ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Sunday, December 31, 2006

ARC's 2006 Predictions - A Harsh Review

Unlike many prognosticators in the blogosphere (and the web in general), we here at Another Rovian Conspiracy grade our previous year's predictions and poke fun of the conspirator with the fewest correct responses.

As you'll recall, our 2006 predictions were in the following categories:

  1. The War On Terror / Foreign Policy
  2. Domestic Politics
  3. Judicial
  4. Media & Blogs
  5. Financial & Economic
Each prediction will be scored on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 going to the most accurate (and humorous) prediction. 2 pts will be awarded for making a prediction... 0 pts only for not making a prediction at all - and yes, one of our conspirators did that several times. I'll provide the overall score for each category and highlight a few of the predictions that were absolutely correct, absolutely wrong, or just plain humorous.

On with the review! (MJ = Monterey John, B = Brian, SW = St Wendeler)

War On Terror/Foreign Policy
War On TerrorMJBSWComments
Iraq Troop Levels6105St Wendeler totally off, but predicts Zarqawi's capture/demise.
Hotspot in WOT662
More Elections in Mid East?888
Status of Kim Jong Il?888
Bashar Assad in power?882
PA-Official state of Hamas?858Fine line on this one...
WOT in AP?222
More Socialists in LA828
Blair as PM?288
UN in Iraq?101010
Major Terror Attack-US?222
Major Terror Attack-EU?222
NSA Surveillance888
Subtotals787973 Total Points Possible - 130

Domestic Politics
MJBSWComments
Bush Impeached101010
Libby Convicted?101010SW - "No, Fitz loses steam after he finally gets around to reading one of Tom Maguire's posts at JustOneMinute and realizes that Plame wasn't covered under the law and everyone knew that she worked at the CIA"
Rove Indicted?10104St Wendeler gets an extra 2 for poking fun of Fitzy
Delay Convicted?101010
Dean still DNC Chair?282
Reid as Senate Leader882
Pelosi as House Leader?889Extra pt to St Wendeler for creativity - Yes, but has yet another plastic surgery after the mid-terms, thinking that it will help. Unfortunately, we can now see her prefrontal cortex.
Party Control of Senate?222WRONG WRONG WRONG
Governorships?202Brian - "Dunno"
2008 Candidates Announce?889SW predicts Biden premature announcement, Romney's trips to NH
Governator in CA?282
Bush Approval Rating?222WRONG!!
Immigration?101010
Subtotal849475Total Possible Points - 130

Judiciary
MJBSWComments
Alito Confirmed?101010
Nuclear Option?101010
3rd Nominee?223St Wendeler pokes fun of Schumer, Leahy, et al
Subtotal222223Total Possible - 30

Media & Blogs
MJBSWComments
PJMedia Still Exists?888SW predicts possible change in name to Lingerie Media or Victoria's Open Secret to “sex up” the site
ARC Still In Existence?8108Brian's Prediction – Possibly... which is probably more accurate than “Yes”
Biggest Blogger to Hang it up?522MJ Predicts other gigs for Malkin
Biggest Blog Scandal?404SW predicts revelation that all DailyKos commenters are actually employees of NYTimes
Olberman still on air?283
O'Reilly still on air?888
Air America still on air?448SW: Yes, but Al Franken & Randi Rhodes have to say "Soros is a GOD" at the top of each hour.
Subtotals394041Total Possible - 70

Financial / Economic
MJBSWComments
Unemployment Rate1036B predicts a 4% swing in unemployment. How gutsy!
Annual GDP Growth663Using 3Q #s
Stock Market Up or Down for the year?668SW predicts 12k; Actual 12.5k
Google's Stock Price?2107Actual: 460; Brian: 460; SW: 500 (which it reaches in late Nov)
Tax cuts permanent?222
Social Security “reformed”?101010SW: Kick the can down the road. In 10 years, Dems will complain about the lack of resolve by Bush to solve the problem.
Tax System “reformed”?1044
Subtotals464140


Final Score
Out of 430 possible points... Brian edges out Monterey John.

Brian - 276 points
Monterey John - 269 points
St Wendeler - 252 Points


Congratulations to Brian for his 2006 predictions. He could've done better if he didn't answer "Dunno" on several items.

Up next - 2007 predictions!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, December 29, 2006

Chavez Closes Opposition Media - Nutroots Cheer

From the Beeb:

Chavez to shut down opposition TV

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he will not renew the licence for the country's second largest TV channel which he says expires in March 2007.

In an address to troops, Mr Chavez said he would not tolerate media outlets working towards a coup against him.

Radio Caracas Television, which is aligned with the opposition, supported a strike against Mr Chavez in 2003.

But the TV's head said there must be some mistake as its licence was not up for renewal in the near future.

Regular readers of Another Rovian Conspiracy are familiar with my coverage of Hugo and his Marxist counterparts in South America. My primary focus has been the unquestioning support for Hugo by American Leftists, both those in power and those who are part of the "reality based community," also known as the "nutroots."

Well, the news of Hugo's latest move receives similar support by the Left here in the US. From Democratic Underground, initial concern about Chavez's true colors. But that is quickly overcome by cheers for Chavez:
Say_What (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 12:47 AM
Response to Reply #3

6. BINGO!! Righto booley... and the quote comes from the other Golpista

paper, Globovision, owned by Bush pal and Chavez hater Gustavo Cisneros.


David__77 Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 12:52 AM
Response to Original message

7. I say shut it down and arrest its executives for treason.

They openly sided with the fascist coup. It's time to settle accounts. They violated Venezuelan laws and should be held to account.


WannaJumpMyScooter Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 12:54 AM
Response to Original message

9. He is closing Fox?

good.


maddezmom DU Moderator Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 12:56 AM
Response to Reply #7

11. If CNN did the same after the 2004 election here, would you feel the same?

I'm not sure how I feel about Venuezla's RCTV, but I'd probably been cheering CNN on. :shrug:



TankLV Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 12:57 AM
Response to Original message

12. Good for him. They were advocating the overthrow of his legitimately elected government.

That is TREASON.

We wouldn't tolerate that here.

Why should he tolerate it any further there.

He has already tolerated it for years already.

He has the patience of JOBE (job?)


liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 01:02 AM
Response to Original message

13. To those who say this is justified b/c the station is "treasonous"...

... what happened to freedom of speech?

Freedom of speech includes everyone, however heinous their views may be.


IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 01:02 AM
Response to Reply #1

14. The Venezuelan version of Faux News is a rightwing propaganda arm

not a news organization. We should do the same thing to Rupert Murdoch!


IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts)
Fri Dec-29-06 01:06 AM
Response to Reply #13

15. Freedom of speech for corporations only, is not freedom of speech.

Considering how the corporate media controls the flow of information in the US, I am amazed that we still have people that defend the corporate "freedom of speech" while denying it to the people.

BTW, a corporation is not a person either!

Hugo is the next Che for the Left. Expect to see t-shirts become fashionable shortly.

Gateway Pundit is also covering...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saddam & Satan "Hook Up" Nearing


Well, it looks like the fictionalized relationship between Saddam and Satan by South Park will become a reality shortly.

For those that are not fans of South Park, one running theme is Saddam's love affair with Satan - with Saddam often treating Satan poorly... the message being that Satan's not as bad as Saddam. The picture on the right is of Saddam & Satan having dinner down in Hell.

From the AP:

U.S. Preparing for Saddam's Execution
Dec 28, 11:42 PM (ET)

By LAUREN FRAYER

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - As Saddam Hussein's lawyer made a last-ditch effort to impede his execution Thursday, the White House was preparing for the ousted dictator to be hanged as early as this weekend, a senior administration official said. The timetable was based on information that U.S. officials in Baghdad received from the Iraqi government.
[...]

