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

Saturday, February 25, 2006

State of the Black Union

Well, it was good to see that Tavis & Co had spent the year productively, developing a policy text called the Covenant with Black America. I haven't read the text (yet) as it came out today, but by the chapter titles it appears to be warmed over liberalism (increase funding for schools, right to healthcare, etc, etc). They did invite black Republicans, but only a State Senator from Oregon was able to make it. She did a good job, focusing people on the importance of families and decrying the lack of discussion in that regard.

Now, on to the interesting stuff... Harry Belafonte was lauded as a courageous leader for Black America. When it was his time to speak, he didn't disappoint:

  • He spoke of an alliance between Black America and the Venezuelan and Bolivian governments... "an alliance against a common enemy - capitalism" [can we say that Harry Belafonte is similiarly aligned with Iran? H/T Wizbang]
  • He repeated his assertion that Bush is a terrorist, to great applause from the audience
  • He questioned whether Osama was actually behind 9/11.. seriously
  • He called for revolution and asked those in attendance whether they would be willing to die to change the system.
It's great to hear a rich, black entertainer demonize the very system which has benefitted him greatly. It's going to be tough to get ahead financially when you don't believe in the capitalist system. Perhaps Harry would like to fly anyone who agress with his position to Cuba, where black Cubans are treated as second class citizens compared to their lighter-skinned brethren?

As with last year, Louis Farrakhan hijacked the show, taking control of the subject and manipulating it to benefit himself. Here are some of the highlights from Louis:
  • "AMERICA MUST BURN!!! America is no good!"
  • The educational system isn't worth a damn.
  • we don't need to be integrated into [the current system]
  • Terrel Owens is oppressed by The Man.... when you make a contract with the devil (apparently a reference to Andy Reid, head coach of the Eagles), you cannot liberate yourself.
  • "[Bush] is the Devil" - and you can't make a deal with the devil
  • Abolish the government because it and the world is run by "wicked, corrupt industrialist bankers... you KNOW what I'm talkin about?" [Yes, Louis... I've seen that language employed to disastrous effects before]

Tavis had to spend a lot of time bringing the focus of the conversation back to the Covenant, which is essentially a policy document similar to the Contract with America by Newt Gingrich. For all of the talk regarding change and a need to progress, it's interesting that the same old ideas and fundamental perspective are used.

Getting ahead in America is not rocket science and each time that I watch one of these sessions with Tavis, I'm amazed that more practical information isn't discussed. Here are some things that I would point out:
  1. Get an education
  2. Don't use drugs
  3. Don't sell drugs or commit other crimes (it's the best way to stay out of jail)
  4. Get a minimum wage job when you're young and work hard at it - have a smile on your face while you're at work and use your manners. If you keep at it, you will get promoted.
  5. Save your money when you're young
  6. Go to college (a community college or a university, whatever you can afford)
  7. Don't have a child out of wedlock - you might need to use contraception... if you don't think that's cool, don't have sex outside of marriage
  8. If you have a child (and you're the father or the mother), time to get a job and take care of the kid. Don't turn your kid over to your parents as they're ill-equipped to raise their grandkids
Follow those guidelines here in America and you'll do just fine. Unfortunately, much of our American culture (white, black, brown, & yellow) does not reinforce these points... but this is as much a problem for my kids as it is for black kids. However, I refuse to simply allow the culture to influence my kids...

The GOP has a clear policy position which addresses each item above. Unfortunately, many in the African-American community are unwilling to hear those arguments and the black leaders (like Farrakhan) preach to their consituents that they cannot trust anything that the "evil whites" say... Farrakhan made this point today. When you cannot have a conversation and start from a position of trust, how can you even get the point of listening and understanding their position? I'm always concerned when I see the most radical of black leaders receiving the loudest applause (ie Belafonte, Farrakhan, etC), but I know that the African-American community does not have a monolithic perspective on the issues... if only their leadership would recognize that fact as well.

Tavis is taking the Covenant on tour and will be in St Louis on Monday. Unfortunately, I'm leaving on Sunday to go to North Carolina, so I won't be able to attend. Check here to see if your city will be on the tour!

By the way, don't look to the Kos Kids for info on the State of the Black Union.... nothing there. And why do African-Americans think that Libs take them for granted?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Ah, For Crying Out Loud - The Ports Deal

Time for the morning venting: I'm sick of politics as usual.

I have little or no idea about the merits of the Dubai/Ports deal. I say that as the son of one of the men who had a significant hand in engineering several facilities in the Gulf. I watched for years as my dad traveled to the region to work on Kharg Isle and several plants in Saudi. I listened intently to the stories he would bring home from his travels. I even had a minor hand in some dealings there myself. I gained a passing familiarity with what was going on in the region. I know enough to know I don't know squat about this deal.

And that is about the level of expertise the President's critics have demonstrated during the last week, only I am pretty sure I am better informed than most of them.

The noise is all for political effect, and for that they should be ashamed, very ashamed.

Nothing is beyond schoolyard politics, not even international relations that are critical to our securtiy, and I am sick of it.

Just shut the *&%@ up unless you have something significant to contribute to the discussion, and for God's sake, stop flaunting your ignorance and venality.

Thank you.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

PS - Happy Birthday ARC!

My Saturday Afternoon Fatwa

Death be upon anyone who puts up wallpaper without knowing how to do so properly, forcing the new occupants to spend days and weeks peeling paper and glue painstakingly by hand, resulting in a pockmarked moonscape of a wall which has to be repaired.

Just saying...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Another Rovian Conspiracy - One Year Anniversary

Well, this blog has been in existence for just over a year.... Feb 22, 2005 was when I pulled the trigger on launching this blog and invited ARC:Brian & the secretive Penelope to join me. A few months later, MontereyJohn joined the Conspiracy and has contributed greatly to the debate. I'm certainly looking forward to another year in the blogosphere...

Thanks to our regular readers who have visited us over the past year. Thanks to those that have contributed to the debate by commenting (especially Desert Rat). This has been an experiment in blogging that took on a life of its own.

Thanks also to the following folks in the blogosphere, who have linked to us and/or added us to their blogroll, or actually interviewed us on the radio:

Thanks for finding us in the big expanse that is the blogosphere... It is the willingness and desire to hear the multitude of opinions that is what separates us from the other side.

Other Administrative Updates:
New to our blogroll:

Political Notes for Today:
  1. Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union is going to be on C-Span today at 2 pm EST (Seeing the early morning program is what reminded me of our anniversary here.... said to myself, hmmm I think I blogged on this last year! And yes, I did... at least, in reference to its monolithic, Leftist message.)
  2. Scalia's speech in which he was heckled will be on C-Span today at 7pm EST.
For those of you who are complete nerds when it comes to politics, these are must see programs.

(Wife rolls her eyes...)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Disingenuous Language of Progressives on Abortion

At least the "Progressives" are open and honest about their desire to mask and distort the true nature of procedure that is partial-birth abortion. I posted previously on how the Left and the Media prefer the medical term "Dilation & Extraction" (which I abbreviated to D&E... apparently, they prefer D&X, but I have heard D&E before) or "a certain type of late term abortion. Anyway, AlterNet has this wonderful post on what language the Left should use when debating this matter:

Talking points on the federal abortion ban
Posted by Deanna Zandt at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2006.

Stop reinforcing conservative frames loaded with distorted fallacies.

With the Supreme Court having agreed to hear the case of the previously-rejected 2003 federal abortion ban (not to mention South Dakota's banning of abortion on Wednesday), it's time we have a quick lesson in talking points about this issue. It's been frustrating for many of us to see a number of progressive folks referring to the type of abortion the ban deals with using a certain phrase that won't be repeated here. Why? Lesson #1 in sociolinguistics: using the term reinforces the frame. Sure, that's what the Republicans named their law, but it is grotesquely misleading and skews the debate away from what this ban is about: human rights, and more specifically, reproductive rights.
no explanation provided by Deanna here - apparently it's just accepted as fact that "partial birth abortion is misleading.
A slightly better alternative to the conservative, misogynist frame that has been used by some is "late-term abortion." Amie Newman noted in The Mix yesterday that this is also misleading, since "late" could also mean a blanket ban on whatever the speaker defines as "late." Too much gray area here: "late" could mean anything after the first trimester, for example.

Others have suggested that progressives should refer to the actual medical procedure that conservatives are seeking to ban -- without provisions accounting for a woman's health, which is often the only circumstance under which this procedure is performed -- called dilation and extraction, or D&X. My own opinion lies here, since referring to the acronym would free up linguistic context for talking about the woman's rights. However, a quick informal poll among friends showed me a few wrinkled noses at the word "extraction," some saying that it conjured up something just as gruesome as the forced-birth side's frame.

This isn't an exercise in the name game, either. ("This is not a test!")
Why, yes... yes it is a name game! All emphasis above is mine...
The ban that Congress is pushing through is not just dangerous to women in its existing form, but is a slippery-slope initiative paving the way towards increasing restrictions and prohibitions on reproductive freedom by demonizing women who obtain the procedure and criminalizing doctors who perform it. (It's been noted that a similar ban in Wisconsin caused doctors to stop performing all abortions.)

Thus, the floor is open to suggestions and discussion. The one thing that should be clear, as we enter this phase of debate, however, is that progressives everywhere must stop using the conservative frame -- even in "quotes" and with putting "so-called" in front of it, you're still using it! -- for good. The ban itself can be referred to as the "2003 federal ban on certain abortions" when necessary.

Ultimately, the debate about this ban ends up nitpicking various constraints and allowances about time limitations and situational factors, and ignores the larger picture: our value of, and commitment to protecting, human rights. We should all be focused on retaining our collective reproductive and privacy rights... not debating and reinforcing fundamentalist lies outlawing women from taking care of themselves.

The comments that follow show how disingenous the "progressives" are when it comes to the debate. Some suggested terms:
  • Last Month Abortion (I suspect that Deanna would still object)
  • "abortions typically performed to preserve the health or life of the mother."
  • "critical choice" abortion
  • "emergency abortions" ("Who's going to oppose emergency abortions?" according to the commenter)

Cool terminology aside
Posted by: Prometheus 6 on Feb 23, 2006 3:47 PM
It's more important to square away the argument.

You start by establishing there is no such thing as a "partial birth" abortion. Force it to be defined in medical terms. Much easier to argue "dilation and extraction procedures" as necessary medical procedures...the very dryness of the term will remove a lot of heat from the discussion.

This shows that the "progressives" recognize that their position is so radical, urging that almost fully developed babies be terminated through a gruesome procedure, that they cannot honestly debate the specifics of the procedure. They recognize that 75% of the country is opposed to such procedures, but are unwilling to allow any limits on reproductive choice fearing that giving any ground will have negative impacts in the future.

As I've said in the past, I'm personally against abortion... and I'm against Roe vs. Wade - not because I'm against abortion, but because I do not see any reference to abortion in the Constitution... But, I don't propose outlawing abortion... I propose letting the people decide the matter, through their elected representatives. This is the democratic process. If the "progressives" think that they truly have public support for their position, they should persuade their fellow citizens to allow abortions up until the 9th month.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Another Moonbat Toon from Ted Rall

Ok, I can imagine this thing getting published online, in Mother Jones, or in the People's Weekly World... but why is Ted Rall a syndicated cartoonist? He's gone absolutely batty.

If this cartoon doesn't appear, here's the link.

If he had talent as an artist or if his commentary was insightful, I'd understand it. But his artistic talent is bested by my 4 year old son and his commentary is of a similar level as well.

What percentage of the population thinks that Flight 93 was shot down? What percentage of the population thinks that Bush & Cheney are covering up about Flight 93 being shot down, apparently brainwashing family members who talked to the passengers before they stormed the cockpit, implanting the audio transcript of the attempted takeover, and entering flight data that demonstrated erratic flying before the crash (instead of a simple explosion from a missile to one or more of its engines)?

I mean, we've got to be talking about a few thousand people...1/1000 of 1% of the country - and whackjobs all. And Ted Rall gets paid to put these ideas forth in newspapers around the country.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, February 24, 2006

School Choice

This is why the NEA and the Dems are so adamantly opposed to allowing even pilot programs for school choice - because when it is clearly demonstrated to be effective, the public wants to expand it.

From today's WSJ

A School Choice Victory
February 24, 2006

After three previous vetoes, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle finally did right by inner-city school kids last week and signed on to a bipartisan compromise that would expand Milwaukee's successful school voucher program.

The 16-year-old Parental Choice Program, which provides vouchers for low-income children to attend private schools, is the nation's largest. But under current law enrollment is capped at about 15,000 students, or 15% of Milwaukee's public school enrollment. The deal being hashed out by Governor Doyle, a Democrat, and State Assembly Speaker John Gard, a Republican, would lift that cap by 50% to accommodate some 22,500 students.

This fix may seem like a no-brainer. After all, the program's success is apparent not only by its popularity but by study after study showing that vouchers have increased graduation rates and raised education standards. But until now, Governor Doyle has cared less about building on this success and more about placating a teachers union that's opposed to the competition.[...]

I suppose that all the education system really needs is more funding... and then, when that doesn't work, it'll just need some more funding... and then some more funding... ad infinitum.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Final - SERIOUSLY - Ports Post

read it:

The one guy clearly sticking to his principles is CNN's Lou Dobbs. But that's because he went bonkers a long time ago. The perfectly coiffed millionaire anchor has anointed himself the defender of Joe Sixpack, opposing every manifestation of globalization (save for CNN International, of course). He's perfected the art of the highbrow demagogue, maintaining a perpetual state of shock about how those fat cats are giving guys "like us" the shaft.

So it's not surprising that Tailgunner Lou insists that the review process that allowed the port deal to go through didn't take into account national security. Of course, for the author of Exporting America, it is axiomatic that all outsourcing, downsizing, or free-trading is against national security.

In response to the port decision, Dobbs ran one of his typically less-than-scientific online polls: "Do you believe national security should play a role in the national security review process?" He knew this was like asking "Do you think prostate exams should screen for prostate cancer?" He just didn't care.

And that's the point: Few politicians — or commentators — seem to care about the facts.

I liked Jonah's article b/c it's similar to my thinking on the issue... dumb politics, smart econ policy. Oh, and anytime Lou Dobbs is ridiculed is a good day in my opinion. He's such an idiot.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler


What a dork...

Ill. Governor Confused by 'Daily Show' Bit
Feb 24 10:47 AM US/Eastern
Email this story


Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn't in on the joke. Blagojevich says he didn't realize "The Daily Show" was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes- puzzled Democratic governor.

"It was going to be an interview on contraceptives ... that's all I knew about it," Blagojevich laughingly told the St. Louis Post- Dispatch in a story for Thursday's editions. "I had no idea I was going to be asked if I was 'the gay governor.'"

The interview focused on his executive order requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control.

Interviewer Jason Jones pretended to stumble over Blagojevich's name before calling him "Governor Smith." He urged Blagojevich to explain the contraception issue by playing the role of "a hot 17-year-old" and later asked if he was "the gay governor."

At one point in the interview, a startled Blagojevich looked to someone off camera and said, "Is he teasing me, or is that legit?"

The segment, which aired two weeks ago, also featured Illinois Republican Rep. Ron Stephens, a pharmacist who opposes the governor's rule. Stephens has said he knew the show was a comedy.

"I thought the governor was hip enough that he would have known that, too," Stephens said.

Will Blago retain his governorship? He gets the opportunity to be on Comedy Central's DailyShow which is probably supportive of his initiative and doesn't know how to take advantage of it.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler


Wow... this sounds like a fabulous time!

Lineup set for anti-war concert
NEW YORK, N.Y., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan will be the guest of honor at the "Bring 'Em Home" concert at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom.

Among the performers scheduled to play March 20 are R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, Bright Eyes, Rufus Wainwright, Fischerspooner, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Devendra Banhart and Peaches, reported.

Sheehan will address the audience at the concert noting the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Billboard said.

Janeane Garafalo will broadcast her Air America Radio show "The Majority Report" live from the concert.

Money raised by the show will go to Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace.

I may be in NY on this day... if so, I just hope they're selling tickets at the door. And don't have a dress code barring someone that looks like a Republican.

No doubt that the "chill wind" and fear of dissenting from "the Machine" is the primary reason for the lineup of b-list bands that is a mixture of "where are they now" and "who the hell are they?"

Museum of Left Wing Lunacy is covering as well... and asking for donations for travel expenses...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Feeling Productive?


Americans work more, seem to accomplish less
By Ellen WulfhorstThu Feb 23, 9:58 AM ET

Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago, according to newly released research.

Workers completed two-thirds of their work in an average day last year, down from about three-quarters in a 1994 study, according to research conducted for Day-Timers Inc., an East Texas, Pennsylvania-based maker of organizational products.

The biggest culprit is the technology that was supposed to make work quicker and easier, experts say.

"Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it's slowed everything down, paradoxically," said John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

"We never concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and then you're on to the next thing," Challenger said on Wednesday. "It's harder to feel like you're accomplishing something."

Unlike a decade ago, U.S. workers are bombarded with e-mail, computer messages, cell phone calls, voice mails and the like, research showed.

The average time spent on a computer at work was almost 16 hours a week last year, compared with 9.5 hours a decade ago, according to the Day-Timer research released this week.

Workers typically get 46 e-mails a day, nearly half of which are unsolicited, it said.

Sixty percent of workers say they always or frequently feel rushed, but those who feel extremely or very productive dropped to 51 percent from 83 percent in 1994, the research showed.

Put another way, in 1994, 82 percent said they accomplished at least half their daily planned work but that number fell to 50 percent last year. A decade ago, 40 percent of workers called themselves very or extremely successful, but that number fell to just 28 percent.

"We think we're faster, smarter, better with all this technology at our side and in the end, we still feel rushed and our feeling of productivity is down," said Maria Woytek, marketing communications manager for Day-Timers, a unit of ACCO Brands Corp.

The latest study was conducted among a random sample of about 1,000 people who work at least part time. The earlier study surveyed some 1,300 workers.

Expectations that technology would save time and money largely haven't been borne out in the workplace, said Ronald Downey, professor of psychology who specializes in industrial organization at Kansas State University.

"It just increases the expectations that people have for your production," Downey said.

First, it's not an actual study of productivity... it's a study on peoples' feelings regarding their productivity. The title should be, "Americans Work More, Feel that they accomplish less."

I submit that 30 years ago, when communicating with someone meant typing a letter and mailing it off, you felt like you accomplished something if you communicated a handful of times in a day. Today, with email and blackberries, you're much more efficient in communicating, so no one thinks anything of sending 50 emails in a day. (BTW, 46 emails a day on average and 1/2 are spam? I've got to talk to my boss about a raise, b/c I'm dealing with a lot more than that and zero unsolicited.)

All this being said, there is something to be said for having time to actually THINK during a workday. One of the things that I've been trying to do is to schedule tasks throughout the day and not answer email/phone. Instead of little chunks of each task getting done (in effect, nothing getting done), I'm able to complete tasks. Of course, I haven't been totally successful in establishing this... As with everything it takes time to plan.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Dont Make Me Get Medieval On Your Ass

At least, that is how I'd paraphrase this message from the il Papa:

Vatican to Muslims: practice what you preach
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - After backing calls by Muslims for respect for their religion in the Mohammad cartoons row, the Vatican is now urging Islamic countries to reciprocate by showing more tolerance toward their Christian minorities.

Roman Catholic leaders at first said Muslims were right to be outraged when Western newspapers reprinted Danish caricatures of the Prophet, including one with a bomb in his turban. Most Muslims consider any images of Mohammad to be blasphemous.

After criticizing both the cartoons and the violent protests in Muslim countries that followed, the Vatican this week linked the issue to its long-standing concern that the rights of other faiths are limited, sometimes severely, in Muslim countries.

Vatican prelates have been concerned by recent killings of two Catholic priests in Turkey and Nigeria. Turkish media linked the death there to the cartoons row. At least 146 Christians and Muslims have died in five days of religious riots in Nigeria.

"If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State (prime minister), told journalists in Rome.

"We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts," Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the daily Corriere della Sera.

Reciprocity -- allowing Christian minorities the same rights as Muslims generally have in Western countries, such as building houses of worship or practicing religion freely -- is at the heart of Vatican diplomacy toward Muslim states.

Vatican diplomats argue that limits on Christians in some Islamic countries are far harsher than restrictions in the West that Muslims decry, such as France's ban on headscarves in state schools.

Saudi Arabia bans all public expression of any non-Muslim religion and sometimes arrests Christians even for worshipping privately. Pakistan allows churches to operate but its Islamic laws effectively deprive Christians of many rights.

Both countries are often criticized at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for violating religious freedoms.

Ok, so not exactly something that Marsellus Wallace would say... But, at least they're bringing up the HYPOCRISY (Left has to agree with me now) of Islam. At least someone is making it an issue. Try taking a Bible (openly) into Saudi Arabia and see how long you keep your head.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ports Redux

Good op-ed in the WSJ today (subscription required) regarding the Ports issue. (For some reason, Port Whine Cheese (spelling intended) keeps popping into my head whenever I post on the subject.) This pretty much sums up my position on the matter (I'm sure that one or more of the conspirators here disagrees with me).

Here is the important bit:

There are at least three issues here. One is the specific concern about the deal itself; another is disquiet over the administration's approach to homeland security; and the last is a larger pattern of American unease about the changing global economy. What the potential deal highlights most of all is that the U.S. cannot have it both ways: We cannot both advocate a global system of free trade with low barriers of entry and then cry foul when foreign companies try to buy U.S. assets.

On the first point, what the disparate opponents have insinuated is that there is a relationship between the government of Dubai (which controls Dubai World Ports) and terrorist groups -- and that therefore the purchase of the port operator will endanger U.S. security. There are serious and legitimate concerns which must be addressed, but halting the deal is not a solution.

Dubai is rapidly becoming a major entrepĂ´t in the Middle East. Like Switzerland, it is a haven for assets owned by individuals who crave anonymity. It has become a duty-free shopping haven that actively courts global companies. It aims to become the financial hub for the region, with a new stock exchange and offices throughout the world. The ruling family currently owns property and assets across the globe -- including a minority share of the gambling and resort company Kerzner International and a controlling interest in the Essex House in New York and Madame Tussaud's of London. Dubai is, in fact, an example of global capitalism taking root in unlikely places, a hybrid cross between Miami and Singapore with a dollop of Las Vegas on the fringe of the Arabian Peninsula. And precisely for these reasons, it has as much to worry about from fundamentalist terrorism as the United States.

On the second point, the purchase allows critics to challenge the way the Bush administration has handled port security. That is an utterly crucial issue, for which the administration deserves criticism. Secure ports should never be sacrificed to economic expediency. Any port operator -- whether American, British or Arab -- must be required to prove its trustworthiness and competence to Congress (no less the American people), and be subject to utmost scrutiny and oversight or else prevented from having a prominent role in running them. In fact, security should never be sold to any company, regardless of where it is domiciled.

However, many American ports are currently operated by foreign entities, a fact which seems to have been overlooked. The port of Los Angeles has terminals run by companies from Taiwan, Denmark, Singapore and even China. The model the administration should follow is that of the airports, which are managed by private companies but whose security is the responsibility of the U.S. government. Yet while decrying the proposed sale is a way to score political points -- because the company is Arab and thus can be easily (and wrongly) equated with Islamic terrorism, and allows for revisiting a failing of the administration's homeland security policies -- it is not without considerable costs. Think of it: America says that it wants Muslim partners in its struggle against terrorism, yet politicians on both sides of the aisle are willing to tar a potential partner. The president may deserve attacking, but doing so in this way is truly cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Most troubling of all is the larger pattern of hyperbolic and xenophobic reactions against the tide of globalization. Strip away the particulars and the response to this current deal is almost identical to the reactions last summer when oil giant Unocal was nearly purchased by the Chinese company Cnooc. Then, Republican Rep. Richard Pombo warned that the deal could have "disastrous consequences for our economic and national security," while Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden noted, "Being a free-trader isn't synonymous with being a sucker and a patsy."

Then and now, the response to an economic challenge has been to raise the flag of national security to prevent foreign companies from acquiring U.S. assets. At the time of the Unocal deal, a common rejoinder was, "Well, the Chinese wouldn't let us acquire a vital asset of theirs," but then China began selling portions of its primary state-owned banks to the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. The specifics of the Dubai deal aside, there are signs that our preferred way to meet the challenge of a globalized economy is not to innovate and compete but to erect walls, invoke sovereign rights and bury our heads in the sand.

Having committed ourselves to a system and crafted its rules, we are suddenly confronted with the possibility of real competition, whether from China, India or the emirates of the Gulf. There is a debate to be had about the perils and promises of globalization, but invoking national security to block corporate sales or instituting retaliatory tariffs risks eroding both our global leadership and our economic growth. In the coming months there will be calls to label China a "currency manipulator," which may satisfy domestic discontent with the trade deficit but is unlikely to strengthen our economy or enhance our security. In the quid pro quo of international politics, other nations are likely to retaliate the only way they can: by making it more difficult and costly for U.S. companies to operate within their borders.

The concerns over national security and port security are vital and real but should not be conflated with foreign ownership or Arab ownership. Doing so undermines both our ability to craft effective security policies and the global economic system we have spent decades trying to create. The real national security question is not who owns the ports, but how to ensure that they are safe and secure. Period. The economic question is also simple: Do we really want a world where capital and goods flows freely, trade barriers are minimal, and companies can operate on a global scale? Or, do we only want that when it is convenient and comfortable? Nothing the U.S. government can do is likely to halt globalization, but in the process of trying we might unwittingly make the U.S. less competitive, more isolated -- and ultimately less secure.

I have concerns regarding the 1st item, but cancelling the deal won't have much of an impact. As Treasury Sec'y Snow said yesterday, we'll be sending a bad economic and political message if we cancel this deal.

Much of the criticism does come from items 2 and 3 (gut-level opposition to the global, free-market economy and xenophobia, respectively), and I certainly don't agree with either position. All in all, I hope the deal goes through - but not without the appropriate contractual obligations from DPW regarding scope, security issues, etc. I think that will be part of a revised agreement, but right now it looks like Congress and the punditocracy is more focused on killing the deal.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Joys of Travel

Peggy Noonan feels my pain....

If Cattle Flew
Look at the airports. Why would terrorists bother with seaports?
Thursday, February 23, 2006 12:01 a.m.

We are debating port security. While we're at it, how about airport security? Does anyone really believe that has gotten much better since 19 terrorists hijacked four planes five years ago?

This week I flew to Florida and back to give a speech and got another up-close look at how well the Transportation Security Administration is running the show. And it's clear that no one jokes about TSA screeners frisking grandma anymore, not because it isn't still happening, but rather because it's not even darkly funny anymore.

6:10 a.m., Tuesday two days ago, LaGuardia Airport. A long line of what appeared to be roughly a thousand people was snaking down a hall past newsstands and shops. Chaos and an hour wait to get through security. A woman in an airport security uniform patrolled on the left, curtly instructing us to move to the right. A cleaning crew on the right barked, "Coming through, move please!" We stood nervously wherever we wouldn't be yelled at. No one tried to help us, to calm the fears of those about to miss their flights. There was a lot of yelling--"I need your ID open and faced forward! No, you must put that in the bin!" After 45 minutes I got to the first security checkpoint, where I was directed to stand aside for extra clearance. I walked to the rubber matt, stood spread eagled in the Leonardo position, arms out, legs out, as a sleepy stranger ran a wand around my body and patted me for bombs. "Now I know how a cow feels in a cattle pen," I said. I told her how carelessly we'd been treated. She was surprised. No one told her there were a lot of people waiting in line.

I gave the speech that night, and returned the next morning to the West Palm Beach airport for the flight home. Here, at 9:30 a.m., it was worse. Again roughly a thousand people, again all of them being yelled at by airport and TSA personnel. Get your computers out. Shoes off. Jackets off. Miss, Miss, I told you, line four. No, line four. So much yelling and tension, and all the travelers in slump-shouldered resignation and fear. The fingers of the man in front of me were fluttered with anxiety as he grabbed at his back pocket for his wallet so the woman who checks ID would not snap at him or make him miss his flight.

This was East Germany in 1960. It was the dictatorship of the clerks, and the clerks were not in a good mood.

After a half hour in line I get to the first security point.

"Linfah," says the young woman who checked my ID.

"I'm sorry?"

"Linfah." She points quickly and takes the next person's ID.

"I'm so sorry, I don't understand."

Now she points impatiently. How stupid could I be?

Line Five. Oh. OK.

Ahead of me, throwing bags in bins, is a young mother with a two or three year old girl. The mother is tense, flustered. Bags, bottles, a stroller to break down and get on the conveyer belt. A security agent yelling: "Keep your boarding pass in your hand at all times." The little girl is looking up, anxious. All these yelling adults, and things being thrown. "My doll!" she says as her mother puts it quickly in a gray bin. "We'll get it on the other side!" says the mother. She grabs her daughter's hand roughly.

"Take off your sneakers!" a clerk yells.

The mother stops, hops, quickly removes her sneakers. Her daughter has already walked through the magnetometer and is wandering on the other side. She looks around: Where's mommy?

Mommy gets her sneakers in a bin, on the belt, gets through the magnetometer.

I'm relieved. Her daughter holds her mother's leg. They begin to walk on.

A TSA clerk shouts to another, "You didn't check the sneakers. You have to put the sneakers through."

The second clerk yells--"Your daughter has to go through again!"

The little girl is scared--What did I do wrong? I'm sorry, mommy.

The mother is tense, gets a look.

I lift my chin at the TSA agent, smile, and say softly, "Miss, that poor girl with the child, she is having a tough time. The little girl is scared and--"

"We are following procedures!" said the TSA agent. Her mouth was twisted in anger.

I nodded and said softly, "I know, I'm just saying--a little gentle in your tone."

She looked at my ticket and smiled.

"You have been chosen by the computer for extra attention."


"You have been chosen by the computer for extra attention."

I am almost always picked for extra screening. I must be on a list of middle aged Irish-American women terrorists. I know a message is being sent: We don't do ethnic profiling in America. But that is not, I suspect, the message anyone receives. The message people receive is: This is all nonsense. What they think is: This is all kabuki. We're being harassed and delayed so politicians can feel good. The security personnel themselves seem to know it's nonsense: they're always bored and distracted as they go through my clothing, my stockings, my computer, my earrings. They don't treat me like a terror possibility, they treat me like a sad hunk of meat.

I don't think most of us get extra screening because they think we are terrorists. I think we get it because they know we're not. They screen people who are not terrorists because it helps them pretend they are protecting us, in the same way doctors in the middle ages used to wear tall hats: because they couldn't cure you. It's all show.

I boarded my plane. Settled in, took out my notebook, wrote my notes. I turned to the man next to me. "Did you have a bad time with security?"

His eyebrows went up and he shook his head. "It's terrible," he said, in an English accent. He and his fiancé had come for a few days to southern Florida, they'd had hassles coming and going. He said, with wonder, that he was a smoker, that he always carried a keepsake, a gold cigarette lighter. Before he'd left for Florida he'd emptied it so it wouldn't light, and he showed it to the security people at the airport. They told him he couldn't take it on the flight. He asked them to send it to him, they said they couldn't, he'd have to go back to the ticket area and give it to them. But then he'd miss his flight. "It's your problem," they said. He wound up giving the lighter to an airline clerk. "An $800 lighter! Empty!" He didn't know if he'd ever see it again. He said, "It's hard when"--and he put out his hands and shook them--"you're already a bit of nervous about flying!"

It is almost five years since 9/11, and since the new security regime began. Why hasn't it gotten better? Why has it gotten worse? It's a disgrace, this airport security system, and it's an embarrassment. I'm sure my Englishman didn't come away with a greater respect or regard for America.

So we're all talking about port security this week, and the debate over the Bush administration decision to allow United Arab Emirates company to manage six ports in the United States. That debate is turning bitter, and I wonder if the backlash against President Bush isn't partly due to the fact that everyone in America has witnessed or has been a victim of the incompetence of the airport security system. Why would people assume the government knows what it's doing when it makes decisions about the ports? It doesn't know what it's doing at the airports.

This is a flying nation. We fly. And everyone knows airport security is an increasingly sad joke, that TSA itself often appears to have forgotten its mission, if it ever knew it, and taken on a new one--the ritual abuse of passengers.

Now there's a security problem. Solve that one.

The airport security gauntlet as described by Peggy is something I go through everytime I travel. I've been flying regularly from St Louis to La Guardia, Newark, or JFK for approximately 6 months now. On occassion I've had the opportunity to fly to Raleigh-Durham and have to say that the screening there is 10x better than the what I have to deal with in St Louis or New York, although it's like preferring the pain of getting a cavity filled to that of a root canal. But, my point is that the smaller airports are much easier to deal with.

One of the major problems that I find is that the screeners in the large airports are all a bunch of jackasses. They literally feel that they're doing us a favor by putting us in the extra long line when we've got a flight leaving in 30 minutes. And God forbid that you don't take off your shoes... some airports will let you walk through, some won't. Who knew that this idiot would make us all strip down and go barefoot each time we wanted to board a plane?

But I would like to say that my recent experience with security in both Ireland and the UK (two trips there in the last 6 months) has been much more pleasant than anything experienced in the US (other than perhaps Raleigh). While they also have the cattle lines funneling people to the checkpoint, they are much more agreeable and understanding of people that are not familiar with the process. As a frequent traveler, I now am essentially ready to go through before I hit the airport terminal: belt off, cell phone in bag (powered off), car keys in bag, watch off, coat off, laptop in hand, shoes untied. For those that don't travel frequently, they're dumbfounded (as Peggy was) by the directions and commands shouted by government employees.

If they were to break into staccato German, it would have a much better effect, frankly. Obeying commands by someone who has the weakest grasp of the English language, proper pronunciation, and common courtesy is quite demeaning. One of the benefits of Raleigh, Dublin, and Glasgow is that they have flat screen displays showing animations and instructions on what you need to do... This is much easier to comprehend than some yahoo walking up and down the line, whose primary responsibility in the TSA is to take the gray bins that have gone through security and move them to the front. Finally, they provide simple vending machines near the security line so you can buy an envelope and postage to send items home. Just pay for the items, put your things in the envelope, and drop it in the post box that's just a few paces up the line.

When I was in JFK, there were three entry points into the security maze... each one numbered. There were no descriptions as to what each entry point was for, so I approached one and showed my ID and boarding pass. "Wrong line, go to the next one... this is premium level," said the TSA employee whose salary I'm paying, failing to break a smile or even look me in the eyes. I head to the next line... same deal, but this is the advantage line. Keep in mind that I've just spent 8 hours on a plane from the UK which connected through Dublin.

I finally get to the appropriate entry point and show my id and boarding pass. Yep, this is the line. I start winding through the cattle yard.

the most frustrating part about this incident at JFK? THERE WAS NO ONE WAITING IN LINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The only thing that comforts me about flying is that if ANYONE tried to replicate a 9/11 hijacking, the entire group of passengers would be at their throats in about 15 seconds.

Insty & Wizbang on the subject as well. Wizbang echoes my sentiments regarding airport security - the passengers are the security.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lileks on the Politics of Ports

James Lileks has this screedblog which certainly fits my thoughts on the matter.

Do I expect the managers of the ports to start installing Al Qaeda operatives in key positions, so they can wave through all the containers with small nukes for national distribution? No. But such a scenario does not exact tax the imagination, which is why it’s such a stupendously bad idea.

It’s remarkably tone deaf. It’s possible that the Administration did some quiet polling, and asked the question “How much Arab control over American ports are you comfortable with,” and misinterpreted stunned silence as assent. It’s possible the Administration believed that this would be seen as outreach, an act of faith to solidify a Key Ally, and didn’t think there’d be much hubbub – but if that’s the case, it’s the best example of the Bubble Theory I’ve heard, and I’ve not heard much convincing evidence. Until now. The average American’s reaction to handing port control over to the UAE is instinctively negative, and for good reason. There are two basic reactions: We can’t do this ourselves? and We should trust them, why?

As for the first, the assertion that American firms were the lower bidder is unpersuasive, rather like saying that we should have outsourced the flight crew for the Enola Gay to Japanese nationals because they knew the terrain better. As for the trust issue, well, wanting port control to remain in American hands is not a matter of Arabiaphobia, any more than selling Boeing to China means you harbor deep hatred of Asians. Some things ought to be left in local hands. It seems absurd to have to make that argument in the first place. The UAE is not exactly stuffed stem to stern with pro-American individuals; the idea that the emirs will stand foursquare against infiltration by those who have ulterior motives is the sort of wishful thinking that makes buildings fall and cities empty. I’m not worried that some evil emir is putting a pinky to his monocled eye, and saying Mwah! at last I have them where I want them! I’m worried about the guy who’s three steps down the management branch handing off a job to a brother who trusts some guys who have some sympathies with some guys who hang around some rather energetic fellows who attend that one mosque where the guy talks about jihad 24/7, and somehow someone gets a job somewhere that makes it easier for something to happen.

That’s a lot of ifs and maybes. But I don’t want any ifs and maybes. You can't eliminate them all, of course, but I would rather we had a system devoted to worrying about ifs and maybes instead of adopting an official policy of Whatever.

We’re told we’re at war, and we reach back for the wartime memories we all saw in the movies and read in the novels: Yanks walking along fences with a dog, rifle on the shoulder, searchlight playing on the ground, stealthy foes ever at the perimeter. It was never that tight, of course; it was never that dramatic. But there were the constant imprecations to be vigilant, because peril lurked. That would have been undercut, perhaps, if the Roosevelt Administration had given port control to Franco.

Well, not the best analogy, perhaps. But the specifics don’t matter; arguments about the specific nature of the Dubai Ports World organization’s global reach and responsible track records don’t matter. Because it feels immediately, instinctively wrong to nearly every American, and that isn’t something that can be argued away with charts or glossy brochures. It just doesn’t sit well. Period. It’s one thing for an Administration to misjudge how a particular decision will be received; it’s another entirely to misjudge an issue that cuts to the core of the Administration’s core strength. That’s where you slap yourself on the forehead in the style of those lamenting the failure to request a V-8 in a timely fashion. Doesn’t matter whether it was a deal struck between the previous administrators and the UAE; that’s not how the issue will be seen. And it certainly doesn’t matter once the President gets all stern on the topic and insists he’ll veto any attempt to keep the deal from going through. At that point, millions of previously resolute supporters stand there with their mouths open, uttering a soft confused moan of disbelief.

On the good side: we’re probably done with Shotgungate, and the DailyKos people will start getting worried about dirty nukes smuggled in through the ports. On the dark side, for conservatives: woot, there it is – the politically inept, base-confounding, intuitively indefensible decision. Oh, it may be the right thing to do, in the end. Maybe you’re overreacting. Wait, study, read, reflect. But hope you don’t have to go on a cable show and defend it, because you’d feel greasy.

Advice to the administration: If you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot, don’t use a bazooka. You may aim for the pinky toe but there’s nothing left below the hip. The recoil should not be your first clue you grabbed the wrong gun.

My point was that while this makes economic sense and is (in the final analysis) not going to impact port security, the politics of it is remarkably idiotic.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Quote of the Day

As determined by my planner thingy...

The great rule of conudct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have as little political connection as possible...

- George Washington

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

A Certain Type of Late-Term Abortion

Which, to some on the "progressive" (and illiberal) Left is still too inflammatory, preferring the more antiseptic term "Dilation & Extraction" or just D&E. No need to use clear languages that conveys the specifics of the process... nah, Partial Birth Abortion is just a term that only those fundie nutjobs could come up with.

From CNN:

CNN) -- A challenge to a federal law banning a certain type of late-term abortion begins Monday in three states, including one where the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar state ban four years ago.

Lawsuits were filed in the fall on behalf of several abortion-advocacy organizations in federal court in three cities.

Opponents of the law say it could become the first step in a move toward abolishing abortion. Supporters say the law applies only to a specific procedure performed late in pregnancy.

Congress passed the bill -- dubbed the "Partial-Birth Abortion Act," using the nonmedical term that anti-abortion activists prefer for the procedure -- in October, and President Bush signed it into law in November.
nice "scare quotes"... not sure that the USA PATRIOT Act or other legislation gets scare quotes around their titles.
The focus of all three trials -- in federal courts in New York; San Francisco, California; and Lincoln, Nebraska -- is expected to be on whether the procedure, called by doctors dilation and extraction (intact D&E), is ever medically necessary.

During the procedure, the fetus is partially removed and its skull collapsed.
So, let me get this straight.. the "fetus" is partially removed (aka birthed) and then its skull is collapsed? hmmm, partial birth abortion sounds like a pretty accurate description to me.
The National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a handful of doctors sued in the three cities to overturn the law.

The federal government contends that it is never necessary, refuting the Supreme Court's rejection of a Nebraska law in a 2000 decision.

It's interesting that opinion polls, which are inexplicably used in other articles about court cases, are not used in this instance. Perhaps it's because this "certain type of late-term abortion" is opposed by all but the most extreme on the pro-choice side?

This op-ed from the WSJ provides the appropriate perspective (all without scare quotes!):

Partial Rebirth
February 22, 2006; Page A14

The Supreme Court jumped back into the abortion wars yesterday, agreeing to hear a challenge to lower court rulings tossing out a 2003 federal law that banned an especially gruesome late-term abortion procedure.

The case won't come close to challenging the fundamental right to an abortion that the High Court discovered in Roe v. Wade and later reinforced in Casey, which retains at least five votes of support among current Justices. But this partial-birth case (Gonzales v. Carhart) will signal whether the court is willing to rethink its opposition to even minor state regulation of abortion.

In the 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart decision, a narrow majority of five Justices overturned a state partial-birth abortion ban on grounds that it didn't include an adequate exception for the "health" of the mother. But Sandra Day O'Connor was the fifth vote in that case, and she's been replaced by Samuel Alito. New Chief Justice John Roberts also remains a mystery on the abortion question.

The 2003 federal law includes no health-of-the-mother exception, principally because "health" had become so broadly defined it was used to justify the procedure in nearly every instance [including the economic and mental "health" of the mother]. Abortion opponents say the procedure is never medically necessary to protect a woman's health. Their arguments prevailed in Congress, which passed the law with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate.

The Court could do the country a favor by overturning its recent precedent and deferring to legislative majorities that want some restraint on a practice the late New York Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan once called "just too close to infanticide."

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Update from the Conspiracy & the Politics of Ports

Well, the pace of my job (you know, the one that actually pays something) has been relentless... I travelled to the UK last week for a 1 day meeting - 2 days of travel plus jet lag for a lousy 6 hour meeting. I'm back in the home office this week for a short respite, but there doesn't seem to be much free time.

Karl is clearly asleep at the switch. I'm sorry, but this is one of those instances where good economics does not equal good politics. Even if there is a zone of protection which the UAE-owned company won't be able to influence and EVEN IF there is ZERO impact to national security, this whole deal is a big fat, hanging curveball right across the plate of the two Senators from New York.

I can't believe Karl let this pass... and didn't even bring in the B-team (ahem, that'd be us) to handle it. ;-)

Perhaps this is a bone to the Middle Eastern countries, to show that the US is a great partner and doesn't connote Islam with Terror automatically. But, perhaps the ports should be the last bone to throw... perhaps there's some miniature golf course that they could've turned over to them to start with instead.

This Chicago Tribune op-ed is just an example:

The Bush administration won't offer details about the security assessment of the firm. "We make sure there are assurances in place, in general, sufficient to satisfy us that the deal is appropriate from a national security standpoint," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Sunday.

When the Tribune editorial board on Thursday pressed Treasury Secretary John Snow for justification of this deal, he said, essentially: You'll have to trust us. Given the critical nature of these ports and legitimate concerns about seaport vulnerability to terrorist infiltration, "trust us" is not good enough. Nor is it reassuring to Americans that the White House considers the UAE, a federation of seven emirates including Dubai, an ally in the war on terror.

The proposed sale could have been blocked by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which includes representatives from the departments of Defense, State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security. The committee reviewed the sale and satisfied itself that it would not endanger national security. But because the details of its deliberations are classified, the administration refuses to disclose how it came to that conclusion.

There are big questions about this. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the terms the committee applied for approving this takeover don't go far enough. "They relate entirely to how the company carries out its procedures," he said, but don't go to "who they hire, or how they hire people." Left unanswered is how this company will "guard against infiltration by Al Qaeda or someone else [or] how are they going to guard against corruption," said King.

This isn't about foreign ownership. The company operating these ports now is foreign-owned. Under British or UAE control, American longshoremen will continue to work the docks. This also isn't about the competence of Dubai Ports World to manage American ports. The company insists that it intends to maintain and enhance port security.

This is about the long war on terror and the assurance that U.S. ports will be secure when they are managed by a firm owned by a government in one of the most volatile parts of the world. The administration says this deal won't compromise security. But the secret nature of the process has left many people with a lot of questions and no answers.

The Politics of Ports (wine, cheese, or actual) just isn't a winner... Add to this the fact that Shumer et al were already on Dept Homeland Security for "not securing our ports" and it doesn't take a brilliant political strategerist to figure out that this isn't a winner.

And by the way, if only the Left were as critical of their own like the Right has been critical of this administration. If you want diversity of opinion, you might have to turn that steering wheel to the right...

Check out Malkin

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Great Steyn... but when is it not?

From Mark Steyn's column in the Chicago Sun-Times, commenting on, among other things, the media's fascination with Cheney's hunting accident.

The third jolly event of the week was those other excitable fellows -- the Big Media White House reporters -- jumping up and down shouting "Death to Dick Cheney!" NBC's David Gregory, the George Clooney of the press corps, was yelling truth to power about why the Elmer-Fudd-in-gun-rampage story was released to "a local Corpus Christi newspaper, not the White House press corps at large.'' I know how he feels. I remember, like, four or five years ago -- early September, maybe second week -- there was this building collapse in New York and I had to learn about it from the TV because this notoriously secretive paranoid administration couldn't even e-mail me a timely press release. For an NBC guy discovering that some hicksville nowhere-burg one-stop-light feed-price sheet got tipped off before he did is like a dowager duchess turning up at the royal banquet to discover the scullery maid's been seated next to the queen.

Priceless. Keep reading.

So anyway David Gregory's going bananas and yelling "I will yell!" and "Don't be a jerk!" at the White House press secretary, and there's more smoke coming out of his ears than from Ronald McDonald in Lahore, and I'm thinking, you know, maybe Karl's latest range of Rovebots that he planted in American media corporations are just a wee bit too parodically self-absorbed to be plausible. And then this lady pipes up and asks, "Would this be much more serious if the man had died?"

Sshh. That's secret operation "Make the press look banana's" in operation. It took 8 whole hours to cook it up.

Well, maybe. And maybe it would be even ever so much more serious still if, after peppering him with birdshot, Cheney had dragged him into a safe house in the Sunni Triangle and decapitated him with a rusty scimitar while shouting "Allahu Ahkbar!" and then sold the video to al-Jazeera.

Yeah, maybe. As always "read the whole thing."

Your Co-Conspirator
ARC: Brian

Rumsfeld's new Special Operations Plan...

Glenn at Instapundit highlights a WSJ article on Rumsfeld's new plan for special operations forces.

Under Mr. Rumsfeld's plan, special-operations forces would work in small teams, fanning out to remote corners of the globe to live with, train and advise indigenous security forces battling terrorists. Troops also would gather intelligence and build relationships with locals over the course of months and years.
As Glenn mentions, "indirect action" is mentioned 11 times.

Is this sort of a Peace Corps with guns?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian