante to install Chalabi.

Jack Kelly is either an idiot or a liar. And I don't think he's an idiot.

But then, those who read the Glaivester blog already know that, don't we?

That is all.

Hmmm....

Very little to report right now. Just getting ready to go home for Christmas. I hope to get my Masters in January (Biochemistry).

That is all.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Liv Tyler a Mom

For some reason, this depresses me to no end.
Perhaps, being only a little more than a year younger than Ms. Tyler, I am starting to feel as if I should be further along in my life than I am.

Step One: Go out on an actual date with a girl.
Step Two: Trick her into marrying me.
Step Three: Get her pregnant.
Step Four: Make certain that she and the baby survive long enough so she can give birth to it.

Okay, so first I need to do step one....

That is all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Back to Iraq

According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, this month so far there have been 45 deaths of soldiers in Iraq, 42 American, 3 Polish, 34 hostile (all American), 11 non-hostile (8 American, 3 Polish).
According to the weekly stats for wounded, 180 Americans have been wounded in hostile incidents and nbot returned to duty within 72 hours, and 112 have been wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours, although the numbers are much lower for the week of Dec. 8-14 than for Dec. 1-7.
Some might say that the fighting is dying down, as this is lower than last month. But a perusal of the past year shows that if this trend continues, this will be the third most deadly month for the coalition for this year, and the fourth most deadly if you only count hostile-fire deaths.
Another statistic to look at: with the exception of March, every month in 2004 so far has had more coalition soldiers die (either total or just due to hostile fire) than the corresponding month in 2003 [admittedly, January and February are trivial cases, as there was no war in Jan '03 or Feb '03]. December '03 so far has passed December '04 in hostile deaths (34 v. 32), but not yet in total deaths (45 v. 48). But we're only hlaf-way through the month.
Moire cheerfulness: I think that over the course of 2005, there will be at least 4 months with more than 100 hostile deaths.

That is all.

Heroic Roy

Occasionally when it's on HBO, I watch pieces of Angels in America. I'm curious about what all the fuss is about.
I've seen much of the first half, and have seen the first two-thirds of the second half.
I don't know what people will think of this, but I have to admit that I find Roy Cohn as portrayed in this movie to be the most heroic character.
He's the only one who isn't either so affected that it induces nausea (Belize) or who doesn't feel that he is somehow noble when he isn't. Louis makes everything about him. The Mormon guy doesn't seem to care that he has abandoned his wife or that Louis has abandoned his sick friend. Yet both som ehow think that they are founts of wisdom and noble.
The prophet character also strikes me as too self-righteous.
Roy Cohn is a little s**t, but he knows he's a little s**t and doesn't pretend otherwise.
Moreover, he's somehow haunted by Ethel Rosenberg (the one who gave nuclear secrets to the Soviets), with the implication that somehow he should feel guilty for helping to put a Commie traitor to death. More power to him, I say.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Ambler vs. Mr. Dees

Interesting article about Morris Dees from Kevin Michael Grace.

That is all.

Make Mine Babylon 5

This previous post also reminds me of another problem with Roddenberry, which is that he was very, very intolerant of religion.
One good thing about Babylon 5, which in its time was probably the biggest non-Trek space show to date, was that despite ts creator, J. Michael Straczynski's atheism, it tended to portray religion very neutrally; the show didn't heavy-handedly try to tell us who was right and wrong, we had to decide for ourselves. In some ways, this is like the real world, where ultimately everyone has to weigh the evidence for themselves in determining what they believe.
Babylon 5 also had main characters who were explicitly Jewish (Ivanova), Catholic (Sinclair), ex-Catholic (Garibaldi), and had a Baptist preacher in a guest role in the episode And the Rock Cried out, No Hiding Place.

That is all.

Protocols of the Elders of Ferenginar

Over at Gene Expression Scifi, a discussion on whether or not the Ferengi were designed to fit into the antisemitic stereotype of a Jew.
Gene Roddenberry definitely hated capitalism, as the only major race that was in any way capitalistic was the Ferengi, who were at best good only because they overcame their innate nature and who we are supposed to believe improved their society greatly when toward the end of Deep Space 9 they started becoming more Federation-Like (i.e. more socialistic).
Obviously, some comparisons aren't helpful in determining if Jews in particular were a target of Roddenberry. While the portrayal of the Ferengi as greedy little pigs was also a stereotype of Jewish people, it is far too unspecific; lots of people are greedy, and there's no reason why portraying a group of people as greedy should have anything to do with comparing them to the stereotypes of otehr groups.
On the other hand, if you read the comments section on the blog, there are a lot of parallels between the Ferengi and between characteristics that were either common among Jewish people or at least which were often unfairly and maliciously attributed to them.
Of course, even if the Ferengi were designed based on Jewish stereotypes, it might be because Roddenberry thought the stereotypes, if separated from an actual people, were fun to work with.

That is all.

Steve Vincent Almost Gets It

According to Steve Vincent on NRO, the reason that the US hasn't been greeted as warmly by Iraqis as the neocons had predicted (apparently he isn't in denial as some are) is that they are embarrassed that someone else had to liberte them.

Personall,y I think that a much more likely explanation is that they didn't mind us getting rid of Saddam but don't particularly like having foreigners occupying their country or running their lives. It's not that the yare ashamed of us "liberating" them, but that they don't like being conquered. Perhaps after getting rid of Saddam we should have left.

That is all.

An Iraqi Blogger on the Elections

Riverbend is making essentially the same point I made about Chalabi - he is being put in a position where he is certain to be elected - unless the Shiites boycott the entire Shiite list.

Interestingly enough, Ali over at Iraq the Model, which is currently disputing Riverbend about how much the Iraqi public supports the January elections, has the same view of Chalabi that I do:
"Chalabi was not really pro-American because he was not pro-Iraqi in the first place. He was just pro-Chalabi."

That is all.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Assassination Attempt on Allawi

FrontPageMag has an article on an assassination attempt on Iyad Allawi.

Nowhere, of course, is there any indication that this may indicate potential problems between the Kurds and the Arabs in Iraq in the future. Oh, no, Iraqis break themselves down into only to groups: jihadists and pro-freedomists.

That is all.

Krauthammer Misses the Point

In his latest column, Charles Krauthammer apparently misses the point about Afghanistan.
He criticizes those who note the strong opium poppy trade for expecting miracles, and points out that all the flaws that people have pointed out about our occupation of Afghanistan and its elections ignore the fact that overall we've done pretty well there.

I won't argue that point, but the problem is that while I think we did well in Afghanistan, what we have done falls far short of the neocon goal of implanting democracy and in fact we succeeded largely in Afghanistna because we tried not to disrupt the system there that much.
The elections were rigged and our puppet Hamid Karzai was elected. He doesn't control most of the country. The biggest industry is the poppy trade (as in heroin and opium). Krauthammer dismisses these points by saying (I'm paraphrasing): Yes, and the Sun rises in the East. This has always been true and we aren't going to change it, at least not quickly. He also asks what could Bush have done to make this better, pointing out that a large occupation force, particularly one that destroyed the opium crop, would cause a revolt.
All true, but that's not the point. The point isn't that Bush could have done better or that leaving a larger footprint would have democratized them quicker or that the Afghanis changes overnight. The point is that while Bush may have done the best that anyone could do in Afghanistan, the best that can be done is still pretty shabby and we shouldn't make it out to be something that it is not.

In other words, what actually was accomplished in Afghanistan was fairly decent, so let's not be greedy and try to claim that we did more than we actually did. If I were to promise to eat 100 donuts and I could only stuff myself with 12, I bear no blame for not being able to eat the 100. But I do bear the blame of making the promise in the first place. Moreover, it would be unseemly of me to reason that becuae I ate as many as I could eat, I had fulfilled my promise, and to pretend that I had fulfilled it.

In actuality, the fact that what we accomplished in Afghanistan was as good as van be reasonably expected should be a warning sign that we should be cautious about what we promise.

That is all.

Yet More on Iraq

Nicholas Kristof on the Willingness of the Coalition.

That is all.

Elections, Elections

Interesting thoughts from Antiwar.com about American strategy for 2005.

One thing I am beginning to realize - as I understand it, the Iraqi elections will be based on the idea that people vote for party lists and the parties put in power people from those lists form the top down based on their percentage of the vote.

For example, if there are 100 open seats and a party gets 27% of the vote, its first 27 members get put in power.

PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG.

Isn't this a good way to force the Iraqis to accept our choices for their leaders? I mean, just make certain that Ahmad Chalabi is at the top of a popular list, and they'll have to essentially vote for him in order to vote for others.

I remember David Frum (read the last paragraph) asking why people were so opposed to giving Ahamd Chalabi a chance to run for office, as if there was no attempt to install him, he just wanted his fair shake, and those evil CIAers and State Departmenters wanted to deny the Iraqis the attempt to vote for him. Richard Perle, who co-wrote "An End to Evil" with Frum, also claimed that he had no desire to anoint Chalabi, although his overstatement of Iraqi support for Chalabi would tend to suggest otherwise (i.e. he wanted Chalabi anointed with the pretense that the Iraqis were clamoring for him).

But in reality it appears that the elections may be rigged so that he will have to get elected to office.

Which of course, is what David Frum and Richard Perle has basically desired all along, despite playing coy. Although I can't find it now, I remember reading an article where Mr. Perle suggested that conquering Iraq would help the Israeli-Palestinain situation because the political faction he and his political bedfellows were behind (i.e., Chalabi's) was very Israel-friendly. The unspoken assumption was that Chalabi would be put in power in Iraq, although Perle again denied an "anointing," that Chalabi would just get a chance to run but Perle would vote for him "if I were an Iraqi."

By the way, my take on Chalabi? Same as Fred Kaplan's. He's not working for Israel, or Iran, or the US, or the Iraqi people. Ahmad Chalabi's working for one person. Ahmad Chalabi.

That is all.

Scott Ritter and Oil-for-Food

Yet another article on Oil-for-Food, this time by Scott Ritter, the man whom Saddam Hussein supposedly paid off to tell the truth about WMDs.
(Personally, all of those people who accused Mr. Ritter - I'd like to see if Ahmad Chalabi was paying anyone off).

That is all.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Quotes to think about

"Here's a hint for sellers (and buyers) of Canadian disguises for American travellers abroad: you should probably look for a shirt that doesn't spell "O Canada" like it was an Irish surname, you retards." -Colby Cosh
(To see the shirt, look here).

"[When asked why polygamy isn't as much a civil right as gay marriage is] Gay activists typically answer by saying that marriage by definition is between two people... The real response, however, has been, in effect, that only crazy right wing fundamentalist heterosexual rural Mormon white people want to practice polygamy, and we all know that civil rights don't apply to them." - Steve Sailer

That is all.

Good News From Iraq?

The Toronto Star weighs in on how good it sees the news from Iraq as being.

That is all.

Good Article by Scott McConnell

Scott McConnell points out the obvious:
Bush doesn't fire based on competence. Rumsfeld was far more wrong on Iraq than the State Department and the CIA, so him staying on while Powell left and he CIA is purged proves that the President isn't firing people based on competence.
Power-driven neocon elites may claim and their fans in the non-elite world ("useful idiots" is, I fear, too impolite a term) may truly believe that the CIA is being purged because it is not doing its job and that the only people who think that the president is merely crushing it to his will are liberals:

"Critics of the Bush Administration will undoubtedly portray the current efforts to reform the CIA as a ham-fisted attempt by the White House to crush the Agency's independence and make the body totally subservient to the Administration's policy making." -Art Chrenkoff

But in reality it takes either a large degree of dishonesty or denial (For the elites I think the former, for the non-elite rank-and-file, I think it is the latter) to assert that this is so.

That is all.

Bush Retains Mineta

Norman Mineta has been asked to stay by El Presidente.

As Steve Sailer has pointed out, he is useless because he insists on not giving extra attention to people of Arab descent when checking passengers for security reasons. Instead, he goes after geriatric veterans.

And that's not counting the fact that he has helped to delay and obstruct the armed pilot's program that even liberals like Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer supported.

Of course, Bush's mindless useful idiots will keep cheering him on, because they are total idiots devoted to his cult of personality.

(I am not here referring to all Bush supporters, just to those who are unwilling to ever see him in a bad light).

I say, to Hell with them.

That is all.

Friday, December 10, 2004

New Testament Chanukah

John 10:22-23 (New American Standard) At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.

The Feast of Dedication was Chanukah. So Chanukah is mentioned in the New Testament. I mention this because sometimes the anti-Christmas attitude tht sometimes seems to permeate our public space has cuased some peopel to resent any holiday that seems to be a competitor to Christmas.

The point is that Chanukah is a traditional holiday with a meaningful history behind it, and it predates the celebration of Christmas, so its celebration should not be thought of as simply an attempt to create an "alternate Christmas" or as an interloper.

Whether or not one sees the creation of artificial alternatives such as Kwanzaa as legitimate (of course, at one point Christmas was an artificial alternative to Saturnalia), the point is that Chanukah is an established holiday with a long tradition and should be analyzed as such.

That is all.

The Meaning of Chanukah

Dave Kopel offers some interesting insights about Chanukah and armed self-defense.

That is all.

Thoughts on Oil-for-Food

Politics makes strange bedfellows. I think that this comes in part from our tendency to take whatever issue is most important to us and to judge everything else by how it affects that issue.

Hence, Jude Wanniski defends the UN from the oil-for-food scandal charges, primarily, I think, because if the UN is innocent it puts the onus on the US for the damages caused by the sanctions; that is, if corruption didn't cause the failrues of the program, then the balme lies squarely with the sanctions.

While much of what he says is correct, and while the sanctions are still to blame for a lot of Iraqi deaths even if the il-for-food program would have prevented all deaths from the sanctions if administered properly (because there was no oil-for-food program unti l996, so there were about five years of sanctions without a relief program in place), I still think that there has been a lot of corruption going on. If you feel, as I do, that the sanctions were unnecessary, then some of the blame is on the US for imposing them. Nonetheless, anyone who embezzled money from the program is guilty of stealing from the Iraqis.

That is all.

Moreover, even if the program was intended only to help the Kurds the fact is that if it had been administered less corruptly, it would have been more effective for the other groups in Iraq as well - even if the US never intended for the Arabs to be helped, the program could have been used to help the Arabs, and the US would have been relying on UN corruption as the weapon with which to screw the Arabs. And it is not at all clear to me that the US intended to screw the Arabs.

In other words, if the UN had been less corrupt, it would not have mattered the US's intentions, it would have been able to have overcome them in order to assist the Arabs in Iraq, or more importantly, to overcome the US/UK demand for sanctions.

In short, this scandal needs to be investigated and I hold no illusions that the UN is a wonderful pro-humanitarian organization. I don't trust the US government (or any government), and the UN is a possible brake on the more imperialist designs of US foreign policy, but it has its own imperialist designs and would not be a reliable ally for anti-Iraq war conservatives like myself. So I am in no mood to defend it, particularly since I don't think the UN deserves to be defended.

What a Bum Rush

Back when I was in high school, I liked Rush Limbaugh.
Now I tend to look a thm as mostly a neocon stooge. Sure, he occasionally criticizes Bush, but unlike, say, Michael Savage, he never really excoriates him as a non-conservative or else exucses all of his wrongs by assuming that Bush is simply trying to "play nice" with the Democrats. In other words, Limbaugh sees Bush as naive about his ability to get along with the Democrats rather than, say considering the possibility that Bush really believes in amnesty for illegal aliens.

Bob Wallace has some thoughts about this on the LewRockwell Blog.

That is all.

More on Mikey

I have several thoughts about Ahmed Chalabi to get off my chest, but don't have time to do so right now.
However, let me state that in Michael Rubin's article that I referenced in my last post, I get the impression that his anger at Allawi is based primarily on the fact that he isn't Ahmed Chalabi, whom Rubin wanted in the post.
Most of the arguments he makes about Allawi's lack of support seem to me to be disingenuous, as Ahmed Chalabi doesn't enjoy broad support either (although Rubin has always averred, with no evidence, that the Shiites see him as their standard-bearer), and many of the actions taken by Allawi that Rubin feels lost him support (going after Sadr, "ordering" US troops into Fallujah) seem to be ones that anyone in Allawi's position would have been forced to do by the US. I'm not certain how he feels a Chalabi administration would have been better, and have a sneaking suspicion that if Chalabi had been put into office instead of Allawi and had done exactly the same things, Rubin would have praised him for his "bravery" and would not have used Chalabi's "ordering" of troops into Fallujah as evidence of his commitment to defeating terror. (As it goes, Rubin used scare quotes around the word "order," thus as much as admitting that Allawi was a puppet - had his boy been in Iraq, he would almost certainly not have done so).
Of course, perhaps Mikey Rubin believes the mythos that Chalabi had a great Iraqi army behind him that could have taken care of Sadr and Fallujah for us.

In any case, I find it hard to take lil' Mikey seriously.

That is all.

Spoke too Soon

I thought Michael Rubin was finished at NRO, but I was wrong. Here is his latest.

That is all.

The Problem with the UN

The Problem with the UN, to the extent that it is anything more than a forum for discussion, is that (a) it expects countries with conflicting national interested to cooperate, and (b) it expects nations to surrender large portions of their sovereignty to an organization that consists of people who do not share a common culture, common goals, or a common political system. In short, it is an attempt to establish world government.

Idiots in the conservative movement are convinced that the only problem is the part about a common political system, or more specifically, that not all countries are like us. Cal Thomas approvingly cites a suggestion that we leave the UN and create a second UN-like organizations that only lets democracies join.

The problems with this are legion: (a) it will still destroy sovereignty, (b) certain non-democracies like China or semi-democracies like Russia would not get to join in, which they would see as provocation and which would hurt our relations with these countries (new Cold War, anyone?) (c) It could make the "new UN" just a fig leaf for the powerful countries in the world to trample over non-member countries with the excuse that those countries are not democratic enough.

I'm more in line with what Michael Reagan appears to be suggesting: end the UN and don't replace it.

That is all.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Religious Intermarriage

Jonathan Tobin has an interesting article about the attempt to assimilate Chanukah into the American tradition.

I think there is a point there, in that Chanukah is ultimately the celebration of non-assimilation of Jews into Gentile cultures. (I am less concenred with assimilating Jews than I am with assimilating other minority groups, because, frankly, unassimilated Jewish culture - at least the Ashkenazi kind - integrates much better into the US culture than most third-world cultures do. Also, to be Frank, assimilating holidays is not the kind aof assimilation that is important in terms of interation into American culture).

Turning Chanukah into the "Jewish Christmas" does tend to detract from the message of the holiday.

Of course, as long as Jews intermarry with non-Jews, such hybrids as "Chrismukkah" will continue to exist.

Not that people shouldn't have the right to marry whomever they wish, but I think that the concern of many American Jews that they will be wiped out through intermarriage is a valid one.

That is all.

Yet More on the Ukraine

I should say this right now:
I don't have a horse in the Ukrainian race. Yushchenko, Yakunovich, or Yushchunkovich, it's all the same to me.
What irritates me is hte hypocrisy of those who clamor that fraud MUST have happened, becasue it seems to me that they are less interested in the real results than in making certain that the election turns out how they want it to.
Ron Paul has pointed out how hypocritical it is for hte US to decry Russian influence in the elections.
Moreover, people like Sully who refer to "Yushchenko's electoral victory" (because they are certain that if all the votes were counted properly, their guy would have won) are just the mirror images of the Michael Moore-crackpots who think that the 2004 US Presidential election was stolen.
Why should we trust the election results in our country, but trust the exit polls in other countries?
Thre has been a suggestion that the Ukraine split in two. This last election did show a very strong divide betwen eastern and western Ukraine, with each candidate essentially dominating one continguous half of the country (Yush in the west, Yaku in the east). This may or may not be an indication of a need to separate, because after all, the US has a similar geographic division (although not as wide a margin between states - no candidate got >90% in any state, although the District of Columbia came close - and the divisions on the issues were presumably of more importance to most people in the Ukraine, seeing as they have a lot more to worry about than we do in the US). I suppose it depends on whether the difference is merely political or whether it represents a larger unbridgeable cultural divide that makes coexistence in the same country impossible (or at least unattractive).

Oh well, I'll analyze it more later.

That is all.

Forever Tintin, Forever Young

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has discovered why Tintin, the comic-book hero, seemed never to age.

That is all.

New prediction

Checked Antiwar.com's Casualty page, and sure enough, the number of hostile casualties for American troops surpassed 1000 a few days ago (now it is 1003). I predicted earlier that by early September of 2005 we would hit the 2000th American soldier killed in Iraq. Now I predict that by January 1, 2006, we will hit 2000 hostile American fatalities.

That is all.

Over the Top

I'm anti-war in Iraq and skeptical of Bush's motives, but this cartoon has fallen into the territory of Stupid-land.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Sully.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Morris Dees

Steve Sailer has a blogpost about Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that reminds me of an anecdote about my own experience at Colby College (related to Dees, although I didn't ever talk to him personally).

Back in 2001 when I was an undergraduate at Colby College, we had Dinesh D'Souza to speak around late April early May, and the leftists were up in arms, using the all-campus mailing function to email everyone with letter after letter berating him and implying if not outright stating that people like D'Souza should not be invited to campus, and asking why we spent $3000 to invite him.
Finally, I got fed up and posted my own email, which asked why we had spent $3000 to invtie Morris Dees to campus earlier that year (January, maybe early February); while I didn't mention D'Souza or this brouhaha at all, I paralleled my letter to the anit-D'Souza ones, including Alexander Cockburn's take on him (I had been introduced to Mr. Cockburn through antiwar.com - I am one of the people who got interested in - and even donated to - the website back when the Balkans were the big issue they dealt with).
I would have used Danny Glover as my example instead (we had invited him for $30,000, and more recently), as he cost ten times as much as Dees or D'Souza, but a quick internet search brought me to the conclusion that he was a well-meaning nice guy (if often incorrect), so I saw no reason to attack him.

That is all.

Jack "The Hack" Kelly is at it Again

Jack "The Hack" Kelly is back with another great idea:
Let's encourage enlistment by making only honorably discharged veterans eligible for elective office.
Question: would this apply to jobs like Secretary of Defense of Vice President, and would it be made retroactive?
He also suggests that college aid and loans be made contingent upon military service, something that I have warned is coming.

That is all.

Sailer on Red and Blue

By now, many of my regular readers have probably already read the article by Steve Sailer on the white fertility rate in a state correlating with Bush's share of the vote (I will try to do a similar test on Peroutka when I get the chance).

The last paragraph:

"Nobody noticed that the famous blue-red gap was a white baby gap because the subject of white fertility is considered disreputable. But I believe the truth is better for us than ignorance, lies, or wishful thinking. At least, it’s certainly more interesting."

Of course, this comment enrages Garance Franke-Ruta at the American Prospect, because of the two rules: (1) the truth must of course not involve race in any way as a factor, and (2) is race is a factor, see rule (1).

What's really amazing is how many people seem to be shooting the messenger (see the comments thread). When confronted with the fact that a lot of white people behave as if they would rather get away from minorities, rather than accuse said white people of racism, a lot of liberals accuse the person noticing the trend of racism. Transferrence, anyone?

Not that one can't disagree with Steve Sailer's conclusions, but if there were less heat and more light, it would be helpful. Can't someone try to refute the points rather than just argue how eeeeeeeeeevvvil Sailer is for raising them?

That is all.

Concern for Christians

Vandalism in Iraq against Christian churches.

That is all.

Chrenkoff is Upset

Apparently not everyone is convinced that the elections in Iraq in January will be legitimate.
Arthur Chrenkoff is very upset that anyone would question the US's goodwill and commitment to elections that didn't produce a result that we would consider favorable.

How dare anyone question our goodwill. Have they not all read the good news?

That is all.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Paul Craig Roberts on War

Paul Craig Roberts has a piece on the costs of the Iraq War:

See it here, here, or here.

That is all.

Calling Dr. House

Just saw my first full episode of House, starring Hugh Laurie.
I liked it.

That is all.

Andy, Andy, Andy

Sully's take on Buchanan's take on the Ukraine situation is rather - biased.

"[Buchanan]'s an economic leftist with social fascist tendencies. Hence his preference for Putin's power-grab over Yushchenko's electoral victory."

Uh - excuse me, but Yakunovich won the election. Not everyone believes that he won fraudulently (not that there was no fraud in the election, just that there is no reason to assume that it all went one way or that if all the fraud were eliminated that Yushchenko would have necessarily won.

Buchanan prefers that the US stay out of the Ukraine situation. I agree.

That is all.

A Tale of Two Rubins

Trudy Rubin discusses the failure of the Department of Defense in Iraq War planning. An interesting article which provides some measure of refutation to those who claim that Rumsfeld had a post-war plan, after all, because installing the Iraqi National Congress as the government and Chalabi as the President/Prime Minister/What-Have-You counts asa post-war plan.
Michael Rubin, on the other hand, appears convinced that the Shiites absolutely love Ahmad Chalabi, and that a major reason they might not trust the US is because we targeted him for investigation.

Even National Review appears tired of this, as he hasn't written anything for them in 3 and 1/2 months.

That is all.

Monday, December 06, 2004

November in Iraq

According to the Iraq Coalition Casualties website, 140 coalition soldiers were killed in November. 136 were US, 4 were UK, 129 were killed inhostile action, 11 were killed in accidents, etc.
1193 Americans were wounded in hostile action, with non-American and non-hostile wounding information unavailable.

Currently, 16 coalition soldiers have died this month, 14 hostile deaths, 2 non-hostile. Woundd numbers are not yet available.

That is all.

Bad Arguments

I'm sick of people who argue that George W. Bush couldn't have lied about WMDs, because why would he commit political suicide by making claims that he would have known would be disproven?

Lawrence Auster of VFR became so upset at people arguing that Bush lied that he threatened to ban those who made such comments from his website VFR. As a result I decided to delink VFR from my links column.

The problem with the argument is that Bush won even without discovering the WMDs. Therefore, to argue that being wrong about the WMDs would be politically devastating is simply devastatingly incorrect.

Did Bush lie? I don't know, but I don't think he really cared whether or not the charges of WMD were true. He wanted to conquer Iraq and was willing to embrace anything that would appear to justify the attack.

That is all.

Friendly Fire?

Interesting new news about Pat Tillman.

That is all.

NRO Hypocrisy

One has to wonder what the editors at National Review Online would say if the Democrats had succeeded in forcing another vote in the US because of charges of election fraud.

Or what they would say if Russia were interfering in Mexican elections and forcing another vote because someone who was too friendly to the US was elected.

That is all.

The Real Ann Coulter

While Ann Coulter has some good points about the drug legalization issue (I'm for federalism in drug laws myself), the last two paragraphs are confirmation of what an evil bitch she is, and of how petty and mean her opinions can be.
In other words, she basically said that she was going to write articles against drug legalization, and turn from being uninterested to being virulently opposed to it in order to spite the Libertarian Party for not letting her in. Note she isn't just trying to spite the party - she is actually taking sides on an issue or at least prioritizing that issue's importance on the basis of a little hissy fit that she was snubbed by the Connecticut LP.
Why does anyone take her seriously?

Want to read thoughts by a woman who is everything Coulter's fans think Ann is? Look here!

That is all.

The Hispanic Vote

More from the ever-interesting Steve Sailer.

That is all.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Jed Babblin'

I saw Jed Babbin on Hannity and Colmes the other night, arguing that the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq after the 3/11 bombings is what encouraged the Basques to commit terrorist attacks, because they felt now that it was an effective target.

The person on the other side didn't answer his argument except to say that the Basques weren't connected with the Muslim terroist group that committed the 3/11 bombings.

A better response would have been:
(1) Babbin, you're ignoring the fact that the Spanish people did not want Aznar to send troops to Iraq in the first place. 3/11 didn't change their minds, it just made them more determined to punish him for doing something that few of them wanted in the first place.
(2) What if they don't think that the invasion of Iraq is accomplishing anything? Not everyone believes that the conquest and occupation of Iraq is really going to help us defeat terror. Should they still stay in Iraq just to spite the terrorists? I mean, if someone threatened to commit a terrorist attack if you bashed your head against a wall, would you start bashing it against the wall just to prove they can't intimidate you?

The neocons essentially want to put us in a position where we feel like we are wimps or appeasers if we don't do whatever they want.

Jed Babbin is evil.

That is all.

Teen Rage

Interesting piece by Mary Eberstadt on the connection between dysfunctinal homes and the angst-ridden, violent music of today.
Also, Steve Sailer on one of the consequences of Roe vs. Wade.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Thrasymachus.

That is all.

Target bans the Salvation Army

Apparently, according to Snopes, the Target decision to ban the Salvation Army from soliciting was due to antidiscrimination laws.

This isn't explicitly stated, but saying "It's becoming increasingly difficult to have an exception to our policy, so we decided we would have no exceptions," seems to me to be a roundabout way of saying "we're in danger of geting sued if we pick and choose who we allow to solicit here."

Blame the anti-freedom-of-association people, aka "civil rights advocates."

That is all.

It's a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD World.

David Atkins has a plan to prevent nuckear terrorist attacks on the US. Announce that we will nuke North Korea and all of the major Muslim countries, including the cities of Mecca and Medina if an atmoic bomb is detonated anywhere in the US.
Don't bother tracing the bomb, just nuke. That way, these countries will not only avoid deploying nuclear terrorists against us, they will also work hard to prevent anyone else from doing so.

I see a problem.

I'm not saying that there isn't a justification for this sort of thinking. Indeed, if a nuclear blast were detonated in our country, I'd say, find out which country was responsible and wipe them off the face of the planet.

It also isn't a bad thing to hint that you may do these things, as that will serve as a deterrent (the goal of any MAD-like doctrine is, of course, to make it clear enough that you plan on following the doctrine that no one decies to test you.

The problem here is though that if we clearly delineate certain countries to be nuked, won't that encourage people who don't like those countries to detonate a bomb?

I mean, what if some rogue Indian or Israeli agent decides that he finally knows how to get the US to destroy all of his countries' enemies?

Moreover, it wouldn't matter if we later found out who was responsible, because our government would almost certainly cover it up (not because we are especially corrupt, but no one would want to admit to being duped into killing millions of people).

That is all.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Our Parent the State

Another Mises article, this one about public schooling.

That is all.

Malthus

The Mises Institute has an interesting article on Thomas Malthus, on whom I did a report for a mathematics class back in high school.

My essential objection to Mr. Malthus is that I am not certain why food resources would be predicted to grow arithmetically while population grows geometrically; the latter I unerstand, the former, there seems no resaon in my opinion to have a particular mathematical expression or equation describe its growth.

In any case, on one point Malthus was correct, insofar as geometric population increase cannot be sustained indefinitely; even with the entire universe to expand into, eventually geometric increase becomes too big to handle.

However, humans appear to have been able to avoid this problem by two means: first, technology has increased Earth's carrying capacity; and second, we naturally begin to decrease our rate of reproduction when we achieve a certain level of affluence. So it seems that the population will stabilize sometime in this century. Which is, in my opinion, unobjectionable.

That is all.

Not a Draft, but...

An interesting article from The Village Voice seems to support a possibility that I myself have suggested (although it doesn't say so explicitly): that the administration is cutting financial aid specifically in order to force more students into ROTC and thus increase the size of our military for the wars in the Middle East.

Not that I agree with federal financial aid to begin with; predicating it on military service does, I think, is the only way to make it Contitutional (as it would then fall under the rubric of providing for the common defense because it is a benefit given to people in the military and therefore in essence a salary paid to soldiers).

However, cynically using financial aid to fill up a military used for empire-building abroad and to maintain a large standing army is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

I wrote that our Iraqi "security forces" were mostly Kurdish pershmega a few weeeks ago and now this has become conventional wisdom. I think that the pushing of kids into college ROTC as a way to fill the military, which to my knowledge I was the first to predict, will also soon become conventional wisdom.

That is all.

Iraq Attaq Thoughts

Well, so far about 137 US and 4 UK fatalties in Iraq for November 2004.
129 hostile, 12 non-hostile (e.g. accidents).
So my prediction of at least 100 coalition fatalities was correct, although my prediction of at least 20 British (or all non-American forces combined) was not.

Oh, and US forces are expected to increase to 150,000 (up 12,000 from the current number of 138,000).

Yes, we are definitely winning.

That is all.

How Hmuch Hmore can we take?

When referring to the murders in Wisconsin by the Hmong man, VDARE is getting a habit of adding an "h to every word beginning with "m."
Michael Savage hmuffled
Hmong Hmedley

I am afraid that some might think me racist for enjoying such a jest.
However, the fact of the matter is that the traditional Hmong culture, which includes polygamy (specifically polygyny - i.e. more than one wife, not more than one husband [polyandry]), is not compatible with American values.
If the Hmong are to stay here, they need to assimilate.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Bob Wallace

Bob Wallace has a fascinating new column over at LewRockwell.com.
He is especially intersting because he has a particular way of looking at the world - through the lens of mythology and of the deeper meaning of common everyday myths. Not myths in the sense of commonly-believed untruths, but in the sense of the common cultural icons of the age. In our age, that would include such luminaries as the Looney Tunes and Underdog.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Elections in Iraq

Despite the fact that some have called for the elections in Iraq to be delayed, things will apparently proceed on schedule.

This is probably wise. Whatever problems with legitimacy an electoral delay may cause, if the Shiites don't get a chance to have their say, they will revolt.
I doubt that we will see much democracy, but the US is going to do its best to appease the Shiites because if they turn against us, our list of enemies in Iraq triples or quadruples.
The Arab Sunnis won't like this, and it is possible that the elections will have to be arranged so as to set aside a number of seats for them in order to keep them quiet. But there is no way that Bush can afford to anger the Shiites.
Of course, long term we're screwed in Iraq elections or no.

That is all.

Lynne Cheney's Novel

For a whole now, we have heard stories about Lynne Cheney, the wife of the Vice President having written a story with Sapphic overtones. This went a little bit above the radar after the flap about Kerry maliciously defaming Dick and Lynne Cheney's daughter Mary by calling her a "Lesbian" (why this statement, which is true, is defamatory, only the Republican National Committee and Bush 2004 know), which of course is something that should be kept personal and private except when she was working for the Republican Unity Coalition.

For those of you who wish to discover what exactly Mrs. Cheney wrote, her novel "Sisters" is now available online. (Credit CounterPunch for drawing my attention to it.
I'm certain that Jerry Falwell is very happy to have such a broad-minded Second Lady.

That is all.

Ukraine, Again

John Laughland suggests that we are getting a biased story about the Ukrainian elections.
Also, look at Yushchenko's face! Something is up there. Conspiracy theories abound, although some feel that the explanation is more prosaic; that Yushchenko suffers from cancer or a skin condition. what is the truth? I don't know. However, it is a little suspicious that whatever disease aflicted Yushchenko did so so close to the election.

That is all.

Iraq Casualties

So far, 121 coalition troops dead this month from enemy fire, 11 dead from other causes.
Wounded stats for US soldiers looks like it's going to be over 1000 when the weekly figures are all figured into the monthly figures.
I suspect that the hostile death toll next month will be somewhere in the 60s, and will start increasing again by February.
Stats
Hostile/non-hostile timeline

That is all.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Oil-for-Food

One thing about the oil-for-food program - it doesn't entirely absolve the US of the problems caused by sanctions. Even if the oil-for-food program could have perfectly provided for the Iraqi population were it not for the mismanagement, embezzlement, and corruption by and of the UN and Saddam Hussein, the oil-for-food program didn't exist until the mid-90s, while the sanctions were in place from 1991 on. So for about five years, there was no oil-for-food program, so oil-for-food corruption can't be blamed for problems during that time.

That is all.

Ukraine

There's a lot over at AntiWar.Com about the Ukrainian elections.
My feeling - we should butt out. If the world began to demand that we redo - or retabulate the results - of our election on the basis that some poeple felt it was stolen, we wouldn't like it.
I'm not saying that I know it wasn't stolen - but I think that the goal of the US here is not to make certain that the election is fair, but to make certina that it turns out the way WE want it to.
Not, of course, that Putin is any more interested in fairness than we are.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Disturbing

James Pinkerton makes the case that the current war in Iraq is likely to spin out of control into something much, much more brutal.
I am afraid that he is right. If we wind up going after Iran (and I believe that any attack on Iran or attempt to bring about a coup will lead to a full-on war), then the only alternative to a draft will be to bring to bear massive firepower, i.e. slaughter the population. We can't defeat Iran and hold it without huge numbers of ground troops under the normal rules of war, but we can probably defeat it if we simply kill anything that moves.
Syria we could probably take, but that would overextend our troops further and require either that we either pull a lot of troops out of other countries, or that we accept a lot more chaos in Iraq and Syria than we have right now because we lack the troops to contain the violence.

That is all.

Polygamous Hmarriage? Possible Hmurder?

I'm sure you've heard by now of the killing of several hunters in Wisconsin by another hunter, named Chai Vang. It has even been mentioned that the guy is a Hmong. What hasn't gotten as much attention is that the guy is probably also a polygamist, which is not uncommon for Hmong.

The larger question here is whether it is a wise thing to import so many people without assimilation (and whether we can assimilate at the current levels).
Difficulties in understanding hunting laws have long caused conflict between the Hmong and the rest of the populace.

In all due fairness, both sides probably share some of the blame for the problems. But to the extent that this shooting was the end result of the conflict between the Hmong and hte non-Hmong in Wisconsin, this does show that cultural differences matter when immigrating and that we need to consider culture a lot more in our immigration policy.

On the Coming War with Iran

Stephen LaTulippe has some interesting thoughts.
I wouldn't necessarily assume that he i s telling the whole story, and using numbers and factoids outside of a larger context as he does in some places can be misleading, but the article has some interesting insights.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My Top Ten List

Rolling Stone has released their 500 Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Songs of all time.

My choices for top ten (although they may not all qualify as Rock 'N' Roll):

(Not necessarily in order)

1. Ordinary World - Duran Duran
2. Shadows of the Night - Pat Benatar
3. Ask the Lonely - Journey
4. Peace of Mind - Boston
5. And We Danced - The Hooters
6. Friday I'm in Love The Cure
7. Your Love - The Outfield
8. I Wanna Go Back - Eddie Money
9. Jocko Homo - Devo (laugh if you want, but it started off new wave)
10. Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles

That is all.

Bush Still Fighting for Illegal Alien Amnesty

El Presidente is still pushing his guest worker program.

That is all.

Some Good News and Some So-So

The daily death toll in Iraq appears to have gone down over the past few days, compared to where it was during the incursion into Fallujah. This is good news, although it remains to be seen how long it will last. Currently this is the second deadliest month for the Coalition in terms of hostile deaths, and tied for second with last Novemer for total deaths. Most commentators will tell you that it hit 2nd place status days ago.
That is because they count only American deaths, and last November there were 28 non-American deaths compared to this November's 4.
By the way, the graph on the Hostile-non-hostile timeline needs to be made Mac-compatible!

On a More Personal Note

Apple stuff sure is expensive! But I still like it better than Windows. I've had to get a new keyboard because my old one had something spill on it.
New Hampshire has a very diffficult highway system. Getting to Salem (NH, not MA) from Durham is a er - female dog. But at least they usually put up a sign or two to tell you where you are going, unlike a certain other state that shall remain nameless but that rhymes with Bassachusetts.

That is all.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Andy and Happy Thoughts

Here are a few pieces from Andrew Sullivan.
Andrew is apparently upset with Bill Kristol. The only complaint I have about that is that when he points out that Bill has been unwillingto criticize Bush before the election, he does not also point out that Bill did disagree with Bush on troop levels since - well, at least several months ago and quite possibly last (i.e. 2003) summer. I remember him constantly beating the drums for more troops, so his belief that Bush has not put enough troops on the ground is something that he has been implicitly announcing for a while now; he's not a Billy-come-lately.
As to the issue of more troops itself, I sort of agree with Andrew and sort of don't. While I think that it is true that we will need more troops if we are to keep order Iraq over the next few months (at least unless we decide to keep order through collective punishment and mass slaughter), I think that it will be a temporary solution at best.
Ultimately, the longer we are in Iraq, the more the populace will turn against us. Unless we can pinprick our attacks enough to cause very, very little collateral damage, each of our campaigns will probably create more terrorists than they kill.
I think that in any counter-guerilla campaign, the military aspect can only provide a solution once enough people are killed that it becomes hard to garner new recruits. This happens either because potential new recruits see the cause as hopeless, or because everyone who could potentially join the insurgency is dead. In other words, our efforts against the insurgency will further enrage the soldierable* populace until there is no one left to enrage. So until we kill, let's say, 2 or 3 million Iraqi males, I have a feeling that military solutions alone won't work.

*Apt to fight in a war.

It's a Windows World

My keyboard broke and I went to Wal*Mart to get a replacement (wanting a replacement before the morning and not having anywhere else open).
So almost all of the keyboards were for IBM or 100% compatible computers only.
Thank God for Spongebob Squarepants.

That is all.

Kevin Sites: His Own Words

Kevin Sites speaks out on his blog and explains the story behind his taking the photograph of the soldier shooting the wounded insurgent.

That is all.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

How Sweet it is

These losers went all out to make certain that the left kept it within the two-party spectrum.
Well, pragmatism lost, you wimps. Kerry would have lost to Bush if every Nader voter had gone for Kerry.
As much as I hate Bush, it's always nice to see jerks lose.
Now, if somehow Bush can get caught in a trist with a nubile young Mexican who is here illegally, my year would be made. (Although this is very unlikely).
I feel about Bush and Kerry the way that Kissinger felt about Iraq and Iran.
"It's too bad they both can't lose."

NRO Comments on the Shooting

Mackubin Thomas Owens and
Jack Dunphy on National Review explaining the actions of the soldier who shot the wounded Iraqi. In both cases, they make the point that the soldier was justified in assuming, based on past experience, that the insurgent was faking it in order to get to attack him.
But both avoid the trap that Hack Kelly falls into by stating definitively that the insurgent was "feinting death."
(I don't have the references right now, but I recall reading or hearing reports that definitively identify this man as an insurgent rather than a civilian, so I am now comfortable definitively calling him an insurgent).

Michael Ledeen, on the other hand, offers something that I'm not certain I understand. He points out that a certain British soldier, by the name of Henry Tandey, could have killed Adolph Hitler way back in World War I, and by sparing his life, allowed him to take over Germany.
I am not entirely certain what the point is here.
In all due fairness, this was an excerpt from his book Machiavelli and Modern Leadership, and contains no commentary except for the passage in the book, so it doesn't comment per se on the current issue of the Marine shooting the wounded Iraqi. moreover, it is not clear whether Mr. Ledeen chose to put this comment on NRO, or whether it was the editors.
Nonetheless, in the context of the current situation, what is Mr. Ledeen's point? That we should never take prisoners but kill everyone associated with the insurgency? That we should kill anyone that we suspect might become Hitler in the future? I'm not certain I get it.
In any case, I am troubled by the idea, implied by the article, that we should think about preventively killing anyone who might become Hitler in the future.

Victor Davis Hanson

As usual, VDH spouts a lot of conventional wisdom that is not entirely correct.
For one thing, he apparently belives that the elections in Afghanistan are showing that Afghanistan is creating a real democracy, and that they prove wrong those who said:
"They said the country had descended into rule by warlords, and called the very idea of scheduled voting a laughable notion."

The possibility that the elections were rigged or that to a great extent, the way people voted was directed by their warlords:
"And there are those who will be happy to help - notably warlords who have already been reported using their militias to ensure local people vote in the required fashion."

He also gives the impression that Afghanistan has suddenly gone out of the media spotlight now that the elections have proven the medai wrong.
Actually, Afghanistan went out of the spotlight shortly after the fall ofthe Taluban in 2001, and only a few people have commented on it since.

Hanson also says: "Instead, Westerners simply now assume that there was never any controversy, but rather a general consensus that Afghanistan is a "good thing""

With the implication that many of the people who condemn the war in Iraq but who support the one in Afghanistan didn't initially support the war in afghanistan and are now trying to get on the train.

I don't know about everyone, but I know that I supported going to war in Afghanistan in 2001, although I never shared the beleif that it would turn into a democracy and I ahev always been skeptical of reports that Afghanistan is becoming a free nation. In fact, I got some people angry at me for supporting the war.
I will admit, though, that at one point I opposed bombing, preferring that we put in ground troops, because of the fear of massive starvation (a fear that did not materialize; I should have been more skeptical); however, unlike some of the leftists, I did not see the possibility of massive starvation from bombing as a reason to simply let the Taliban stay in power and to be nice and charitable. We lost lives, damnit, and we needed to make an example of those who were sheltering bin Laden.

In any case, there were several people who supported going into Afghanistan who later turned against going to war in Iraq. And I wager that a good number of those opposed to Afghanistan have not changed their tune, so Mr. Hanson's implication is wrong.

Also, any attempts to prove the success of Iraq based on the "People doubted we could win in Afghanistan, too" - type arguments falter on the grounds that Afghanistan doesn't seem to be worsening in the same way as Iraq.

A look at fatality metrics suggests that in Afghanistan a steady average of around 45 troops a year are being killed. I can try to crunch the numbers month-by-month later (click on the "+" signs for a day-by-day dropdown count of deaths) to see if there were any spots at which things seemed temporarily to go downhill, but I doubt there were.

On the other hand, in Iraq the rate at which soldiers are killed has kept going up.
Looking at total coalition fatalities, American fatalities, coalition hostile fatalities (my preferred metric), or whatever metric shows a marked increase in fatalities over time. This first started in October 2003, when the monthly hostile fatalities broke 30, and only went below once (February 2004, with 16, probably largely because we pulled all our troops back into their bases) and increased again after April, at which point monthly hostile fatalities never went below 40, and then in August, after which monthly fatalities never went below 58.

I'm sorry if I seem pessimistic, but very little irks me more than Utopian triumphalism of any stripe, including Messianic Democratism.

God Bless You, Allan Wall.

A soldier votes.

Iranian Feelings

Nicholas Schmidle offers an interpretation of the Iranian situation that seems reasonable to me - most Iranians like us, but they wouldn't respond well to the US trying to interfere in their government - this is a lot more believable to me than the Perle/Ledeen argument that the Iranians (like the Iraqis) want nothing else more than they want a US puppet regime, (because they love the US so much that a puppet regime would automatically have great legitimacy).
On the other hand, one of the examples that Mr. Schmidle gave of an Iranian expressing doubts about the US is rather poor, as the Iranian could just be criticizing the US to appease the regime (as they were under surveillance). I suppose mr. Schmidle assumes that the person is critical of both the Iranian regime and the US and that he wantd to make certain that both sides of his criticism were known, but he really never addresses the question of the man's sincerity.

US Boosting Troop Levels?

This article is cheerful.
In the last 2 paragraphs, they talk about Iraqi commando units. How much does anyone want to bet that these units are mainly Kurdish?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Jack the Hack is Back

Another waste of good bandwidth.

Some of the things he says don't make sense:
For example, he quotes john Thompson saying that a guerilla force must cause seven casulaties for each casualty on their side to remain viable.
Uh - doesn't that depend on how many insurgents there are and how big the enemies' force is, and on how quickly the guerillas can recruit more?

He also states that 1200 insurgents have been killed and 1100 captured, which sounds nice, but which assumes that the army isn't assuming anyone it finds who is dead to be an insurgent. Without some official estimate of civilian casualties, it is difficult to believe that some number-fudging isn't going on.

He quotes Ralph Peters saying that as a rule of thumb, a force taking a city suffers 1/4 to 1/3 its strength in casualties.
Again, an impressive rule of thumb, seeing as it doesn't take into account the size of the forces.

He also mentions that the police stations that were overun in Mosul were recaptured the next day. This ignores the fact that one probable reason for caputring them was for the insurgents to resupply themelves with ammunition. It is doubtful that they ever intended to hold them.

He also makes the statement, apparently backed up by Centcom, that there were only 5000 insurgents in Iraq and that, with the implication that, having eliminated 2000 of them, we are sitting pretty. (He acknowledges that some estimates are higher, but does not elaborate).

Wasn't that 5000 figure given back in January? And it's interesting that he dismissively states "other estimates were higher," as if it isn't worth analyzing.
I don't recall where this came from, but I thought that the last official estimate was 20,000. If this came from centcom, then Mr. Kelly is using old, out-of-date information. Does anyone know if this was a centcom figure or not?

He also sneers at the idea that Fallujah will help the insurgents by making the Arabs mad by saying that "By this logic, once we've killed all the terrorists, they'll be invincible."

Except that the process used for killing all of the "terrorists" may wind up helping them recruit more. Is this too hard for his little brain to understand? Oh, wait, they can't recruit Iraqis because the Iraqis love us. Kenneth Joseph told him so. And we all know how reliable ol' Ken is.

(Some may fault me for trusting Counterpunch, a very leftist site. But why has no one on the pro-war side mentioned Mr. Joseph, or the "hours of videotapes" of Iraqis pleading with us to conquer them, for more than a year?)

I also find it interesting that he is so certain that the wounded Iraqi was "feinting death." That of course means that he was entirely at fault for getting shot. It seems to me more likely that he was unconscious, and that his shooting was a mistake (in that if the Marine had had perfect knowledge, he wouldn't have shot), although it was justified under the circumstances (we don't have perfect knowledge).

UPDATE: I am not denying that the soldier thought that the Iraqi was feinting. I just find it irritating that idiots like Jack Kelly make the statement that he was faking when we don't know that. My perception was that the soldier's assumption was in error, but it was a good faith error, and one based on the actual behavior of other insurgents.

Thomas Sowell is Wrong

Thomas Sowell's latest column, Unlimited Enemy, is incorrect in my opinion for a number of reasons.

"Today's version is that, no matter how many Middle East terrorists we kill, new ones will take their place and we will have nothing to show for all our efforts and sacrifices."

What Mr. Sowell fails to recognize is that (a) the insurgents in Iraq don't need a lot of resources, and (b) the issue isn't that no matter how many terrorists you kill, there will be more, the issue is that as long as a you occupy the country, it is difficult to kill insurgents without creating more. Methods of killing those who pose a threat to the US that do not involve occupying foreign countries for long periods tend to cause less regeneration, methinks.

Moreover, the point is also being made that a successful strategy needs a good political component, not just "kill 'em all." As Afghanistan is proving, you can avoid increasing the insurgency too much if you avoid leaving too big a footprint.
Put another way, if you choose to occupy a foreign counry, there are less costly and more effective ways to defeat those who would attack you than trying to "kill 'em all."

Of course, there is a way that "killin' 'em all" would work; if we assume that the entire populace of Iraq is our enemy (or at least particular segments, e.g. the Sunni Arabs, and go about wiping them out).

He also resuscitates the old canard, "If Iraq is not connected to terrorism, why are so many terrorists desperate to drive us out."
Uh - Mr. Sowell, terrorists don't fight "for terrorism." They fight for causes. There are a lot of people who hate the idea of the US occupying an Arab country. The fact that they may be willing to use terrorism to accomplish that goal does not mean that Iraq was essential to their plans previously.

Also, not everyone who attacks the US in Iraq is properly labeled a "terrorist." People who deliberately kill innocent civilians, like the ones who set of bombs in Kurdistan in February and who set off bombs against the Shiite cleric back in August of 2003, or the people who blew up a children's bus, presumably to force the British troops out in the streets where they could get a better shot at them definitely are, but I don't think that attempting to kill occupying military troops is properly classed as terrorism.
Which is not to say that our soldiers shouldn't kill people who fight against them, but let's call the insurgents what they are, and not use labels that are essentially propaganda. (That also goes for those antiwarriors who call the insurgents "freedom fighters").

Roach and Glaivester Agree

Chris Roach appears to agree with me on the issued of the photograph of the Marine.

Bock to the Future

This article is worth a read.
Alan Bock (this link takes you to his most recent article; the first link was a permalink) is probably the best writer at antiwar.com, not least of all because he doesn't tend to write articles along the lines of "why do the Israelis like to kill Arab children?"

I am worried about what Bush might do in his second term, as are a lot more conservatives than you might think.

That is all.

Latest Statistics

95 US dead, 4 UK dead this month. 91 hostile deaths (i.e. the enemy killed them), 8 were non-hostile deaths (e.g. accidents). All non-hostile deaths were American.

That is all.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Tsk, Tsk, Mr. Fisk

I am antiwar, and I find this article to be disgusting.
Fisk is actually accusing the US of murdering Margaret Hassan to use as propaganda.

Maybe I am wrong and he is accusing Allawi or some other group in Iraq that supports us of doing it (Lord knows, anytime you occupy a foreign country, you have to be careful about whom among the natives you trust, as a lot of people who claim to support you may be doing so for their own reasons and might manipulate you or sell you out if they saw it being in their interests).

However, he does nothing to suggest that he is not accusing America, and offers no evidence other than a highly speculative motive to support his claim; the only evidence he offers is why he feels it unlikely that Zarqawi did this, and he appears to think that the coalition therefore must be responsible by default.

In any case, I can see why people like Andrew Sullivan equate the name "Fisk" with lies and inaccuracies.
There was an error in this gadget