And, of course, this is great news. One of history's evil dictators who participated in genocide and use of weapons of mass destruction (both militarily against foreign nations and also against his own people) will meet his fate. And this is all thanks to the US forces that liberated the Iraqi people and then tracked this bastard down in his spider hole.

If you'll recall, Saddam was captured in Dec, 2003 - just over 3 years ago. But, don't let that stop the un-partisan and always rational NY Times from taking this opportunity to score some political points:
The Rush to Hang Saddam Hussein

The important question was never really about whether Saddam Hussein was guilty of crimes against humanity. The public record is bulging with the lengthy litany of his vile and unforgivable atrocities: genocidal assaults against the Kurds; aggressive wars against Iran and Kuwait; use of internationally banned weapons like nerve gas; systematic torture of countless thousands of political prisoners.

What really mattered was whether an Iraq freed from his death grip could hold him accountable in a way that nurtured hope for a better future. A carefully conducted, scrupulously fair trial could have helped undo some of the damage inflicted by his rule. It could have set a precedent for the rule of law in a country scarred by decades of arbitrary vindictiveness. It could have fostered a new national unity in an Iraq long manipulated through its religious and ethnic divisions.

It could have, but it didn’t. After a flawed, politicized and divisive trial, Mr. Hussein was handed his sentence: death by hanging. This week, in a cursory 15-minute proceeding, an appeals court upheld that sentence and ordered that it be carried out posthaste. Most Iraqis are now so preoccupied with shielding their families from looming civil war that they seem to have little emotion left to spend on Mr. Hussein or, more important, on their own fading dreams of a new and better Iraq.

Yes... 3 years is certainly a "rush" to hang Saddam. Just like the 12 year run-up to our final showdown with Saddam and the 14 UN resolutions were a "rush to war."

My only question is whether the hanging will be on Pay Per View... or whether it will be televised on Al-Jazeera....

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. - Rest In Peace

President Ford passed away late on Tuesday:

Former President Gerald Ford dies at 93

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Former President Gerald R. Ford, who declared "Our long national nightmare is over" as he replaced Richard Nixon but may have doomed his own chances of election by pardoning his disgraced predecessor, has died. He was 93.

The nation's 38th president, and the only one neither elected to the office nor the vice presidency, died at his desert home at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

"His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country," his wife, Betty, said in a statement.

Ford was the longest living former president, surpassing Ronald Reagan, who died in June 2004, by more than a month.

Ford's office did not release the cause of death, which followed a year of medical problems. He was treated for pneumonia in January and had an angioplasty and pacemaker implant in August.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced Wednesday.

"President Ford was a great man who devoted the best years of his life in serving the United States," President Bush said in a brief statement to the nation Wednesday morning. "He was a true gentleman who reflected the best in America's character."

Like most Republican leaders, Gerald Ford was the butt of many jokes (especially by Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live), focusing on his supposed lack of intelligence and inability to walk & chew gum at the same time. It's likely that such barbs played some part in his defeat to Jimmah Carter (History's Greatest Monster).

TigerHawk picked up this item from the AP's reporting:
We were more concerned with propriety [then] than we are today, and Jerry Ford reflected that. I was struck by this bit from the A.P.'s obituary:
In office, Ford's living tastes were modest. When he became vice president, he chose to remain in the same Alexandria, Va., home — unpretentious except for a swimming pool — that he shared with his family as a congressman.

After leaving the White House, however, he took up residence in the desert resort of Rancho Mirage, picked up $1 million for his memoir and another $1 million in a five-year NBC television contract, and served on a number of corporate boards. By 1987, he was on eight such boards, at fees up to $30,000 a year, and was consulting for others, at fees up to $100,000. After criticism, he cut back on such activity.

Even adjusting for inflation, Ford's post-office income was a tiny fraction of Bill Clinton's, yet there has been almost no criticism of Clinton and he certainly has not "cut back" in response to such criticism that there has been.

It is almost enough to make one nostalgic for the 1970s.

That's crazy talk about being nostalgic for the 70s, but I get his point....

Michelle Malkin
also has a good roundup.

Gerald Ford - Rest In Peace.

Note to Readers: Sorry for the hiatus... Christmas with a 4 year old and a 1 year old will play havoc on you and does not allow for time to think and blog. But, I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Later this week: 2007 Predictions from the Conspirators here.... and grades for last years' predictions!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Peace In Our Time, Part Deux

Excellent Video from David Zucker.

Watch it...


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yet Another Rovian Conspiracy Uncovered

It appears that The Onion has blown our conspiracy wide open... I just want to know who leaked htis operation.


December 18, 2006 | Issue 42•51

The Democrats' resounding midterm election triumph—sweeping both houses of Congress, as well as a majority of state legislatures and governorships—immediately bred suspicion among party leadership that Karl Rove, President Bush's closest adviser and the political mastermind behind Bush's rise to power, was once again pulling the strings.

"Let's not celebrate just yet," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said on Nov. 8, shortly after the more closely contested seats were declared in the Democrats' favor. "This decisive Democratic victory could very well be part of an unfathomably brilliant plan of Karl Rove's to position the Republicans for the 2016 elections, and probably beyond. History has shown that the man is an unstoppable evil genius. You can't underestimate him."

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Gay Rights March to Mecca

H/T GatewayPundit

I think this is a great idea... it's great that those who don't support our efforts to transform the middle east and bring them out of the dark ages are finally recognizing the true danger that Islamofascism represents to our way of life - and particularly their way of life.

Greg Gutfeld - 12.18.2006
The March to Mecca

HELLO EVERYONE. I know it's been awhile since I've posted, but I've been very busy working on my book and television and web projects. However, after receiving this press release from the Huffington Post, I had no choice but to return. This is an absolutely fantastic idea, and I urge everyone to participate.

PRESS RELEASE
EMBARGO DATE: December 15, 2006, 4 PM.

IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM AND TOLERANCE, AND IN HARMONY WITH OUR GAY MUSLIM BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WE PROUDLY ANNOUNCE THE FIRST MARCH TO MECCA, FEBRUARY 14, 2007

Human Rights Watch, Moveon.org, ACT-UP, the Huffington Post and David Geffen are proud to present the March to Mecca, a celebration of peace that calls all gay brothers, sisters and people undergoing sex-reassignment to march to the holiest of holy cities, Mecca, the capital city of Saudi Arabia's Makkah province on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2007.

The march, a brainchild of activists and celebrities who acknowledge that more gays are dying from Islamic fundamentalism than from the policies of George W. Bush, will begin 12 noon sharp in Jeddah, the stunning night-life friendly Saudi Arabian city located on the coast of the Red Sea.

"Not marching in these countries, in this era of terror, seems cowardly," says event co-organizer
Sharon Stone. "I'm embarrassed to say at social gatherings I even blamed the United States for
everything. But I realized it's the radical Muslims - not the US - who want gays dead, and for that I am truly sorry."

Paris' gay Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who was stabbed by an immigrant Muslim, is organizing the European contingency which features Limahl, Johnny Hallyday and Ciccolina. Whoopie Goldberg, along with Robin Williams will be hosting the kick off party at the Sheraton Riyadh. There will be refreshments and karaoke, hosted by David Hyde Pierce.

Beth Ditto, lead singer of the Gossip, who will perform with the newly reformed Yaz, thinks the march is overdue. "Forget right wing Christians. They don't hang gays for being gay. Islamofascists do. That's why were asking moderate, non-violent Muslims across the Western Province to join hands and embrace gay people everywhere."

"Almost half of all Muslim countries outlaw gay relations," says Huffington Post contributor Gene Stone, "and more than 70 countries ban all homosexuality, sometimes making it punishable by death. And here I am, blogging about how bad Renew America is. LOL."

"Think about the two teenagers convicted of homosexuality who were hanged in Iran last year," says Harry Shearer, "It makes all the hay we made over Mark Foley at the Huffington Post seem stupid. I, for one, am tired of being part of the problem."

The March to Mecca will snake through the sandy, sunny valley of Abraham, and it is urged that you pack sunblock and plenty of bottled water. "Don't forget to blog!" adds co-sponsor Arianna Huffington. After the march, Rep Barney Frank of the U.S. House of Representatives will host a special VIP rave on the Queen Boat, a floating disco on the Nile. Hugh Jackman will perform hits from "The Boy From Oz."

However... do they really think that a march is going to be effective? I mean, after a few hours, it's highly likely that everyone will be rounded up and thrown in jail by "our friends," the Saudis. And I hope that the marches aren't serious if they think they're going to get anywhere close to Mecca... If they really want to make a statement, they should try to go to the Holy Mosque... and perhaps carry some Bibles with them or something.

Because non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the city:
Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca.[1] Road blocks are stationed along roads leading to the city.

And you can be thrown in jail or simply beheaded if you bring a Bible into the country.

We'll have to send in Delta Force to rescue everyone after they pull a Khaleed Centanni and convert to Wahhabism, but at least it'll put things into perspective for them.

Let me put it this way... a "Gay Rights March to Mecca" is about as simple-minded and effective as a "Jewish Rights March to Berlin" in 1944.

Just don't see this guy making it very close to Mecca... And not just because he doesn't appear to keep to his training regime.



Or wait, perhaps this article from The Onion???

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Political Discourse in the 21st Century – Learning from Lincoln

I have not written a political word in months. There is a reason for that. I am disappointed, depressed and embarrassed by the level of political discourse.

In the last week or so I started reading Lincoln, particularly the Cooper Union speech and his arguments in the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. The comparison to what passes for political discourse today is striking.

One of the things missing from today’s politics is simple logic. This is true on both the Right and the Left. Even for those few who attempt logic, they enter into Voltaire’s “madness.” That madness is a belief held despite all the evidence. It is a sincere belief, simply wrong. This is most commonly seen on the Left but is also seen on the Right. From that belief they argue well, but it is madness. Lincoln never did that. He marshaled his facts and argued from truth.

What Lincoln did is simple but difficult. He took the people seriously and argued seriously to them. Today’s politicians do neither. Their appeals are almost universally emotional rather than rational. I have come to believe this is dangerous and must be reversed.

This approach to issues of the day is fed by the media. The appeal to emotion is a drumbeat. No news story can be rendered, especially on television, without some reporter telling us the story is emotional, or heart rending or inspirational or any of another of words telling us how we should feel… rather than THINK Again from the media we get emotion charged language as in their use of the word “semi-automatic” when referring to firearms. Semiautomatic has become synonym for machinegun. We hear a word and we are supposed to be programmed to have a specific emotional response. From the blogosphere we get name calling rather than debate. This is a pathetic state of affairs.

From the politicians we get shrieking Hillary Clinton’s, “We are patriotic! How dare you say otherwise!” From Rumsfeld we get there really is no major problem in Iraq and we are mastering the situation. Goodbye Mr. Rumsfeld! From John Kerry we get… well we get John Kerry. And on and on it goes.

I enjoyed Lincoln’s arguments with regard to slavery. He stated that there were people in the country that believed slavery was wrong and there were those that believed it was not wrong. The Republican Party was organized around the former belief Lincoln said in 1858. There was a core belief. From that core belief came policy.

He then went on to put a finger in Douglas’ eye. Lincoln said he could not find that Douglas ever said slavery was either wrong nor not wrong. Without a core belief, Douglas proposed the Kansas Nebraska act, or “popular sovereignty,” that would allow the states to elect for slavery or Free State status. Douglas proposed this without passing on the issue of whether slavery was wrong or not wrong.

I found it interesting Lincoln did not pose the question of whether slavery was right or wrong, but rather whether it was wrong or not wrong. Lincoln laid it right on Douglas: “Mr. Douglas says…” Where is that level or argument today?

The core belief, if you can call it that, of today’s politicians could well have been uttered by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!” So they talk in circles, appeal to emotion or live in Voltaire’s madness.

That may do in times of peace and tranquility. But these are not such times. It is time to take the people seriously and argue seriously to them. It is time to look to Lincoln, rediscover our core beliefs, argue them wisely and well, take them to the people and act upon them

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stealing the Network

The following is part of my "technology" expertise I guess. No politics involved. So for you people looking for Rovian conspiracies in how Tony Snow parts his hair, you won't find anything below. Go ahead and skip on down to Saint's excellent post on the Iraqi Surrender Group.

As some of you know, I'm a Network Security Analyst for a major computer services firm. As such, I read a lot of "security" books. I just finished a really good one, Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity. It's part of a series of books, all with a rather unique perspective. Rather than detailing attack methods or tools, it takes real-life examples and applies them to a fictional storyline. Even if your not that technical, you can follow along and see how the nature of computer security works. If you think computer hacking is guessing peoples passwords by using their birthday, their dogs names, etc., this book would show you how wrong you are.

I bring all this up because in this latest edition is a section at the end that outlines the real issues with computer crime. And specifically with making the "big score". And getting away with it.

Specifically, the author outlines a scenario that was presented to a friend of his. As a security auditor his friend discovered a flaw in a rather important computer. This computer was responsible for transferring a large amount of money between itself and other banks via the EFTS (Electronic Funds Transfer system). Around 4 billion dollars.

As you can imagine, if that sort of amount of money went missing, it would draw a lot of attention. The thought experiment he outlines is how one would get away with the theft of such an amount of money. You'd have to leave the country, you'd have to leave your friends and family, you would never be able to trust anyone, and in the end, you'd probably never even be able to spend it, since any lavish lifestyle is likely to draw attention to yourself and result in incarceration. You'd have to be able to change identities many times, you'd have to arrange for drop accounts in various banks around the world. And you'd have a hard time spending any of it.

In any case, I recommend the book, even for "non-techies", although it does have a hefty price tag for a work of fiction.

Two other books I can recommend are from famed hacker Kevin Mitnick. The Art of Intrusion, and The Art of Deception, detail the skill that Kevin was famous for. Social Engineering.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The ISG: Empowering the Terror Masters

While Michael Ledeen thinks the ISG's Report has a silver lining (in that it brings Iran into focus as our primary problem in the Middle East), I think that if someone wasn't already aware of this prior to the report's release last week, they're either a fool, an idiot, or perhaps a diarist at DailyKos.

Frankly, there are clear signs that the ISG report has emboldened Iran and its partner in terror, Syria. First, we have Iran hosting a conference that questions the facts surrounding the Holocaust:

Holocaust Conference Begins in Iran
Dec 11, 4:43 PM (ET)
By NASSER KARIMI

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran hosted Holocaust deniers from around the world Monday at a conference examining whether the Nazi genocide took place, a meeting Israel's prime minister condemned as a "sick phenomenon."

The 67 participants from 30 countries included former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Holocaust skeptics who have been prosecuted in Europe for questioning whether 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis or whether gas chambers were ever used.
[...]
The two-day conference was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an apparent attempt to burnish his status as a tough opponent of Israel. The hard-line president has described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Earlier this year, his government backed an exhibition of anti-Israel cartoons in a show of defiance after Danish cartoons caricaturing Islam's Prophet Muhammad were published in Europe, raising an outcry among Muslims.

While President Tom may have questioned Holocaust facts in the past, he wouldn't have hosted a conference on it.

Meanwhile, in the fledgling and struggling democracy that is Lebanon, Hezbollah (Syria's proxy) is pushing to be included in the government or it will overthrow the current leaders:
Crowds flood Beirut to pressure government
By SAM F. GHATTAS and ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press Writers Sun Dec 10, 7:16 PM ET

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah members and their allies flooded central Beirut on Sunday demanding changes in the government's makeup as soldiers strung more barbed wire around the offices of the Western-backed premier.

Buoyed by the big turnout after a week of street protests, the pro-
Syria opposition gave Prime Minister Fuad Saniora an ultimatum of a "few days" to accept its demand to form a national unity government with a big role for Hezbollah or face an escalating campaign to oust him.

And instead of discussing whether we should be talking to Iran or not, reversing our calls for regime change in Iran, and putting the Palestinian "Right of Return" in a semi-official document for the first time ever, we should be supporting these courageous students who had the cojones to heckle President Tom:
Iran students heckle Ahmadinejad
Dec 11 8:03 AM US/Eastern

Iranian students have disrupted a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a prestigious Tehran university, setting fire to his picture and heckling him.

"Some students chanted radical slogans and inflamed the atmosphere of the meeting" at the Amir Kabir University, said the semi-official Fars news agency on Monday, which is close to Ahmadinejad.

"A small number of students shouted 'death to the dictator' and smashed cameras of state television but they were confronted by a bigger group of students in the hall chanting: 'We support Ahmadinejad'," it said.

It was the latest in a series of student demonstrations in recent days, the first time in least two years that such protests have taken place on this scale at Iranian universities.

Ahmadinejad responded by describing those students chanting the slogans as an "oppressive" minority.

It is dangerous to give legitimacy to radical and irrational regimes. It was dangerous to allow the Nazis to host the Olympics in the 1930s... and then to negotiate with them after giving them legitimacy. And if you don't believe that official positions or statements have impacts on opposition movements within countries, you must read Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy.

And keep in mind that it was recently reported that Iran is now supporting and attempting to influence Al-Qaeda by grooming its next generation of leaders. If our response to 9/11 was to not make a distinction between the terrorists and those who harbor them, is it such a wise idea to open negotiations with Iran? Or is it now our policy to negotiate with terrorists?

The Iraq Study Group Report is emboldening our enemies and disheartening our allies.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mark Steyn on the Iraq Study Surrender Group Report

Regular readers know that I abhor the ISG report in all its silliness. Well, Mark Steyn puts the finishing touches on this piece of crap which is being hailed by the MSM as our "only way" to "move forward in Iraq."

ISG must stand for, uh, Inane Strategy Guesswork
December 10, 2006

BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist

Well, the ISG -- the Illustrious Seniors' Group -- has released its 79-point plan. How unprecedented is it? Well, it seems Iraq is to come under something called the "Iraq International Support Group." If only Neville Chamberlain had thought to propose a "support group" for Czechoslovakia, he might still be in office. Or guest-hosting for Oprah.

But, alas, such flashes of originality are few and far between in what's otherwise a testament to conventional wisdom. How conventional is the ISG's conventional wisdom? Try page 49:

"RECOMMENDATION 5: The Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria . . ."

Er, OK. I suppose that's what you famously hardheaded "realists" mean by realism. But wait, we're not done yet. For this "Support Group," we need the extra-large function room. Aside from Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait, the ISG -- the Iraq Surrender Gran'pas -- want also to invite:

". . . the key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States . . ."

Er, OK. So it's basically an Arab League meeting. Not a "Support Group" I'd want to look for support from, but each to his own. But wait, Secretary Baker's still warming up:

". . . the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council . . ."

That would be America, Britain, France, Russia, China. A diverse quintet, representing many distinctive approaches to international affairs from stylish hauteur to polonium-210. Anybody else?

". . . the European Union . . ."

Hey, why not? It's not really multilateral unless there's a Belgian on board, right? Oh, and let's not forget:

". . . the Support Group should call on the participation of the United Nations Secretary-General in its work. The United Nations Secretary-General should designate a Special Envoy as his representative . . ."

Indeed. But it needs to be someone with real clout, like Benon Sevan, the former head of the Oil for Food Program, who recently, ah, stepped down; or Maurice Strong, the Under-Secretary-General for U.N. Reform and godfather of Kyoto, who for one reason or another is presently on a, shall we say, leave of absence; or Alexander Yakovlev, the senior procurement officer for U.N. peacekeeping, who also finds himself under indictment -- er, I mean under-employed. There's no end of top-class talent at the U.N., now that John Bolton's been expelled from its precincts.

So there you have it: an Iraq "Support Group" that brings together the Arab League, the European Union, Iran, Russia, China and the U.N. And with support like that who needs lack of support? It worked in Darfur, where the international community reached unanimous agreement on the urgent need to rent a zeppelin to fly over the beleaguered region trailing a big banner emblazoned "YOU'RE SCREWED." For Dar4.1, they can just divert it to Baghdad.

Oh, but lest you think there are no minimum admission criteria to James Baker's "Support Group," relax, it's a very restricted membership: Arabs, Persians, Chinese commies, French obstructionists, Russian assassination squads. But no Jews. Even though Israel is the only country to be required to make specific concessions -- return the Golan Heights, etc. Indeed, insofar as this document has any novelty value, it's in the Frankenstein-meets-the-Wolfman sense of a boffo convergence of hit franchises: a Vietnam bug-out, but with the Jews as the designated fall guys. Wow. That's what Hollywood would call "high concept."

Why would anyone -- even a short-sighted incompetent political fixer whose brilliant advice includes telling the first Bush that no one would care if he abandoned the "Read my lips" pledge -- why would even he think it a smart move to mortgage Iraq's future to anything as intractable as the Palestinian "right of return"? And, incidentally, how did that phrase -- "the right of return" -- get so carelessly inserted into a document signed by two former secretaries of state, two former senators, a former attorney general, Supreme Court judge, defense secretary, congressman, etc. These are by far the most prominent Americans ever to legitimize a concept whose very purpose is to render any Zionist entity impossible. I'm not one of those who assumes that just because much of James Baker's post-government career has been so lavishly endowed by the Saudis that he must necessarily be a wholly owned subsidiary of King Abdullah, but it's striking how this document frames all the issues within the pathologies of the enemy.

And that's before we get to Iran and Syria. So tough-minded and specific when it comes to the Israelis, Baker turns to mush when it comes to Assad assassinating his way through Lebanon's shrinking Christian community or Ahmadinejad and the mullahs painting the finish trim on the Iranian nukes. Syria, declare the Surrender Gran'pas, "should control its border with Iraq." Gee, who'dda thunk o' that other than these geniuses?

Actually, Syria doesn't need to "control its border with Iraq." Iraq needs to control its border with Syria. And, as long as the traffic's all one way (because Syria's been allowed to subvert Iraq with impunity for three years), that suits Assad just fine. The Surrender Gran'pas assert that Iran and Syria have "an interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq." This, to put it mildly, is news to the Iranians and Syrians, who have concluded that what's in their interest is much more chaos in Iraq. For a start, the Americans get blamed for it, which reduces America's influence in the broader Middle East, not least among Iran and Syria's opposition movements. Furthermore, the fact that they're known to be fomenting the chaos gives the mullahs, Assad and their proxies tremendous credibility in the rest of the Muslim world. James Baker has achieved the perfect reductio ad absurdum of diplomatic self-adulation: he's less rational than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

If they're lucky, this document will be tossed in the trash and these men and women will be the laughingstocks of posterity. But, if it's not shredded and we embark down this path, then the Baker group will be emblematic of something far worse. The "Support Group" is a "peace conference," and Baker wants Washington to sue for terms. No wonder Syria is already demanding concessions from America. Which is the superpower and which is the third-rate basket-case state? From the Middle Eastern and European press coverage of the Baker group, it's kinda hard to tell.

I fear that with the support from the inside-the-bubble/MSM media and the back-biting of the Dems in Congress, Bush will lose enough of his vision and actually try to implement some of what passes for "a way forward in Iraq" in this idiotic report. As with the 9/11 commission recommendations, the press and the Left will continue to ask what points have been implemented and for those that have not yet been implemented, why not?

I mean, our foreign policy is supposed to be determined by former fixers, former Indiana congressmen, former Bimbo-eruption diffusers, and former Supreme Court justices, right? If the panel has spoken, then we must blindingly follow!!! THE ELDERS HAVE SPOKEN!!!

Of course, the Pentagon and State Dept reports are due out shortly as well and I hope they're given as much coverage as this piece of crap. and I hope that the State's report is actually constructive, instead of trying to protect its turf and expand its power base. (The way to us win in Iraq is not through politics & diplomacy, but through military force and IRAQI politics.)

This will be one of the first indications as to whether my prediction regarding the final two years of W's administration: if he pays more heed to the Iraq Study Group Report than he does to the Pentagon report, welcome to the Harriet-Miers-Presidency.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Iraq Study Group vs. Reality

I mean, if this is what passes for realism these days, I think I'll have to opt for idealism... or xanaduism... or something.

I mean, if engaging this guy and asking for his help in putting Iraq back together again is ridiculous on the face of it - given the fact that he's the one with pushing Iraq off the wall (to keep with the Humpty-Dumpty metaphor).

Oh, and have I mentioned that President Tom is completely insane and wants to kill us all?

Follow God or vanish, Ahmadinejad tells West
Dec 06 5:14 AM US/Eastern

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned Western leaders to follow the path of God or "vanish from the face of the earth".

"These oppressive countries are angry with us ... a nation that on the other side of the globe has risen up and proved the shallowness of their power," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern town of Ramsar, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported Wednesday.

"They are angry with our nation. But we tell them 'so be it and die from this anger'. Rest assured that if you do not respond to the divine call, you will die soon and vanish from the face of the earth," he said.

The outspoken president also maintained Iran's defiance over its controversial nuclear programme, saying it was on course to fully master nuclear technology.

"Thank to God's help, we have gone all the way and are only one step away from the zenith.

"We hope to have the big nuclear celebration by the end of the year (March 2007)," Ahmadinejad said, echoing comments he has made on numerous occasions in recent months.

A defiant Iran has refused to suspend its uranium enrichment work, a process that the West fears could be extended to make nuclear weapons.

Iran however insists its nuclear programme is solely aimed at generating energy.

France's Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Wednesday after a Paris meeting on Tehran's nuclear programme that the UN Security Council is agreed "there will be sanctions" on Iran, though their extent is yet to be decided.
Iran's telling us that they're going to kill us with nukes and we're relying on the French Foreign Minister's determination as to the extent of sanctions against Iran? PEACHY!!!!

I know, I know... there isn't anything that can't be worked out diplomatically. As the Iraq Study Group points out on page 37:
Dealing with Iran and Syria is controversial. Nevertheless, it is our view that in diplomacy, a nation can and should engage its adversaries and enemies to try to resolve conflicts and differences consistent with its own interests. Accordingly, the Support Group should actively engage Iran and Syria in its diplomatic dialogue, without preconditions.

The Study Group recognizes that U.S. relationships with Iran and Syria involve difficult issues that must be resolved. Diplomatic talks should be extensive and substantive, and they will require a balancing of interests. The United States has diplomatic, economic, and military disincentives available in approaches to both Iran and Syria. However, the United States should also consider incentives to try to engage them constructively, much as it did successfully with Libya.
I guess we'll have to stop shipping all of our precious goods & services to Iran... I mean, we have a lot of economic disincentives that we can use as leverage.

Listen... let's face facts. We've got nothing. They think we're too chickenshit to act militarily in either Syria or Iran... Until they have a real fear that that might happen, what would incent them to help us one iota?

What turned Libya around? Was it our diplomatic efforts? or was it the fact that we just ripped through Iraq in 3 weeks? This isn't rocket science, but if you put 10 Washington "players" in an air-conditioned room for a year, it might just look like rocket science.

***UPDATE***
NRO's John Podoretz has this excellent observation about the "realism" of Jim Baker in the Corner:
The Delusional James Baker [John Podhoretz]
"As for Syria, Baker said that as Secretary of State to President George H. W. Bush he made 15 trips there in the early 1990s, 'and we made them change 25 years of policy.'" This sentence appears in today's Los Angeles Times. And it's interesting. Because Syrian policy changed in no way during the first Bush administration. Rather, it was Baker who muddied U.S. policy for the purpose of sucking up to Syria so that he could claim its support, or at least its refusal to oppose, the Persian Gulf War. To that end, Baker criticized his own State Department's inclusion of Syria on the list of states that sponsor and commit acts of terrorism. Quoth Baker at the time: "We believe that, so far, Syria was put on the list without any justification." Syria's inclusion, he complained, was "meant for political objectives rather than analyzing an objective situation.”

Syria, then and now, is one of the world's two leading state sponsors of terrorism, and Baker knew it, and he lied through his teeth. But the key thing to note here is that Syria did nothing differently after Baker's suck-up from what it had done before. Nothing.

If Baker really believes his actions changed Syrian policy during his tenure as Secretary of State, then he's not the clever and cynical man I took him for. Rather, he's a delusional fool.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Blast from the past

On the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, this post from Transterrestrial Musings is fun. The media has sure changed in 65 years. The best was this paragraph however, which brought back a "blast" from the past.

Some enterprising and innovative people have carried the analysis further. In one sequence shown in the documentary, a man built a wooden model of the ship in his pond, and filmed himself dropping lit firecrackers on it from above, to demonstrate how preposterous was the notion that ships could be sunk by bombs. They seemed to have no effect other than a slight scorching of the deck, and the sturdy little toy remained afloat.

He was proud of his own small part in uncovering the cover up. "Other than the fact that the ship is wood, which is much weaker than steel, and I used firecrackers instead of iron bombs, and that there was no ammunition magazine aboard to explode, this is a perfect simulation of what the Roosevelt administration claims happened to the Arizona. But there the ship floats, to show to one and all the administration's lie. And how convenient of Roosevelt to die a year and a half ago, so he can avoid having to answer these questions."

The moonbatter with the chickenwire.



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lou Dobbs - Call Your Office

Saw this wonderful post over at Cafe Hayek, a wonderful econoblog.

Almost three years ago, Scott Kirwin was Wired's pissed off programmer ("The New Face of the Silicon Age," issue 12.02). Tossed from his job and raging against globalization, he had launched the Information Technology Professionals Association of America to lobby against offshored work and imported workers. These days, Kirwin still works with computers. He's just less pissed: In June, he shuttered the ITPAA. "I don't view outsourcing as the big threat it was," he says. What changed? Well, Kirwin found better work as an analyst and software architect. And he noticed that the talents that make him valuable – open-mindedness, a willingness to take risks, flashes of ingenuity – couldn't be reduced to a spec sheet and emailed to Hyderabad. If more Americans develop such abilities, Kirwin believes, the use of Indian programmers could even improve our economic outlook. Outsourcing isn't going away, he says. "But in the end, America may be stronger for it."
It's amazing how things work out. I've been discussing how the anti-outsourcing kerfluffle was ridiculous since this blog's inception. And given the current unemployment rate (up to an depressing 4.5%) and the increasing lack of skilled workers, this isn't surprising to me.

What I find amazing is that Lou Dobbs & Co will continue to peddle their idiocy on a daily basis - and many in America will eat it up.

One anecdotal remark from today... returned home from a church event and son had a goodie-bag. In the goodie bag were a variety of items, but first to be put to use was a stamp that had a nativity scene... the stamp prominently displayed a label that said, "Made in China."

I turned to my wife and said, "We cannot allow there to be a Baby-Jesus-Stamp-Gap!!!" (Ala Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove ("Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!") At some point in America's economic past, small trinkets and toys like this were made domestically. Is it absolutely necessary that the US retain an absolute competitive advantage in Baby-Jesus-Stamps? Or running shoes? Or in Help Desk services?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

I DEMAND A PUBLIC TAKEOVER OF THE UTILITIES!!!

At least, that's the only real solution to the power outages here in Missouri, right?

I mean, the regulated monopoly system that's currently in place only benefits the regulated monopoly and those that oversee it - ie, the politicians that can get on their high-horse and demand an action. It's truly the power of "political pull" that is in full effect with regard to the utilities and Missouri's Public Service Commission. (my [comments] throughout):

Missouri: Ameren on the hot seat
By Jeffrey Tomich
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Dec. 06 2006

Missouri's top utility regulator put AmerenUE on notice Tuesday: Find a way to
stop the mass power outages.

Missouri Public Service Commission Chairman Jeff Davis gave the utility 30 days
to come up with a plan.

"The response that these things just happen — that's well and good — but that
line only works once a decade," Davis said in an interview while en route to
St. Louis to get a firsthand look at last week's storm damage.
[Pure political posturing on his part.]

The storm marked the fourth time in Davis' 2 1/2-year tenure as head of the PSC that hundreds of thousands of customers were left in the dark after a major
storm. About 96,000 Ameren customers in Missouri and Illinois still were
without power as of 10:32 a.m. today.

While nothing can be done to completely storm-proof the local power grid, Davis
said he's tired of answering questions from upset customers.

"We've got to get some answers to people, and we've got to get them now," Davis
said. "I don't want to be back here six months from now with 500,000 customers
out of power."
[Davis is the protector of the consumer!!]

The heightened tension between Missouri's largest electric utility and the
five-member body that regulates it comes as the commission is considering a
request to increase electric rates by $361 million a year. Increases for
homeowners would be capped at 10 percent. Commercial and industrial customers would pay more.
[Oh, that's just lovely... glad that my electricity rates are decided by 5 people, instead of the power of millions of individual choices (in the form of a free market sytem). I think the old saying could be modified to be "a million heads are better than five."]

AmerenUE said last week's storm that left a thick coat of ice on trees, poles
and power lines, prompting many to snap, is unprecedented in its 100-year
history. [Except for the three other outages in the past 2 1/2 years] The utility made the same argument when back-to-back thunderstorms left almost a million people without electric service in the bistate area in July — some for as long as nine days.

The utility, too, is exasperated.

"We understand the commission's frustration," Ameren spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said Tuesday. "We share that frustration. Everyone is looking for an
easy answer. Everyone wants to make this better, but our priority is getting
everyone back on."
[That says it all! Do they understand the consumer's frustration? No, their only concern is the commission that regulates them.]

Davis and three other commissioners said they couldn't comment on the pending
rate case, which comes down to the utility's costs and determining how big of a
profit AmerenUE is allowed to earn.
[oh, lovely... what a great, New Deal-era system we're still living under.]

But customer service also could be considered by the commission.

"In general, performance is a factor that can be taken into account in setting
a return," Commissioner Steve Gaw said
[What paragraph is this? It took them this long to mention the customer and customer service!!!!]

[...]

Warren Wood, head of utility operations for the PSC staff, inspected the storm
damage Monday in north St. Louis and was returning with Davis on Tuesday. What
he saw reinforced the need for the commission to adopt a series of
recommendations made last month as part of a 153-page report on the summer power outages, he said.
[A 153 page report was developed in November... in response to a power outage this summer?! That's called being responsive if you're a bureaucrate.]

[...]

Davis said addressing the tree-trimming backlog and other actions clearly don't
go far enough.

"People want solutions and people are looking to me as chairman of the
commission to get them solutions," he said. "Offer us some solutions or it's
going to be us offering the solutions."
[ummm, Mr. Davis... how about offering me the solution of choice????]
And this gets to the heart of the matter. When utility deregulation was a possibility, many of its critics laughed, asking who in the heck would care about one power company over the other.. I mean, how can electricity be differentiated?

Well, when your service is down and the utility is a monopoly, they have little incentive to upgrade their systems by burying power lines instead of relying on overhead lines from the early 20th century. And it's unlikely that they will respond to consumer demands for greener power by investing in R&D... what's the point when the money keeps rolling in without a single threat from a competitor?

They also have little incentive to resolve the problem of an outage, other than the potential political backlash (see above example) or the short-term loss of revenue. It's not like any AmerenUE customer can even threaten to go to a competitor.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Don't Forget the Heroes

PilotEarnsDistinguishedFlyingCross_files/image003.jpg

Pilot Earns Distinguished Flying Cross

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2006 — Back in March in Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill, with the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, was piloting her Kiowa Warrior when the lead chopper came under heavy fire. She drew the fire away, simultaneously providing suppressive fire for the troops engaged with the enemy on the ground.

A rocket-propelled grenade hit her, damaging the helo’s instrumentation, but instead of focusing on her predicament, she established communication with the ground forces and continued to provide them with aerial weapon support until the soldiers reached safety.

As she turned her attention to the aircraft, which was losing hydraulic power, the helo took on machine-gun fire, a round crashing into one of Hill’s ankles. Still, with a damaged aircraft and an injury, she landed at Forward Operating Base Normandy, saving her crew and aircraft.

Vice President Richard Cheney presents the Distinguished Flying Cross to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill in a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky. on Oct. 16. U.S. Army photo

For her actions she was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Vice President Richard Cheney at Fort Campbell, Ky., on Oct. 16.

“It’s was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to get the award and then have the vice president come and award it to you,” she said. “It’s just incredible for any soldier.”

Recalling that day in March, Hill reflected, “I was actually just glad I didn’t pass out and very happy I was able to help the ground guys out, and get our helicopter down safely on the ground.”

I hope that the Iraq Study Group and those hoping for us to cut & run, "pull a Frenchie," or redeploy to Okinawa recognize the valor of soldiers like Chief Warrant Officer Lori Hill.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, December 03, 2006

NRO on the Iraq Study Group

National Review Online provides some additional insights on the Iraq Study Group. They also provide some advice to the Bush administration - throw it in the trash.

One for the Wastebaskets

By The Editors

The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG) is turning into a parody of bipartisan commissions. Such commissions are often driven by their own internal dynamics rather than by any connection to the real world. So it is that the ISG has apparently blended a Republican option to keep fighting in Iraq with a Democratic option to adopt a timetable for withdrawal by next year, and come up with a recommendation of withdrawing American combat troops (perhaps to their Iraqi bases) on a non-specified timetable. If this is so, any costs of distributing the report should be saved by printing it and then immediately depositing it in the nearest wastebaskets.

It shouldn’t be surprising that five Republicans and five Democrats sitting around a table can’t come up with any ready solutions to Iraq. First, there are genuine, deep divides between the two parties that can’t be bridged by a few elder statesmen, no matter how exalted or well-meaning. Second, there are no ready solutions, at least not in the sense of magic bullets that wouldn’t already have occurred to people much more expert in military strategy and Middle Eastern affairs. As the admirably plainspoken former GOP senator Alan Simpson, an ISG member, said of Washington’s expectations of the commission: “If they think this noble group of ten are going to solve this issue, I think people are doing a little bit of heavy breathing.”
[...]
[The Iraq Study Group's recommendations are just] dressed-up surrender in Iraq. As soon as the U.S. began such a redeployment, the security situation would worsen and the political environment would further deteriorate. It would become clearer that the anti-American Moqtada al-Sadr had bet correctly against us, and he would have a chance of commanding the most effective fighting force left standing in Iraq. The theory is that a U.S. withdrawal to bases would pressure Prime Minister Maliki to begin to crack down on the militias and purge the extremists in his midst. But the opposite would likely be the case. The men with guns would be more empowered — and they aren’t the moderates. Maliki might not be the most adept politician, but he would be able to see — and unfortunately, probably already has — which way the wind was blowing, and would tilt even further toward Sadr.

The U.S. needs to fight more in Iraq, not give up. That means sending more troops to Baghdad. Yes, we should be training more Iraqi units and embedding more American troops with those units, but there is no substitute in the near term for more U.S. troops on the ground. Only we can stabilize Baghdad, and only a better security situation there can provide the conditions necessary for the kind of political progress that might turn the war around.

The apparently risible recommendation of the ISG has a silver lining, however. It will make it easier for President Bush to politely dismiss its findings, and — we hope — do what’s necessary to try to save Iraq.

I have little hope that the Iraq Study Group (which apparently sought advice on strategy from a failed presidential hopeful - who, by the way, served in Vietnam) will produce anything that actually is actionable.

I hope Bush has the cojones to hold a press conference at which he shreds the document with the press looking on in astonishment, exclaiming, "But, Mr. Bush!!! That's the Iraq Study Group Report!!! Our only salvation in Iraq!!!!!!"

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Steyn on the Iraq Study Group

I don't seem to recall anything in the Constitution that stipulated that our foreign policy was to be determined by a Blue-Ribbon panel... and Mark Steyn hits that point hard in today's Chicago Sun-Times:

Iraq is just test of will for America
December 3, 2006
BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist

James Baker's "Iraq Study Group" seems to have been cast on the same basis as Liza Minnelli's last wedding. A stellar lineup: Donna Summer, Mickey Rooney, the Doobie Brothers, Gina Lollobrigida, Michael Jackson, Mia Farrow, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Jill St. John. That's Liza's wedding, not the Baker Commission. But at both gatherings everyone who was anyone was there, no matter how long ago it was they were anyone. So the fabulous Baker boy was accompanied by Clinton officials Leon Panetta and Bill Perry, Clinton golfing buddy Vernon Jordan, Clinton's fellow sex fiend Chuck Robb, the quintessential ''moderate'' Republican Alan Simpson, Supreme Court swing vote par excellence Sandra Day O'Connor . . .

God, I can't go on. I'd rather watch Mia Farrow making out with Mickey Rooney to a Doobie Brothers LP. As its piece de resistance, the Baker Commission concluded its deliberations by inviting testimony from -- drumroll, please -- Sen. John F. Kerry. If you're one of those dummies who goofs off in school, you wind up in Iraq. But, if you're sophisticated and nuanced, you wind up on a commission about Iraq. Rounding it all out -- playing David Gest to Jim Baker's Liza -- is, inevitably, co-chairman Lee Hamilton, former congressman from Indiana. As you'll recall, he also co-chaired the 9/11 Commission, in accordance with Article II Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, which states: "Ye monopoly of wisdom on ye foreign policy, national security and other weighty affairs shall be vested in a retired Representative from the 9th District in Indiana, if he be sufficiently venerable of mien. In the event that he becomes incapacitated, his place shall be taken by Jill St. John." I would be calling for a blue-ribbon commission to look into whether we need all these blue-ribbon commissions, but they'd probably get Lee Hamilton to chair that, too.

Don't get me wrong, I like a Friars' Club Roast as much as the next guy and I'm sure Jim Baker kibitzing with John Kerry was the hottest ticket in town. But doesn't it strike you as just a tiny bit parochial? Aside from Senator Kerry, I wonder whether the commission thought to hear from anyone such as Goh Chok Tong, the former prime minister of Singapore. A couple of years back, on a visit to Washington just as the Democrat-media headless-chicken quagmire-frenzy was getting into gear, he summed it up beautifully:

''The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.''

As I write in my new book, Singaporean Cabinet ministers apparently understand that more clearly than U.S. senators, congressmen and former secretaries of state. Or, as one Baker Commission grandee told the New York Times, ''We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out.''

An ''exit strategy'' on those terms is the path out not just from Iraq but from a lot of other places, too -- including Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, Russia, China, the South Sandwich Islands. For America would be revealed to the world as a fraud: a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- or, at any rate, no will. According to the New York Sun, ''An expert adviser to the Baker-Hamilton commission expects the 10-person panel to recommend that the Bush administration pressure Israel to make concessions in a gambit to entice Syria and Iran to a regional conference . . .''

On the face of it, this sounds an admirably hard-headed confirmation of James Baker's most celebrated soundbite on the Middle East ''peace process'': ''F - - k the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway.'' His recommendations seem intended to f - - k the Jews well and truly by making them the designated fall guys for Iraq. But hang on: If Israel could be forced into giving up the Golan Heights and other land (as some fantasists suggest) in order to persuade the Syrians and Iranians to ease up on killing coalition forces in Iraq, our enemies would have learned an important lesson: The best way to weaken Israel is to kill Americans. I'm all for Bakerite cynicism, but this would seem to f - - k not just the Jews but the Americans, too.

It would, furthermore, be a particularly contemptible confirmation of a line I heard Bernard Lewis, our greatest Middle Eastern scholar, use the other day -- that ''America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.'' To punish your friends as a means of rewarding your enemies for killing your forces would seem to be an almost ludicrously parodic illustration of that dictum. In the end, America would be punishing itself. The world would understand that Vietnam is not the exception but the rule.

It has been strange to see my pals on the right approach Iraq as a matter of inventory and personnel. Many call for more troops to be sent to Baghdad, others say the U.S. armed forces overall are too small and overstretched. Look, America is responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending: It spends more money on its armed forces than the next 43 biggest militaries combined, from China, Britain and France all the way down the military-spending hit parade to Montenegro and Angola. Yet it's not big enough to see off an insurgency confined to a 30-mile radius of a desert capital?

It's not the planes, the tanks, the men, the body armor. It's the political will. You can have the best car in town, but it won't go anywhere if you don't put your foot on the pedal. Three years ago, when it was obvious Syria and Iran were violating Iraq's borders with impunity, we should have done what the British did in the so-called ''Confrontation'' with Indonesia 40 years ago when they were faced with Jakarta doing to the newly independent state of Malaysia exactly what Damascus and Tehran are doing to Iraq. British, Aussie and Malaysian forces sent troops on low-key, lethally effective raids into Indonesia, keeping the enemy on the defensive and winning the war with barely a word making the papers. If the strategic purpose in invading Iraq was to create a regional domino effect, then playing defense in the Sunni Triangle for three years makes no sense. We should never have wound up hunkered down in the Green Zone. If there has to be a Green Zone, it should be on the Syrian side of the border.

Perhaps the Baker Commission's proposals will prove not to be as empty and risible as those leaked. But, if they are, the president should pay them no heed. A bipartisan sellout -- the Republicans cut and the Democrats run -- would be an awesome self-humiliation of the United States. And once the rest of the world figures it out, it'll be America that's the Green Zone.

From the Iraq Study Group leaks that I've heard, I've lost my enthusiasm for blogging... I hope I'm wrong about the remaining two years of W's presidency, but the administration's reaction to the ISG recommendations will be one of the first indications.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Nanny State Endures

... they have no cares about listening in to terrorists that might be phoning you up, but they sure as hell want to know whether you've been around any trans-fats

New York trans fat ban expected to pass

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- New York restaurants are lobbying the city council in hopes of overriding a ban on trans fats that is expected to pass the board of health.

The health board is scheduled to vote on a measure that would ban use of artery-clogging trans fats in the city's restaurants Tuesday, and people familiar with the issue have said it appears that the measure is likely to pass, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

However, representatives from McDonald's Corp. and other restaurants have been lobbying New York City Council member Peter F. Vallone Jr., who has said he plans to propose a similar measure to the city council, in hopes of passing a less onerous version of the measure to override the board of health's decision.

Vallone said in an interview that McDonald's officials told him they would need until July 2008 to comply with a ban on trans fat, about a year longer than would be allowed under the board of health measure.

Operators of local Burger King restaurants told the councilman that it would be difficult for them to switch cooking oils without the compliance of their parent company.

Ahhh, such is the comfort of the nanny state. Sure, everything tastes like crap, but at least you've contributed your part to reducing 0.5% of the trans-fat-related healthcare costs.

We should legalize marijuana, ban cigarettes, transfats, and religion.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, November 30, 2006

President of Iran Interviewed by Kos

President Achmidenadafjadn...errr.... President Tom (as Glenn Beck likes to call him) of the Islamic Republic of Iran recently sat down with noted leftist Moonbat Markos Zuniga "Screw Em" Moulitsas of DailyKos.

And Another Rovian Conspiracy has obtained the transcript. All apologies to Wuzzadem for plagiarizing his typically hilarious format... (if that's something that can be plagiarized.)



Kos: President Tom - Great to see you. Have you lost some weight? And it looks like your beard is fuller.... more "Guevera-esque" if I do say so myself.




President Tom: Thank you for the compliment. Before we start, I must pray.

O, Almighty God, bestow upon humanity the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers.



Kos: oookay... little weird. Uncomfortable here. But, hey... at least you're not some bible-thumping Pentecostal like that nutjob Ashcroft!

I understand you had an opening statement... would you like to go ahead with that?

Tom: Sure, thanks...

Noble Americans,

Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US interference in other countries;

Kos: WHOOOHOOO!! GIVE IT TO CHIMPY W. MCBUSHTILER!! AWWWRIGHT!!!! Oh... sorry. get carried away when you guys lower the boom on the devil. Please continue.



Tom: Thank you. Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking, while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;

And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity;

Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you.

While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.

Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.

Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.

We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.

We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples' rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.

We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.

Kos:
Okay... that's great. Now, I wanted to ask you about Iraq. Why do you think Chimpy W. McBushitler invaded that great country? Was it because of oil? His Daddy? Or just pure corporatist / fascistic greed by Cheney?

HALLIBURTON!!!!


Tom: Interesting question... a bit slanted, but interesting. I think they are all valid reasons and I have expressed them myself in international forums. It's truly unfortunate that Iraq is now such a devastated place. It's a shame that your soldiers are dying and causing so much harm to the Iraqi people. We would be more than happy to provide for the security of Iraq, but things are so complicated there. I mean... who knows where those suicide bombers and insurgents are all coming from? There's no way you can trace them, right? Am I right?

Kos: So, what do you think we should do in Iraq and in the broader Middle East?

Tom: As I mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world.

We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.

No day goes by without a new crime.

Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn't?

For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland.

You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it.

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?

Kos: That's a great point. The escalation of violence and all that. By the way, let me put on my keffiyeh here while we discuss Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.

And speaking of the US government's complicity in and blind support of the Zionist crimes... you know that I worked overtime to get rid of that Zionist in the Senate, Joe Lieberman, right? I mean, you want to talk about infiltration of the Zionists in banking, cultural, and media sectors? How about their infiltration into the US SENATE, MY FRIEND!?!

Tom: Oooh, that's a good idea. Let me put my Keffiyeh on as well. Yes, I'm a big fan of your efforts. In fact, some of those in my government and I even joined in a few anti-Lieberman discussions on your website... It was a pleasing to read such anti-zionist sentiments on your site, although some of the comments were a bit over the top. Not from my people... but from your diarists. But you know that already.

Oh, and congratulations to your recent win in the mid-terms, by the way... even if you were not able to replace that Zionist bastard with someone from the "reality-based community" to use one of your terms.

Kos: Thanks.... Can we get back to Iraq?





Tom: Sure, let's take a look at Iraq. Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq, nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.

Although Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure, the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people has persisted and has even been aggravated.

Kos: That's for sure... I mean, Abu Ghraib, man. ABU-FRICKEN-GHRAIB!!!! The torture chambers are just opened under new management, know what I mean? I mean, some of the things that are soldiers are doing over there are reminiscent of the Nazis, Pol Pot, or even Genghis Khan... you name it!



Tom: Perhaps, but let's not get carried away. Saddam was a brutal dictator.

But think about the one hundred and fifty thousand American soldiers, separated from their families and loved ones, who are operating under the command of the current US administration. A substantial number of them have been killed or wounded and their presence in Iraq has tarnished the image of the American people and government.

Their mothers and relatives have, on numerous occasions, displayed their discontent with the presence of their sons and daughters in a land thousands of miles away from US shores. American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq.

I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure.


Kos: You've got that right... those poor, illiterate soldiers who have no other option other than to join the military. It's just unbelievable how cruel and inhumane our foreign policy is on our soldiers. Even if they are dumber than a box of rocks.




Tom: And you've no doubt heard about Gitmo, right?

Where the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. God knows who these detainees actually are, and what terrible fate awaits them.

(Sure, we use similar practices and have similar facilities within our country. But, at least we're not stupid enough to let people know about them!!)

Kos: And don't get me started on renditions... and our torture policies. I mean, tickle-fights are serious business, you know what I mean?





Tom: You know what's really sad? That the US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of "the war on terror," civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death.


Kos: Man... do you have your own diary on DailyKos.com? I assume you're a regular reader, because you have got THE perspective, man... on the frickin' money on every single point!

I mean, to the reich-wingers I'm a terrorist... or unpatriotic... or whatever they say about me. They may not use those words exactly, but I know the codewords. Screw 'em is my catchline, btw. (Which reminds me... your comrades in Fallujah really did a great job on those 4 mercenaries back in the spring of 2004. Booyah!)

Anyway, I know that Chimpy W. McBushitler's surveillance of communications and finances probably makes your job more difficult and all, but we're working real hard to dismantle all of those attacks on our privacy.

Tom: Well, we have work-arounds that we're using... so, don't worry about us.

Anyway, back to Iraq...

Now that the country has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.

Kos: Those are great points... I mean, instead of killing innocent terrorists, we could be spending that money to make everyone in America rich!




Tom: Yes... I thought you would see it that way. And it would be easy, no? You know, I'd also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US:




Kos: Hey, you're talking to one of the winners!! Me and the nutroots, baby!




Tom: Ummm, yeah... But, seriously.... The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations. Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.

If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America. But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration's policies.

Kos: Yeah, I get what you're saying. We can't just be Republican-lite. I've been saying that for years, man. We've got take Chimpy W. McBushitler and Cheney down... through impeachment. HALLIBURTON!!! Then we can have Pelosi as President.



Tom: A little bit of crazy thinking by a few influential people can do wonderful things. Take Iran in 1979 for example.

Am I right or what?


Anyway, to sum up my points:
  • It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.
  • It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.
  • It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.
  • It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.
Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty. What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.

Kos: Wow... Did you get an advance copy of the Democratic legislative manifesto? (I mean, except for that weird reference to Divine Prophets.... what's that about?( I mean, Nancy & Harry have been hammering on that thing for over a year... it didn't come out in time for the mid-terms, but I guess we didn't really need any sort of platform after all, eh? Sure helps to have the media at your beck & call, know what I mean?

Tom: Oh, trust me... I'm very familiar with that concept.

Anyway, I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized, Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.

We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur'an:

Kos: Uh-oh... should I call the ACLU in here? I'm afraid I don't like to be preached to... unless it's a trans-gendered Unitarian priestess.




Tom: It'll be short.. I promise. and you probably should get used to it, anyway...

"But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him." (28:67-68)

I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success. A dignity be upon the Iraqi insurgents... and provide them with extra blessings for every soldier and mercenary that they kill in their homeland.

Kos: I guess I'm down with that. President Ahmadinejad... it's been real. If you're ever in the neighborhood, ring me up. We can put on our Keffiyeh's and hit the Applebee's or something. They've got great margaritas there..



Tom: Sorry, but I don't touch devil water. But, I'd be more than happy to speak with you again. If you could put me in touch with Nancy or Harry Reid, that'd be great. I know that, in the past, those from the more "pragmatic" political party in the US are willing to reach out to even apparent enemies in the hopes of achieving a longer lasting peace. Perhaps we can arrange something similar, eh?


Kos: Sounds great. Thanks again!








President Tom's thoughts extracted and expanded upon from his message to the American people, most verbatim.

It's always shocking that the rhetoric of our enemies mirrors that of the Left in America. And not just in matters of American foreign policy...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler