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

Saturday, February 18, 2006

VDH on Iran

My favorite California Democrat spells it out (and as always, puts things into perspective):

Why No Nukes for Iran?
The rules of the game

How many times have we heard the following whining and yet received no specific answers from our leaders?

"Israel has nuclear weapons, so why single out Iran?"

"Pakistan got nukes and we lived with it."

"Who is to say the United States or Russia should have the bomb and not other countries?"

"Iran has promised to use its reactors for peaceful purposes, so why demonize the regime?"

[...]
We can argue all we want over the solution — it is either immoral to use military force or immoral not to use it; air strikes are feasible or will be an operational disaster; dissidents will rise up or have already mostly been killed or exiled; Russia and China will help solve or will instead enjoy our dilemma; Europe is now on board or is already triangulating; the U.N. will at last step in, or is more likely to damn the United States than Teheran.

Yet where all parties agree is that a poker-faced United States seems hesitant to act until moments before the missiles are armed, and is certainly not behaving like the hegemon or imperialist power so caricatured by Michael Moore and an array of post-September 11 university-press books. Until there is firm evidence that Iran has the warheads ready, the administration apparently does not wish to relive the nightmare of the past three years in which striking Iran will conjure up all the old Iraqi-style hysteria about unilateralism, preemption, incomplete or cooked intelligence, imperialism, and purported hostility toward a Muslim country.

In the greatest irony of all, the Left (who must understand well the nightmarish scenario of a fascist Iran with nuclear weapons) is suddenly bewildered by George Bush's apparent multilateral caution. The Senate Democrats don't know whether to attack the administration now for its nonchalance or to wait and second-guess them once the bombs begin to fall.

Either way, no one should doubt that a nuclear Iran would end the entire notion of global adjudication of nuclear proliferation — as well as remain a recurrent nightmare to civilization itself.

The excuses he points to in the opening are very similar to the comments we've received.

One thing is for sure, the Dems will not offer their solution to the problem, because it will either tick off their anti-military base (who decry our possession of nukes, but don't seem to have a prob with Iran's pursuit of them) or be simply an echo of the administration's current position. It's a shame that the Dems could not leave questions of foreign policy at the waters edge when it came to Iraq and the WOT, because Bush can be sure that whatever steps he takes will be met with criticism from Americans who are supposed to be on his side.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Duh Mayor turns down a quarter of a billion dollars...

So imagine you are the mayor of a big city. Your dad used to run the city. He was such an influence on city and national politics that they named the plaza outside city hall with your fathers last name. You've got various looming budget crises, for which members of your government are crafting stupid solutions. Your faced with corruption problems in your administration involving money management.

So along comes an organization that wants to spend $250 million dollars in your city in 2008. And what do you tell them? No thanks.

AP) CHICAGO Thanks but no thanks.

That's Chicago's answer to an invitation to submit a bid to host the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The Republican National Committee said yesterday that Chicago and 30 other cities were selected to submit bids explaining why they'd be a good choice to host the 2008 convention.

But a spokeswoman for Mayor Richard Daley says City Hall isn't interested.

Jackie Heard says city officials are more focused on whether to pursue a campaign to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Chicago hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1996.

Pardon me, but wouldn't your case for the 2016 Olympics be better if you were able to pull off a measly RNC convention? Infrastructure for the RNC convention is pretty minimal, compared to the Olympics.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Friday, February 17, 2006

China: Freedom of the Press?

Like my co-conspirator, I too am blogging from an undisclosed, large airport in the Northeast... and suffering from jet lag during my 5 hour layover here. This was a brutal trip and I have to say that it's difficult staying on top of things from across the pond. It's difficult since there are only a few, slanted stories about what's happening in the US. I just wish my hotel had wifi or lan connections in the rooms rather than simply offering wifi in their lobby(at $25 per day, not including 17% in taxes).

Could it be that the ChiComs will slowly move towards political freedom as well as economic freedom? This story from the Scotsman prompted this post (visit BugMeNot for login info):

Banned Chinese paper reprieved
BENJAMIN ROBERTSON IN BEIJING

THE Chinese Communist Party is to revive a provocative publication it closed down less than a month ago - minus its two outspoken editors.

The revival of Freezing Point, published inside the influential China Youth Daily, comes after this week's publication of a letter signed by 13 senior Communist Party members, including a former secretary of Mao Zedong, condemning the decision to close the weekly supplement and calling on the government to "demolish every method of news censorship".

Revealing deep divisions within the ruling Communist Party over the media's role in China, yesterday's decision is believed to be unprecedented and may signal a new phase in media openness.

The move to reopen Freezing Point, originally closed by the powerful propaganda department, would have been made under pressure from the senior leadership.

The move could also be aimed at China's critics in the United States Congress, who this week held hearings to discuss China's monitoring of the internet.

It is not yet clear, however, whether the new issue, set to be launched in March, will maintain its hard-hitting, investigative format.

Previously known for their willingness to tackle controversial topics, including rural poverty and AIDS patients, the founding editor, Li Datong, and his deputy, Lu Yuegang, are being moved to the newspaper's research department. Saying that "this exterminates the soul of Freezing Point, leaving an empty shell", Mr Li told The Scotsman that he would fight the move.

Suspended in late January after printing an essay by Professor Yuan Weishi criticising nationalistic history textbooks, Freezing Point was one of several publications to be censured in the past three months. Since the end of last year, the Beijing News, Southern Metropolitan Daily and the Public Welfare Times have all lost editors.

The next issue of Freezing Point will run a rebuttal of the textbook essay.

Oh, nevermind... they're just kicking out the two hard-hitting editorialists and are going to include an essay that is counter to the op-ed that was the reason for the paper being shut down in the first place.

So, where is the media openness here? While it's great that they're re-opening the paper, it's a shame that the ChiCom government will have greater influence in the new venture.

As I've commented in the past, this issue will come to the fore in the near future and when it does, I don't expect that the result will be pretty. That's why I'm long on India (and the Anglosphere in general).

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The conspiracy theories....

Blogging from an undisclosed location in a major US airport awaiting my very full flight back to home.... I decided to check out firedoglake. Otherwise known as FireDogLake: CSI.

We knew it would be inevitable, but the vitriol in various blogs (and even from some in the media) against the Vice President is astounding. Over at firedoglake, they have:

Assumed a coverup with the WH doctors....

Dr. Kirk James Murphy, from the comments: WHY IN THE HELL DIDN'T THE WHITE HOUSE DOCS SEND THE TRAUMA VICTIM TO THE NEAREST TRAUMA HOSPITAL?

Hi folks -

This stinks to high heaven - even in Texas.

Confused a shotgun injury with a "severe gunshot wound"
Q: What variable determines survival after severe gunshot wounds to the head, neck, and torso?

A: How long it takes the trauma victim to receive trauma center care (or the equivalent).

Blamed the local sheriff office for "bungling" an investigation simply because it found what they didn't want it to find.
An overabundance of Chief Wiggams in Kenedy County have now bungled the investigation and stalled it until everyone got a chance to get their stories straight, but fortunately these people are so accustomed to lying without challenge they don't do it very well.


And are using "Google Earth" as definitive terrain mapping for the region to determine if Cheney (as well as the victim!) is lying in his story of the incident.
Don't know if any of your other readers noticed this but the Sheriff included the approximate GPS coordinates of where he was told the shooting took place according to the group (N26 56.352 W97 50.42). I plugged those into Google Earth and it comes up in South Texas rural area. I was only able to zoom into and measure from what looks like the only road near the incident. In every measurement I took the road is from 450 to 550 feet from where the incident happened. According to the report the women were in the car on this road and were pretty far away. In the report Cheney also notes that Whittington was at a lower elevation than him, and that's why he got hit in the face. From the GPS coordinates given I did a 100ft circle around that to see the changes in elevation and they are less than 1 Foot.

They even want to do their own investigation, but from the air!
Maybe some of your other readers can get better access to or have more experience with satellite data. Someone could also do a flyover of the exact coordinates given if they have time.
Sorry, as a certificated pilot, there's no way someone can tell a height difference of 3 feet over a 30 yard space. That's "flat" from almost any height.

So I might as well ask the question... Is a hunting incident an impeachable offense?
More to follow.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Looks like someone wanted their own airforce

From the anchorage daily news comes this story (H/T Avweb)

Feds truck in seized jets from Valley to Anchorage

STRANGE SIGHT: Aircraft now in secure location, officials say.

By LISA DEMER
Anchorage Daily News


Long before sunup Sunday morning, federal authorities trucked a convoy of seized fighter jets from Palmer to Anchorage.

It was a strange sight to the few drivers in downtown Anchorage around 5 a.m.: a line of flatbed trucks, each carrying an L-39 jet, wings still attached and extending over two or three traffic lanes.

The FBI seized a fleet of Czech fighter planes after raids of Security Aviation Inc. hangars Feb. 2 in Palmer and Anchorage as well as the Midtown offices of Mark Avery. The Anchorage attorney owns the company and a slew of related businesses.

The FBI turned the jets over to the U.S. Marshals Service. Marc Otte, acting chief deputy for U.S. Marshals in Anchorage, confirmed the many eyewitness reports that the planes were moved and said they are now in a safe, secure location in Anchorage. He would not disclose that location.

"The Marshals Service takes care of assets no matter where they go," Otte said.

State troopers escorted the convoy from the Valley, turning the duty over to Anchorage police at the Knik River bridge, said Lt. Paul Honeman, Anchorage police spokesman.

"All of Fifth Avenue and C Street were totally blocked," said Randall Lorenz, an aircraft mechanic who saw the planes as he headed to work around 5 a.m. Sunday. The road wasn't closed, but there was no way around the planes, he said.

A principal in Avery's businesses, Rob Kane, has been charged with illegal possession of two rocket launchers, and a federal investigation is continuing.

Having L-39 fighter jets isn't illegal, nor is it very expensive. There's a very nice looking one for sale on ASO for $179,000. Here are some pictures. They usually come from eastern europe, are refurbished here in the states, and delivered to wealthy buyers who like to play fighter pilot on the weekend.

Which makes me wonder what the FBI was in the middle of discovering. And the more important question, will the Marshall service let me test fly one?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Chalk One Up for the Bad Guys at Illinois

This is vile and cowardly. Shame on The University of Illinois.

In today's Post-Dispatch.


Daily Illini suspends editors over cartoon By ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, Feb. 14 2006 URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, ILL.Two high-ranking editors of the
student newspaper at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were suspended
Tuesday after they decided on their own to run some of the controversial
cartoons that have sparked protests and outrage from Muslims around the
world.Acton Gorton, the editor in chief of the Daily Illini, and Chuck
Prochaska, the opinions editor, said they stand behind their decision to print
cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that were originally published by a Danish
newspaper."I think it's unfortunate because what we did for our readership was
something that most newspapers were scared to do," said Prochaska, 20, a junior
from a suburb of Chicago. "I think Acton and I made a brave decision to publish
the cartoons."Many newspapers, including the Post-Dispatch, have not reprinted
the cartoons. Since the Daily Illini published the cartoons Thursday, the paper
has received criticism from readers, Muslim groups and Chancellor Richard
Herman, who wrote a letter to the editor.The editors have been suspended with
pay for about two weeks, pending an investigation by a task force of senior
members of the newspaper.Mary Cory, the newspaper's publisher, who has received a steady stream of complaints from student staff members, said that it appears
that the two editors "intentionally stifled any opportunity for discussion and
went ahead with printing it on their own." While the editor in chief has the
final say on content, she said it is also the editor's obligation to engage
other editors and staff members in "rigorous discussion and debate of sensitive
content."The Daily Illini is owned and operated by the Illini Media Company, a
nonprofit organization that is independent of the university. On Monday, the
newspaper's editorial board apologized to the Muslim community and its readers
for Gorton and Prochaska's actions. The editorial said that the two editors did
not consult the editorial board, the editorial adviser or the publisher of the
paper in their decision, which it characterized as the "the callous bravado of a
renegade editor in chief.""We want to make it clear that while we do not
necessarily disagree with the decision to print these cartoons, we disagree with
how they were run," the editorial said.Gorton and Prochaska are also on the
editorial board and wrote a dissenting editorial saying that outlets like the
New York Times and Washington Post have been "irresponsible" in not publishing
the cartoons. They said they will not apologize or resign.Gorton, 25, a senior
from Carbondale, Ill., said the piece ran as his opinion and not that of the
newspaper. He also claimed that other members of the editorial board saw the
page before it went to press and didn't say anything.By printing the cartoon, he
said, he had hoped that "readers could look at the cartoons and see if it
justified the amount of violence that they see on the television."Most members
of the newspaper staff have been angry with him, he said, telling him he didn't
take their safety into account.Prochaska added that the majority of the 300-plus
e-mails sent to the opinions page have been supportive of the decision to print
the cartoons.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From the Mayor of Tall 'Afarr. Iraq - Don't Look for this in the New York Times

This is totally incredible and needs no editorializing from me.

Thanks to The Mudville Gazette.

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall’ Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.

To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.

To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi’s followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zumar and Avgani finally destroyed them.

I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism.

The leaders of this Regiment; COL McMaster, COL Armstrong, LTC Hickey, LTC Gibson, and LTC Reilly embody courage, strength, vision and wisdom. Officers and soldiers alike bristle with the confidence and character of knights in a bygone era. The mission they have accomplished, by means of a unique military operation, stands among the finest military feats to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and truly deserves to be studied in military science. This military operation was clean, with little collateral damage, despite the ferocity of the enemy. With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.

God bless this brave Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget. To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead, but alive, and their souls hovering around us every second of every minute. They will never be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child, and in every flower growing in this land. Let America, their families, and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life.

Finally, no matter how much I write or speak about this brave Regiment, I haven’t the words to describe the courage of its officers and soldiers. I pray to God to grant happiness and health to these legendary heroes and their brave families.

NAJIM ABDULLAH ABID AL-JIBOURI
Mayor of Tall ‘Afar, Ninewa, Iraq



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Iraqis Increasing Their Contribution

The USAToday has this good news from Iraq, although you don't get the editorializing that normally comes from a news story that talks about bad news in Iraq.

Here's the article:

U.S. role in Iraq security shifting
Handoff of combat duties picks up

By Rick Jervis
USA TODAY

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military says 40% of Iraq's combat battalions are effective enough to have taken the lead role in fighting the insurgency, a key measure for determining when U.S. forces can withdraw.

The U.S. military expects to complete the handover of responsibility to nearly all of Iraq's army by the end of the year, meaning Iraq's military will rely on U.S. troops primarily for logistical support and for providing airstrikes and heavy artillery. The main fighting will be conducted by Iraqis.

“When all Iraqi combat battalions own their own battle space, the map of Iraq will be covered,” said Lt. Col. Michael Negard, a military spokesman. Battle space refers to the area of responsibility assigned to a military unit.

Currently, 40 of Iraq's 102 battalions have taken over security in the areas where they operate, Col. James Greer, chief of staff for the U.S. military command responsible for training Iraqi troops, said in an interview.

The goal is to build 110 combat battalions. A typical Iraqi battalion, the army's basic fighting unit, has 700 to 800 soldiers.

“It's an essential part of the broader strategy,” said Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

With American troops in more of a support role, they will be less visible and not as susceptible to attack, Cordesman said. “But you won't have a situation where Iraqi battalions come on line and U.S. troops leave the next week.”

About 137,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq.

The pace at which the U.S. military has handed control to Iraqi battalions has picked up during the past year, Greer said. In March 2005, there were only three battalions manning their own areas — all in Baghdad, he said.

The Iraqi army is taking control in contested areas, such as parts of Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra. “We're not just giving them the easy areas,” Greer said.

The turnover raises questions about whether the United States is handing responsibility to the Iraqi army before it is ready, said Andrew Krepinevich, a military expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“If they're not ready to provide security, there could be a regression,” Krepinevich said.

Some military units are aligned with religious and political factions. Handing over responsibility too quickly could result in arming soldiers more loyal to factions than the national government, he said.

Last month, the U.S. military handed over an area of operation to an entire Iraqi army division in Qadissiya and Wassit provinces, south of Baghdad.

Currently, there are 227,000 Iraqi security forces, which include 106,000 military troops and 121,000 police officers, according to the U.S. military. Greer says recruitment of army cadets has been steady.

The number of trained security forces is not as good a measure of progress as the capabilities of combat units, Greer said. “The battle spaces where Iraqis have actually taken over (are) more of a measure of success,” he said.

Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. general in the Iraq region, said last month that U.S. commanders must overcome their reluctance to turn over control to less-experienced Iraqi forces.

“There is always a risk in taking a chance on the people that you've come to help,” Abizaid said. “There's also a risk of condescension (when) you look at them and say, ‘They're not ready.' ”

A couple of points:
1 - We went from 3 battalions capable of handling security for their regions to 40 in one year. As the professional Iraqi military continues to grow, the number of capable battalions will continue to increase dramatically. I think my troop number prediction for y/e 2006 might be just about right...

2 - Note that now that we're handing over control to the Iraqi military, the US is being criticized for doing it too quickly. Interesting, eh?

3 - Note that these guys are getting the tough sections of the country. What impact will there be on the insurgency, when they are seen by their neighbors as killing their Iraqi friends serving in the Iraqi military? (The key to that last sentence was that the word "American" and "US" did not appear anywhere.)

3 - The number of Iraqi forces will exceed the number of US forces in Iraq this year. It's probably a year too late in my opinion, but I will admit that it is difficult to create a professional service from scratch.

I'm traveling this week, so I'll have more from USA Today (and probably something from this paper as well). However, I found this story on the front page and thought it was worth a mention.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, February 13, 2006

He's Back... oh swell...

Back from my undisclosed location and ready to go. (Go where? Ah, never mind.)

Couple fun things turned up today:

Headline:

Cheney Shoots Lawyer: Senator Leahy in Hiding.

Then there was this:



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

I suppose I should expect better logic from Ted Rall, but he keeps reinforcing my opinion of him.

Here is his cartoon for today:


Ted is playing a bit of relativism here... Let me give Ted a little perspective:

  • The US used nukes in a declared war against an enemy which promised to turn its civilian population into suicidal fighters, promising millions in US casualties . The US does not use its weapons gleefully.
  • Iran seeks nuclear weapons for the express purpose of using them to wipe Israel off the map.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, February 12, 2006

On Global Warming and the Hockey Stick - Redux

H/T Just One Minute

It's good to see that the scientific community is finally - finally!!! - going to revisit the methods and assumptions that went in to the creation of this graph on average temperatures from centuries ago:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
(The red line represents a warmer medieval period, the blue represents a consistent temperature over centuries, followed by a huge temp increase in modern times - and is promoted by the greens worldwide as evidence of global warming.)

Here's an excerpt from the WSJ article:

Academy to Referee Climate-Change Fight
Scientists' Group Agrees To Congressional Request to Study Temperature-History Charting
By ANTONIO REGALADO
February 10, 2006; Page B4

Seeking to resolve a scientific dispute that has taken on a rancorous political edge, the National Academy of Sciences said it had agreed to a request from Congress to assess how well researchers understand the history of temperatures on earth.

The study by the academy, an independent advisory body based in Washington, will focus on the "hockey stick," a chart of past temperatures that critics say is inaccurate. The graph gets its name because of the sudden, blade-like rise of recent temperatures compared with past epochs.

The controversy took a sharp political turn in July when Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, launched a probe into the work of three climate specialists who generated the graph, including Michael Mann, now a professor at Pennsylvania State University.

Mr. Barton's inquiry drew a rebuke from several scientific societies as well as fellow Republican Sherwood Boehlert of New York, chairman of the House Committee on Science, who called it a blatant effort to intimidate global-warming researchers.

Over a year ago, two Canadians (who've been viciously attacked as being pawns of the oil industry) discovered that the data used by the scientist that created the graph had some issues... They saw that the data showed that the Earth was much warmer centuries ago (which they refer to as the Medieval Warming Period), which therefore pointed to the possibility that the Earth has cyclical variations in temperature which are normal. Thus, the sharp upward trend shown in the graph above (which the two Canadians are not disputing) could be explained by this natural phenomenon. But for some reason, Mann (the scientist that did the original research on the temperatures from centuries ago) felt that it was important to skew these temperatures and normalize them - so that the temp increase in modern times became all the more striking.

One of the most damning quotes which came out of the controversy was from this Global Warming researcher:
"With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. so one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period."
D. Deming, Science 1995


I posted on this last year
, but here's the powerpoint of the presentation that these two researchers gave to an audience in Washington, D.C. which covers the subject in some detail. There are several other articles of interest (such as this one) which are a bit more technical, and I'll see if I can dig them up and post them here as well.

The net here is that the scientific community is finally going to act like scientists and do some validation of findings that have been presented to them. Who would have thought that the hockey-stick graph would be accepted purely on faith by scientits? I suppose that, like all humans, if something looks like it will conform to our preconceived notions on a topic, it must be accurate.

Oh, and if you're interested in having a real impact on the lives of people worldwide, forget slowing the increase in temperature by 1/4 of a degree over 20 years.... check out the efforts of the Copenhagen Consensus, where economists identify other causes that have a better return for the costs involved (ie potable drinking water, eliminate disease, malnutrition, etc, etc).

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler