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

Friday, April 21, 2006

ARC Follow-Up - Bill O'Reilly Is Still a Pinhead

Tonight on the Another Rovian Conspiracy Follow-Up, Bill O'Reilly is still a pinhead. His previous pronouncements that high oil/gasoline prices have nothing to do with supply/demand are proved to be demonstrably false.

My refutation from the other day that much of the increase in gasoline had to do with the annual spring bump in price caused by the switchover to the summer formulations which always causes disruptions in supplies as refineries try to keep up with demand. I also list other factors that O'Reilly refuses to acknowledge, instead perpetuating the myth that oil prices are the result of some conspiracy of "speculators" (should we refer to them as World Bankers, Bill?) bidding up the price of oil...

Take this story from the Philadelphia Daily News:

Pumps go dry at some gas stations
Problems at refineries have disrupted some supplies.
AAA warned that problems could continue for weeks - and drive prices higher.
By Harold Brubaker, Edward Colimore and Marc Schogol
Inquirer Staff Writers

As if rising prices weren't enough, the tanks have run dry at some Philadelphia-area service stations in the last few days as the refining industry stumbles through a change in the formulation of gasoline.

Oil refiners are phasing out a petrochemical [aka MTBE] that makes gasoline burn cleaner but which also has been found to contaminate groundwater. Refiners are switching to corn-based ethanol [as the additive].

The changeover is creating supply-chain bottlenecks because much work must be done at fuel terminals and service stations to handle ethanol.

The maintenance-related shutdown of one area refinery, production problems at another, and the change from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline are exacerbating the problems.

"There is truly a dearth of supply in the Philly and New York markets today," Wayne Hummel, of Liberty Petroleum L.L.C., said yesterday. His firm supplies 40 stations in the Philadelphia region.

Hummel said four Liberty stations had run out of fuel the last two days, as tanker trucks drove from terminal to terminal, unable to find fuel. "It's ugly. It's very ugly," he said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic warned drivers yesterday that gasoline-supply disruptions could continue for the next few weeks and contribute to higher pump prices.

The group said the average gasoline price in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs had climbed 52 cents a gallon - or 22 percent - to $2.85 since the most recent upturn began on March 7. In South Jersey, yesterday's average was $2.71 a gallon, an 18 percent increase from a month ago. A key benchmark price for crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday was $71.95 a barrel, up more than $10 from a month ago.

Catherine Rossi, spokeswoman for AAA, said she knew of eight stations in the region that were out of fuel yesterday.

Areas of Virginia and Texas, also going through the ethanol conversion, have experienced similar supply disruptions, said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores.

Locally, gas retailers said scheduled deliveries had been late - sometimes up to a day or more - causing them to turn customers away.

Lou Stiles' Sunoco service station in Mount Laurel ran out of gas at least four times this month. Yesterday afternoon, he ran out of regular and was waiting for a tanker.

This just in... Bill O'Reilly is still a Pinhead.

And now for tonight's Talking Points Memo....

[Is that pithy enough for you, Bill?]

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Kelo, Chinese Style

I've long wondered whether China will ever be able to make a peaceful transformation to democracy. Given Hu Jintao's speeches this week, it's clear that the political leadership has no intention of recognizing the inalienable rights of its citizens.

Q Thank you, sir. President Hu, when will China become a democracy with free elections?
PRESIDENT HU: I don't know -- what do you mean by a democracy? What I can tell you is that we've always believed in China that if there is no democracy, there will be no modernization, which means that ever since China's reform and opening up in the late 1970s, China, on the one hand, has vigorously promoted economic reform, and on the other, China has also been actively, properly, and appropriately moved forward the political restructuring process, and we have always been expanding the democracy and freedoms for the Chinese citizens.

In the future, we will, in the light of China's own national conditions and the will of the Chinese people, continue to move ahead the political restructuring and to develop a socialist democracy, and we will further expand the orderly participation of the Chinese citizens in political affairs so that the Chinese citizens will be in a better position to exercise their democratic rights in terms of democratic supervision, democratic management, and the democratic decision-making.

Translation: "We'll take things slowly and in the end the people we'll have a one-party democracy."

Unless the Chinese party leadership comes to this realization, I see major upheaval in the coming decades and there are early signs that those left behind in the modernization of China (or more accurately, those that are being crushed by the government in order to move the country forward) are starting to fight back. Even the Chinese government estimates that there were over 150,000 protests by its citizens last year.

There's this story from Skynews, which outlines how the Chinese government is seizing property from poor farmers in order to clear the way for new developments. Click here for the video report:
China Promises Probe
Updated: 19:12, Thursday April 13, 2006

The Chinese government has reacted to a Sky News special investigation exposing the human cost of China's booming economy.

An official spokesperson has agreed to investigate the injustices revealed by Sky News.

Our reporting team managed to take rare footage of people being forced out of their homes to make way for new developments.

Many of the victims are now living in tents on the land where their homes once stood.

An official Chinese government spokesperson has responded to the pictures, admitting they are not good for China's image in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics.

"I will not deny that it happens in China, but I do think they're individual cases," said Counsellor Zhang Lirong.
Spokesman Zhang Lirong
Spokesman Zhang Lirong

"China is in a period of rapid economic development and there are many problems that we face," he continued.

He promises that officials who do not act according to the law will be punished.

The local media is afraid to report what has been happening but the people affected have spoken out.

One woman said: "They're stealing our homes, it's theft, just theft. The poor have no human rights, no way of surviving. We've been everywhere for help."

Other film shows villagers being ousted from their land, with groups of hired thugs attacking residents and meeting stiff resistance.

While many of the poor now live in slums, property developers and government officials are making huge sums of money from China's property boom.

There is a land grab on an unprecedented scale and the full force of the state is being used to stop any opposition.

This is one of the problems with communism... when you have no private property or are completely dependent on the government, your very existence could be determined by the whims of some government bureaucrat. Or worse (in the case of China) the whims of a government bureaucrat who also happens to sit on the board of a "private" company. And, to you moonbats out there, don't compare the Chinese situation to the "corporate dominated US." When Donald Trump and other real estate developers start evicting people by gunpoint and those that resist go to prison camps, we'll talk.

I also recently watched two parts of this CBC program called China Rises. It seemed to be a great series on China's transformations, exposing the environmental destruction that is rampant throughout China and the sociological changes that are happening there. (Again, to you moonbats out there, if you think environment destruction is terrible in the US, check out your history.)

As I've stated in the past, I'm much more optimistic about India's future than China's. While both are going to have difficulties incorporating their poor into the transformation, at least with India the foundations required for a successful free market economy are already in place. Or, as Baghwati puts it:
The Chinese rulers cannot face up to the fact that their antidemocratic structures are at the heart of the problem of increasing rural unrest; they cling to the self-serving view that economic inequality is the cause.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Ninth rides again....

When does a person's first amendment rights end? Sure there are the usual exceptions, shouting fire in a crowded theater, slander, libel, etc. But what about when you might damage another person's self-esteem?

Well the 9th circuit Court of Appeals, has essentially ruled that another student's (who apparently must be in some sort of minority group) right to self-esteem trumps a students right to express disagreement with a school sponsored event.

Eugene Volokh provides excellent analysis of this terrible decision (all emphasis mine):

Tyler Harper wore an anti-homosexuality T-shirt to school, apparently responding to a pro-gay-rights event put on at the school by the Gay-Straight Alliance at the school. On the front, the T-shirt said, "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," and on the back, it said "Homosexuality is Shameful." The principal insisted that Harper take off the T-shirt. Harper sued, claiming this violated his First Amendment rights.

Harper's speech is constitutionally unprotected, the Ninth Circuit just ruled today, in an opinion written by Judge Reinhardt and joined by Judge Thomas; Judge Kozinski dissented. According to the majority, "derogatory and injurious remarks directed at students' minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation" -- which essentially means expressions of viewpoints that are hostile to certain races, religions, and sexual orientations -- are simply unprotected by the First Amendment in K-12 schools. Such speech, Judge Reinhardt said, violates "the rights of other students" by constituting a "verbal assault[] that may destroy the self-esteem of our most vulnerable teenagers and interfere with their educational development."
Get that? Your rights are not as important as more vulnerable groups rights may be.

[...] any T-shirt that condemns homosexuality is apparently unprotected. So are "display[s of the] Confederate Flag," and T-shirts that say "All Muslims Are Evil Doers."

So presumably would be T-shirts that depict some of the Mohammed Cartoons, as the dissent quite plausibly suggests -- note that the majority's confederate flag example makes clear that even ambiguous statements are stripped of protection if they can be seen as insulting based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. So perhaps might be T-shirts that condemn illegal aliens, since those too are directed at "minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation" (the "such as" makes clear that race, religion, and sexual orientation needn't be the only "minority status[es]" that would get special protection from offensive viewpoints).

The majority "reaffirm[s] the importance of preserving student speech about controversial issues generally." But, according to the constitution, this First Amendment principle somehow omits speech about controversial issues having to do with race, religion, or sexual orientation.

The Gay-Straight Alliance has a constitutional right to argue that homosexuality is quite proper, that same-sex marriages should be recognized, that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be banned, and that antigay bigotry is an abomination. But when the other side of this debate "about controversial issues" wants to express its views, which will often have to rest on the theory that homosexuality is wrong, sorry, apparently it's not important to preserve student speech that expresses that view.
[...], Judge Reinhardt takes some unelaborated remarks by the Supreme Court about the First Amendment's not protecting student speech that "intrudes upon . . . the rights of other students," and fashions from them a constitutionally recognized right to be free from certain kinds of offensive viewpoints (not a right that is itself directly legally enforceable, but a right that the school may choose to assert as a justification for its viewpoint-based speech restrictions).
And this is the dangerous part of the decision. The 9th circuit is essentially saying discrimination of speech they disagree with is ok, because of the content of the speech, and who they think its targeting.

Eugene sums it up nicely in the following paragraph (once again, emphasis mine):

This is a very bad ruling, I think. It's a dangerous retreat from our tradition that the First Amendment is viewpoint-neutral. It's an opening to a First Amendment limited by rights to be free from offensive viewpoints. It's a tool for suppression of one side of public debates (about same-sex marriage, about Islam, quite likely about illegal immigration, and more) while the other side remains constitutionally protected and even encouraged by the government.
Ditto. Justice Roberts? I'd love to hear your comments, perhaps you can review this case if its appealed further.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Eco-Leftists: Dashing the dreams of Eco-Leftist Into Perpetuity

Saw this post by Oliver Willis and was "intrigued" myself:

The Future?
by Oliver Willis

Intriguing look at clean energy

Just a short, simple post... but when I clicked on the link, hilarity ensued.

If you've got a high-speed connection, check out this video from The vision of the future from Renew US is that there will be wind turbines as far as the eye can see and there will be flying cars... and there will be a US Climate Secretary. (When does Kucinich win the Presidency?)

Oh, and did I mention that McCain-Obama win the Presidential election on an Independent ticket in 2008?


Anyway, Anne Applebaum in today's Washington Post reveals why this is all overly optimistic. It seems that what I referred to yesterday as NIYBY (Not In Your Backyard) has an official acronym, that of BANANA-ism: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything:
Tilting at Windmills
By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, April 19, 2006; A17
To my eye, they are lovely: Graceful, delicate, white against green grass and a blue sky. Last summer my children and I stopped specially to watch a group of them, wheels turning in the breeze.

But to those who dislike them, the modern wind turbine is worse than ugly. It is an aesthetic blight, a source of noise pollution, a murderer of birds and bats. As for the still-young wind industry, it is "an environmental plunderer, with its hirelings and parasites using a few truths and the politics of wishful thinking to frame a house of lies." Far from being clean and green, "corporate wind is yet another extraction industry relying on false promises," a "poster child for irresponsible development."

Such attacks -- those come from , the Web site of Maryland anti-wind activist Jon Boone -- are not atypical. Similar language turns up [...] on a dozen other anti-wind sites, most started by local groups opposed to a particular project. Their recent, rapid proliferation is not an accident: After languishing for years on the eco-fringe, wind energy has suddenly become mainstream. High oil prices, natural gas shortages, better technology, fear of global warming, state renewable-energy mandates and, yes, tax breaks have finally made wind farms commercially viable as well as clean. Traditional utility companies want to build them -- and thus the traditional environmental movement (which supports wind energy) has produced a handful of untraditional splinter groups that are trying to stop them.

They may succeed. Already, activists and real estate developers have stalled projects across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. In Western Maryland, a proposal to build wind turbines alongside a coal mine, on a heavily logged mountaintop next to a transmission line, has just been nixed by state officials who called it too environmentally damaging. Along the coast of Nantucket, Mass. -- the only sufficiently shallow spot on the New England coast -- a coalition of anti-wind groups and summer homeowners, among them the Kennedy family, also seems set to block Cape Wind, a planned offshore wind farm. Their well-funded lobbying last month won them the attentions of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who, though normally an advocate of a state's right to its own resources, has made an exception for Massachusetts and helped pass an amendment designed to kill the project altogether.
But they also reflect a deeper American malady. The problem plaguing new energy developments is no longer NIMBYism, the "Not-In-My-Back-Yard" movement. The problem now, as one wind-power executive puts it, is BANANAism: "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything." The anti-wind brigade, fierce though it is, pales beside the opposition to liquid natural gas terminals, and would fade entirely beside the mass movement that will oppose a new nuclear power plant. Indeed, the founders of Cape Wind say they embarked on the project in part because public antipathy prevents most other utility investments in New England.

Still, energy projects don't even have to be viable to spark opposition: Already, there are activists gearing up to fight the nascent biofuel industry, on the grounds that fields of switch grass or cornstalks needed to produce ethanol will replace rainforests and bucolic country landscapes. Soon the nonexistent "hydrogen economy" will doubtless be under attack as well. There's a lot of earnest, even bipartisan talk nowadays about the need for clean, emissions-free energy. But are we really ready, politically, to build any new energy sources at all?

I just love to see that the Kennedy's and co. are so environmentally friendly that they're unwilling to have turbines within eyeshot of their palatial estates. Isn't it just great that some of the biggest opponents to solving our energy and environmental problems are the very ones that are environmentalists?

Now, I pointed out the other day that Bill O'Reilly is a pinhead regarding his recent commentary on oil prices. But one thing that I failed to mention in that post is that, as oil prices (and thus gasoline prices) increase, alternative sources of energy suddenly become more attractive. Now, imagine that you're a granola-crunching, dope-smoking, tree-hugging activist who likes to think globally but act locally (ie think international socialism, but apply it locally), it doesn't really fit with your mindset when "traditional utilities" (you know, "evil corporations") start to take a hard look at alternative energy and actually do something about it. It's tough for you to turn over the reigns to a bunch of guys that are just in it for the profit, right? Kind of like selling out to "the man" and the whole cause loses a bit of its moral justification, right?

It's also interesting that Anne mentions the tax breaks, signed into law by President Bush, which are one incentive for local utilities to consider alternative energy. Bush is often excoriated for his lack of an energy policy, but few know the realities of his policies:
The President has set a national goal of replacing more than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. With America on the verge of breakthroughs in advanced energy technologies, the best way to break the addiction to foreign oil is through new technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources. Tonight, the President announced the Advanced Energy Initiative, which provides for a 22% increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy (DOE). The Initiative will accelerate our breakthroughs in two vital areas; how we power our homes and businesses; and how we power our automobiles.

The Commisar over at Politburo Diktat has also posted on this topic...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The next phase in the conspiracy.....

From Reuters:

Bush press secretary quits, Rove ends policy role
By Steve Holland2 hours, 38 minutes ago

White House press secretary Scott McClellan announced his resignation on Wednesday and political adviser Karl Rove gave up his policy role in a shake-up of President George W. Bush's senior aides.

The moves were part of an effort by new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, who started his job last weekend, to help Bush rebound from sagging poll numbers and bolster American confidence in his leadership.

"I have given it my all, sir," McClellan told Bush outside the White House before a group of reporters.

One of a group of Texans brought to the White House by Bush, McClellan said he would stay on over the next two or three weeks to allow time for a transition to his successor, who has not yet been named.

Administration officials said Rove would give up his policy development duties in order to focus more on political affairs, as Republicans try to hang on to control of both houses of Congress in the November mid-term elections.

Rove, another Texas insider, has been keeping a low profile while still remaining under investigation in a special prosecutor's probe into the leak of a CIA officer's identity in 2003.

Rove has been deputy White House chief of staff for policy development and Bush's top political adviser. His policy role will be taken over by Joel Kaplan, currently the deputy White House budget director, two administration officials said.

"This lifts a burden off of Karl," a top White House official said.

McClellan, 38, has been in the job more than 2-1/2 years. He has been one of the most visible faces of the Bush administration and replacing him will give the president the chance to put a fresh face on his White House.

"Change can be helpful," McClellan said. He said he was ready to move on and suggested he would end up back in Texas before Bush gets there at the end of his term.

"I don't know whether or not the press corps realizes it, but his is a challenging assignment dealing with you all on a regular basis. And I thought he handled his assignment with class and integrity," Bush said.

He added: "It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he's made the decision, and I accept it."

(Additional reporting by Patricia Wilson and Caren Bohan)

I'm sorry to see McClellan go. How anyone can be effective with this current White House Press Corps is beyond me.

I love the parts about Rove though. I'm sure there is a DU thread right now talking about what a spanking this is for Rove, and how he's sure to be indicted (any minute now) and frogmarched, etc.

But looking at his strengths, why would you ever put Rove in charge of policy development? He's a political guru. Knows the ins and outs of politics, where the head counts are, memorized the districts, knows effective strategy for voter turnout, etc. Why waste that talent, coming up with how Social Security is going to be fixed?

So, just over 6 months from the next election, a White House that has not been playing the political game very well, has its star manager back in the game directing things. I think the odds of a Dem takeover in the house just dropped 5 points. Place your bets on Tradesports now, ladies and gentlemen.

And as an aside. May I make a suggestion for replacement of Scott as Press Secratary? How about this man? I hear rumblings in the press that he should resign his current job, maybe the press would rather have him answering their questions as White House Press Secretary.

It would be worth it just to see Helen's head explode.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bill O'Reilly Is A Pinhead

Bill O'Reilly has been on a tear over the gas prices... blaming the increased prices on the oil company gouging based on "speculators." This is surprising language from a graduate of Harvard's Business School, but I guess an Ivy League education probably isn't what it used to be.

Bill said tonight that speculators were driving up the price of oil and the oil companies were exploiting this to hit the consumer. He said that there's no lack of supply in oil, so these speculators were being irrational when they drove up the prices (apparently due to the situation with Iran). Now, I'm not an oil industry operative, but I do know something about economics... although my MBA didn't come from an Ivy League school, but a midwest school close to my wife & kids.

While Bill says that speculators are driving up prices ignoring the supply and falsely blaming it on Iran, what is actually happening?

"Speculators" (also known as investors, commodities traders, etc) are reacting to potential problems with future supply, which surely has an effect on the cost of the current supply. If there's a potential that the oil supply will be severely restricted in the near future, the cost of oil today will increase.

If there appears to be an anticipated shortage in gold 6 months from now, what would happen to the price of gold today?

Bill also read an email he received from a viewer in Idaho. The viewer basically said that the oil companies do not operate in the free market, because all of the gas stations sell the gasoline at the same price. This is nonsense. If you go from one grocery store to another and compare the price of a gallon of milk, you'll see that the price variation is effectively zero. The same holds for gasoline.

What is the true cause for the increase in gasoline prices? Here are few things you might want to consider:

  1. China's rapacious appetite for oil...
    China's Quest for Oil: The Middle Kingdom can't find enough oil to meet booming domestic demand—and the world is paying the price at the pump

    While many of the factors that have caused the oil-price spike appear to be fleeting, there may be no respite from Chinese demand for the foreseeable future. The country's industrial base is gobbling up vast amounts of petrochemicals to make everything from fertilizer to Barbie dolls. The number of cars on mainland roads—about 20 million—is expected to increase by 2.5 million this year alone. Even if China's blazing GDP growth of 9.4% this year moderates to 8% in 2005, as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicts, the country is now a permanent major player in the global competition for oil. "More than a billion Chinese are joining the oil market," says Bo Lin, an energy specialist at the Asian Development Bank. "How can prices go down?"
  2. It's that time of year when refiners have to switch to the summer blends... blends which are formulated for each city of the country, instead of regional variations. This always produces a springtime bump in the gasoline prices as the refiners have to operate at peak capacity to meet the demand for all of these different formulations.
    Fuel Prices May Again Top $3 This Summer, Paper Says
    ULSD, Gasoline Formulation Concerns Could Cause Spikes

    Gasoline and diesel retail prices may jump to more than $3 a gallon this summer during the traditional peak driving season, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.

    With crude oil prices about $9 a barrel higher than a year ago, analysts said formulation changes for gasoline and diesel could lead to the fourth straight summer of record prices, the Inquirer said.

    The Energy Department has said that both formulation changes to the fuels have the potential to cause regional supply disruptions with periods of increased volatility, the paper reported.
  3. Iran and the broader Middle East. There were two over-riding factors that made realpolitik the desired course for the 2nd half of the 20th century: 1) The Cold War; and 2) Oil. Instability in the region is a clear factor in the pricing of oil... if only our nation was wholeheartedly behind winning the war in Iraq, we'd be able to point to the successful transformation of a Middle Eastern country and enrich its people as they sell their oil on the market.
  4. OPEC: It is true that oil does not operate in a free market, but only in the sense that the highest concentrations of oil are in places that do not subscribe to free market economics.
  5. Refining capacity: The US has been very slow to approve new refining capacity, ensuring that any hiccups in the supply chain will prove costly.
  6. Oil exploration - NIMBY is the rule here in the US..... unless it is your backyard and you're an Eskimo... then the rule is Not In Your Back Yard (NIYBY).
  7. Lack of alternative energy solutions. Solar's alright, but nukes do it all night... and ethanol should be pursued, as well. If it's economically viable, we should have automobiles that can run it.

Now, the Left is probably all atwitter that Bill is hitting Big Oil, but I wonder whether he would recommend some of the steps that the Left would point to... such as price controls, excess profits tax, etc.

Implementation of those types of policies would result in lower gas prices... but, only at the expense of no gasoline at the pumps.

Surely his Harvard education taught him something?

Unfortunately for Bill, this isn't the first time that he's been a pinhead on this subject.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Rumsfeld's Critics - George Brinton McClellan Lives

Last week as the Secretary of Defense's critics emerged from the ranks of a few retired general officers, my first reaction was to take their criticism of Rumsfeld seriously. These were not pencil pushers. They were officers from some of the finest units in the military, including the 82nd Airborne, the 1st ID and the Marine Corps. They had led some of the very units that brought our smashing victory over Sadam. These were folks who had been there and done that. Their opinions were worthy of respect.

So what brings to mind George McClellan? Who was George McClellan? Why does it mater? What do these general officers have in common with McClellan?

McClellan was the head of the Army of the Potomac, the major Union Army in the East during the Civil War. He had an enormous ego and a shockingly low opinion of President Lincoln. When he failed to perform, Lincoln sacked him. Lincoln was willing to tolerate his insubordinate attitude but not his lack of victories on the battlefield. Lincoln sacked him when he failed to followup on the one victory he did achieve and destroy the Confederate Army after the Battle of Antietam.

McClellan became Lincoln's most outspoken critic. He said total victory was neither possible nor desirable. He eventually ran for president as a Democrat in 1864. Mercifully, he was trounced by Lincoln and the North went on to total victory.

What these six generals who are now Rumsfeld's, and Bush's by extension, critics have done is to enter into the same politcal realm that McClellan did. They are not, as is their right, entering onto the battlefield of ideas, i.e. how do we go about getting the best military result, but rather have entered into the political arena. They seem to have overlooked the notion of the civilian control of the military through the ballot box. Bush won the election, not them. It is up to Bush to select his executives, not them. They can rightfully disagree with policy once they are retired, but to try to dictate who occupies what office is beyond the pale.

It pains me to see that these fine military leaders have fallen heirs to George McClellan. Their ideas might have been taken seriously had they not done what they did. They have succeeded, like McClellan, in making victory more difficult. But they have also followed McClellan to the same end... total irrelevance when the history of this war is written.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Monday, April 17, 2006

I was for the war before I was against it before I was for it

ad infinitum...

If you're a Democrat or a journalist "inside the bubble" of New York or Washington, DC, the worst enemy to you and your career is conventional wisdom. While there may be much about CW that is "conventional," there's often less wisdom than one would expect or hope.

And, as Iraqi military documents are being translated, it seems that the conventional wisdom on Iraq (No WMDS! No Ties to Al Qaeda!) is slowly eroding away. Take this translated document, revealing that Saddam's underlings were destroying documentary evidence of WMD programs. Or this document about moving "special weapons" to Baghdad just before the US invasion in 2003:

[This document[ contains 9 pages TOP SECRET memo (pages 87-96 in the pdf document) dated March 16 2003 that talks about transferring “SPECIAL AMMUNITION” from one ammunition depot in Najaf to other ammunition depots near Baghdad. As we know by now the term SPECIAL AMMUNITION was used by Saddam Regime to designate CHEMICAL WEAPONS as another translated document has already shown. For example in document CMPC 2004-002219 where Saddam regime decided to use “CHEMICAL WEAPONS against the Kurds” they used the term “SPECIAL AMMUNITION” for chemical weapon. What is also interesting is that these “SPECIAL AMMUNITION” were listed as 122 mm, 130 mm, and 155 mm caliber shells which are not by itself SPECIAL unless it contain CHEMICAL WEAPONS. In fact the Iraqi have always used 122 mm, 130 mm, and 155 mm caliber shell as a main delivery tool for Chemical Weapons Agents by filling these type of shells with Nerve Gas, Sarin, Racin, Mustard gas and other Chemical Agents.

Beginning of partial translation of Pages 85-96 in document ISGP-2003-0001498:
In the Name of God the Merciful The Compassionate
Top Secret

Ministry Of Defense

Chairmanship of the Army Staff
Al Mira Department
No. 4/17/ammunition/249

Date 16 March 2003

To: The Command of the Western Region

Subject: Transfer of Ammunitions

The secret and immediate letter of the Chairmanship of the Army Staff 4/17/308 on 10 March 2003

1. The approval of the Army Chief of Staff was obtained to transfer THE SPECIAL AMMUNITIONS in the ammunition depots group of Najaf and according to the following priorities:

A. The first priority
First. Ammunition (122 mm)
Second. Ammunition (130 mm)
Third. Ammunition (155 mm)

To the depots and storage of the Second Corp and the two ammunition depot groups Dijla/2/3

B. Second priority.
First. Ammunition (23 mm)
Second. Ammunition (14.5 mm)

To the ammunition depots of the air defense and distributed to the ammunition depot groups in (Al Mussayeb- Al Sobra- Saad).

2. To execute the order of the Chief Army Staff indicated in section (1) above, we relate the following:

A. Duty

Transfer of the ammunitions shown in sections (A) and (B) from the ammunitions depots of Najaf to the ammunition depots in (Dijla 2/3, and Al Mansor, and Saad, and Al Mussayeb, and Sobra and Blad Roz and Amar Weys from March 16 till April 14 2003.

General Rasheed Abdallah Sultan
Assistant to the Army Chief of Staff- Al Mira
March 2003

End of Partial translation
The remaining pages of this 9 pages top secret memo talk about getting the special vehicles to transfer the SPECIAL AMMUNITION and the people assigned to supervise and execute the transfer and they were top Iraqi Army and Military Intelligence officers.

JVeritas is translating through the tons of documents
over at FreeRepublic. Previous ARC posts are here, here, and here.

I guess the main question is... When you were for something before you were against it, is it more or less difficult to be for it again? Or, to put it in plain English, once you've flip-flopped, is it easy to flip again?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Opinions of Some Generals Apparently Don't Count

Nice commentary in the WSJ today [requires subscription]:

In Defense of Donald Rumsfeld
April 17, 2006; Page A16

Foes of the Bush administration described the recent calls by six retired generals for Donald Rumsfeld to resign or be fired as "growing military pressure" for him to do so. These retired generals claim he should go for, among other things, ignoring the advice of senior military leaders and bungling the global war on terror in Iraq with poorly planned war-fighting strategies and post-Saddam planning efforts. We strongly disagree.

Like former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, we do not believe that it is appropriate for active duty, or retired, senior military officers to publicly criticize U.S. civilian leadership during war. Calling for the secretary's resignation during wartime may undercut the U.S. mission and incites individual challenge to the good order and discipline of our military culture. At best, such comments may send a confusing message to our troops deployed on dangerous missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. At worst, they can also inspire and motivate the evil forces we seek to defeat.

Since our nation's founding, the principle of civilian control over the military has been a centerpiece of our system of government. Under our constitutional system, it places elected and appointed government leaders in charge. American soldiers are bound by this tradition to subordinate themselves to civilian authority. We give advice but it is ultimately up to civilian leaders to make key strategic and policy decisions. Unlike many other democracies, this is one important reason why we have never been ruled by the military, and have been the most successful country the world has ever seen.
Much of the acrimony expressed by Secretary Rumsfeld's military critics appears to stem from his efforts to "transform" the military by moving to a joint expeditionary force that is lighter and more mobile in nature to meet the nation's current and future threats. Many senior officers and bureaucrats did not support his transformation goals -- preferring conventional weapons of the past like the Crusader artillery piece and World War II war-fighting strategies, which prove practically useless against lawless and uncivilized enemies engaged in asymmetric warfare. It unfortunately appears that two of the retired generals (Messrs. Zinni and Newbold) do not understand the true nature of this radical ideology, Islamic extremism, and why we fight in Iraq. We suggest they listen to the tapes of United 93.

I'm waiting to see these guys' faces plastered on every news segment for the next week.

ARC:St Wendeler

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Democratic Message On Iran

Given our situation with Iran, it's important to understand how the domestic opposition party views the situation - especially given that they don't subscribe to the position which is being pursued by our government.

Here is the Democrat message on Iran, according to AmericaBlog. It's infused with Bush Derangement Syndrome throughout... Can we seriously consider putting in power a political organization with these positions on such a fundamental question?

Here is the Democratic message on Iran
by John in DC - 4/13/2006 11:49:00 AM

George Bush has decided to use Iran as a foil to help his sagging poll numbers and to help Republicans in the fall congressional elections. I'm going to discuss why this is true, and what the Dems should do about it.

Iran is ten years away from developing nukes.

I'll say it again, TEN YEARS away. That would be TEN YEARS at the earliest, according to the best estimate we have. And that's not according to some peacenik liberal, it's according to the best estimate of US intelligence.
Iran is a convenient way to change the subject
Start saber-rattling about how Iran is going to nuke America's babies, and people may very well forget all the other problems on their plate. Bringing up Iran now is a convenient way to help Republicans in the fall congressional elections

There's a second benefit to this strategy as well. Bush can again look presidential - the strong leader taking on more evil dark-skinned false-god worshippers. Bush's hope is that all of this will help the Republicans sagging poll numbers, and thus help them retain the House and Senate in the fall.

Comforting that your view of foreign policy is always primarily focused on the implications on domestic political results....
So how should Democrats respond to the issue of Iran's nuclear threat?

Let me suggestion a number of possible talking points and positions.

1) George Bush is the wrong man to be launching yet another war.

President? Check... I seem to recall that position also being referred to as Commander-In-Chief
2) Slow down, we've got ten years.
And what if the "experts" are wrong, as they were with Saddam in 1991 and Saddam in 2003?
3) Since we have ten years, we can at the very least wait seven months until the congressional elections this fall.
4) It is ridiculous to consider any congressional resolution on Iran until after the fall elections.

Ahh, yes... mustn't bring up important foreign policy issues which voters should actually consider when voting in the Congressional elections... would be very undemocratic to have discuss issues prior to an election, right?
5) There is no reason we need to even go to war until Bush has left office.

Huh? That's just stupid. Only someone suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) would make such an argument
6) Bush is the not the president we want exercising the nuclear option.

I would prefer that no president exercise the nuclear option... But, if a president does have to make that decision, I certainly won't be looking at party affiliation. Again, a clear sign of BDS.
7) Bush either lied to us, or was unable to determine the truth, about Iraq's WMD program (which we now know didn't exist). Why should we believe claims from the same president and same intelligence agencies about Iran's WMD program? We need more than President Bush's assurances.

How about we rely upon the words of the President of Iran? Or the "moderates" in the regime? Or the IAEA? Or the UN? Or that's right, even though they agreed with us as well, it was only Bush that lied to us. (BDS yet again!)
8) What military and what money are we going to use to launch a war against Iran?

The military accounts for a small portion of our federal budget. I've got a suggestion... why don't we move the billions (and future trillions) dedicated to that program towards an effort that requires our full support and attention?
9) Why is it always us?

Clearly you do not understand the reality of the word as it is today. Perhaps you should review the defense expenditures of the major countries in the world (at least those that could possibly be considered on the right side of history). Woops, I've gotten all judgemental, haven't I....

And if you think that AmericaBlog is a lone outpost of moonbattery, see this post on Huffington's site which echoes this very scary sentiment:
1. Iran presently has a strong, rational incentive to get nukes.
2. Iran has acted rationally and can be reasoned with.
3. There is plenty of time to negotiate.
4. The Bush Administration's word is not credible.
5. The way to stop Iran, without causing more death, destruction and instability, is to remove the incentives for Iran to go nuclear, and negotiate.

Yep... this sounds like the gameplan that we used to great effect during the 1990s... resulting in the first WTC attack, Khobar, the USS Cole attack, African embassies, Somalia, etc, etc.

I just wish there was an American message on Iran. Unfortunately, those suffering from BDS are unwilling to understand the impact of their words. At some point, I feel a tinge of guilt that Another Rovian Conspiracy might have contributed to their affliction.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Our Inability to Understand Iran

Mark Steyn, in full:

Policy on Iran nukes seems to be off-target
April 16, 2006

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. But, if you're like the president of Iran and believe in the coming of the "Twelfth Imam," your happy holiday may be just around the corner, too. President Ahmadinejad, who is said to consider himself the designated deputy of the "hidden Imam," held a press conference this week -- against a backdrop of doves fluttering round an atom and accompanied by dancers in orange decontamination suits doing choreographed uranium-brandishing. It looked like that Bollywood finale of ''The 40-Year-Old Virgin,'' where they all pranced around to "This Is The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius." As it happens, although he dresses like Steve Carell's 40-year-old virgin, the Iranian president is, in fact, a 40-year-old nuclear virgin, and he was holding a press conference to announce he was ready to blow. "Iran," he said, "has joined the group of countries which have nuclear technology" -- i.e., this is the dawning of the age of a scary us. "Our enemies cannot do a damned thing," he crowed, as an appreciative audience chanted "Death to America!"

The reaction of the international community was swift and ferocious. The White House said that Iran "was moving in the wrong direction." This may have been a reference to the dancers. A simple Radio City kickline would have been better. The British Foreign Office said it was "not helpful." This may have been a reference to the doves round the atom.

You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."

That's how it goes with the Iranians. The more they claim they've gone nuclear, the more U.S. intelligence experts -- oops, where are my quote marks? -- the more U.S. intelligence "experts" insist no, no, it won't be for another 10 years yet. The more they conclusively demonstrate their non-compliance with the IAEA, the more the international community warns sternly that, if it were proved that Iran were in non-compliance, that could have very grave consequences. But, fortunately, no matter how thoroughly the Iranians non-comply it's never quite non-compliant enough to rise to the level of grave consequences. You can't blame Ahmadinejad for thinking "our enemies cannot do a damned thing."

It's not the world's job to prove that the Iranians are bluffing. The braggadocio itself is reason enough to act, and prolonged negotiations with a regime that openly admits it's negotiating just for the laughs only damages us further. The perfect summation of the Iranian approach to negotiations came in this gem of a sentence from the New York Times on July 13 last year:

"Iran will resume uranium enrichment if the European Union does not recognize its right to do so, two Iranian nuclear negotiators said in an interview published Thursday."

Got that? If we don't let Iran go nuclear, they'll go nuclear. That position might tax even the nuanced detecting skills of John Kerry.

By comparison, the Tehran press has a clear-sightedness American readers can only envy. A couple of months back, the newspaper Kayhan, owned by Ayatollah Khamenei, ran an editorial called "Our Immortality And The West's Disability," with which it was hard to disagree: Even if one subscribes to the view that sanctions are a sufficient response to states that threaten to nuke their neighbors, Mohammad Jafar Behdad correctly pointed out that they would have no serious impact on Iran but would inflict greater damage on those Western economies that take them seriously (which France certainly won't).

Meanwhile, the Washington Post offers the likes of Ronald D. Asmus, former deputy assistant secretary of state under President Clinton, arguing "Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO." "Containment" is a word that should have died with the Cold War, and certainly after the oil-for-food revelations: Aside from the minimal bang for huge numbers of bucks, you can't "contain" a state. Under the illusion of "containment," events are always moving, and usually in favor of the fellow you're trying to contain. But the idea that the way to "contain" Iran is to admit Israel to NATO elevates "containment" from an obsolescent striped-pants reflex to the realm of insanity.

All the doom-mongers want to know why we went into Iraq "without a plan." Well, one reason is surely that, for a year before the invasion, the energy of the U.S. government was primarily devoted to the pointless tap-dance through the United Nations, culminating in the absurd situation of Western foreign ministers chasing each other through Africa to bend the ear of the president of Guinea, who happened to be on the Security Council that week but whose witch doctor had advised against supporting Washington. Allowing the Guinean tail to wag the French rectum of the British hindquarters of the American dog was a huge waste of resources. To go through it all again in order to prevent whichever global colossus chances to be on the Security Council this time (Haiti? The South Sandwich Islands?) from siding with the Russo-Chinese obstructionists would show that the United States had learned nothing.

Bill Clinton, the Sultan of Swing, gave an interesting speech last week, apropos foreign policy: "Anytime somebody said in my presidency, 'If you don't do this, people will think you're weak,' I always asked the same question for eight years: 'Can we kill 'em tomorrow?' If we can kill 'em tomorrow, then we're not weak, and we might be wise enough to try to find an alternative way."

The trouble was tomorrow never came -- from the first World Trade Center attack to Khobar Towers to the African Embassy bombings to the USS Cole. Manana is not a policy. The Iranians are merely the latest to understand that.

Does anyone doubt that we're starting down the same path? With the Left holding out hope that tomorrow will position us better to negotiate with the fatalist nutjobs at the helm of a once great nation?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler