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March 2006 Archives

March 31, 2006

Democrats on Defense II

By Armed Liberal at 21:40

I was pretty dismissive of the bulk of the Democratic defense plan; it may be that I was premature - the 'real' document (pdf) - 120+ pages of it - was released yesterday.

I'll be going through it and commenting. There's obviously more flesh on this than on the press summary I commented on. Let's hope it's steak and not bologna. But you ought to go look yourself.


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  • Tom Holsinger: Mark, Stanton was not Lincoln's first Secretary of War. He read more
  • Mark Buehner: "Lincoln's Secty of War Stanton was not well loved. And read more
  • M. Simon: BTW I would love to serve under Rummy now. Unfortunately read more
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Every Way to Paradise

By Joe Katzman at 14:40

From "The Sufi Soul" by William Dalrymple:

"The Tablighis are now probably the largest Muslim missionary movement in the world, and advocate a return to the basic fundamentals of the Koran. They greatly dislike Sufism, the mystical face of Islam, and believe that Sufi shrines like that of Nizamuddin encourage such un-Koranic practice as idolatry, music, dancing and the veneration of dead saints. With his dark skin, wispy beard and narrow eyes, Amin did not look like a Delhi-wallah. He was an aircraft maintenance engineer from Dacca [JK: Bangladesh] who had come to Delhi [JK: India] to learn more of the teachings of the Tablighis, and to help preach what he considered to be the proper ways of Islam....

“So,” I asked, “what do you think of the Sufi idea that God can also be found in the human heart?”

“Paradise within us?” said Amin, raising his eyebrows. “No, no: this is emotional talk - a dream only. Is there evidence for this in the Koran? Real Islam is more disciplined than that: there are rules and regulations that must be followed: how to eat, how to wash, even how to clip your moustache. There is nothing in the Koran about paradise within the body. It is outside. To get there you must follow the commands of the Almighty. Then when you die, insh’allah, that will be where your journey ends.”

Here, it seemed to me lay some sort of crux - a small but vitally important clash of civilisations, not between East and West, but within Islam itself. Between the strictly regulated ways of the orthodox Tablighis and the customs of the heterodox Sufis lay not just two different understandings of Islam, but two entirely different conceptions of how to live, how to die, and how to make the final and most important, and difficult, journey of all - to paradise."

If you want to understand the Sufis a little bit better, Winds' "Sufi Wisdom" category offers a bit of a window. But now it's time to shift from India to places beyond, and to focus on the Salafists, Hojjatieh, and their ilk rather than the Sufis. For that, however, what we need isn't an expat but a shrink. Several, in fact, as we look at Islam's einsatzgruppen, the psycho-mechanics of death cults, and how G-d is drawn....


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  • GeneThug: Putting aside fundamental disagreements over Deism for the moment (TJ read more
  • T. J. Madison: >>I'll add that this example is a double-edged argument, because read more
  • Joe Katzman: This would also be the point where I poke at read more

Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog

By Yehudit at 07:06

Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog and it hath been making me laugh hysterically. You would think that medievalle spellynge would get old after a while, but every post is funny and the "Brokeback Mountain" parody and King Richard's "downtime requirements" are inspired. (And the comments are great too.)

Geoffrey's Blogspot profile.

And thow kanst buye a Chaucer Blog t-shirte if it pleseth thee.


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  • Steve Harold: Brilliant and all without a spellchecker too. read more
  • Yehudit: I was just quoting Master Chaucer, in the blog banner. read more
  • Dan Kauffman: "And thow kanst buye a Chaucer Blog t-shirte if it read more

Fair Reporting and The Tipping Point

By Joe Katzman at 00:57

It has been an interesting couple of days here on Winds. Lots of comment and debate, as articles have included:

So I'm having an exchange in the "Open Letter to Reformist Muslims" thread, and there's a point I want to make more prominently.

"...just as we wish to media to report both the good news and the bad news from Iraq in a fair way, fairness demands that we cover the people like Ali Eteraz in addition to alerting our readers to the genuine jihadi threat."

The argument for doing so is the same. To ask for one on principle demands that one ask for the other.


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  • mal123: http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21872 excellent read more
  • Murdoc: Actually, "denounce" is obviously the wrong word for those who read more
  • Murdoc: Joe: Not only is "moderate Muslim" (and so on) coverage read more

March 30, 2006

TIME's Michael Ware: Shilling for Jihadist Access

By Joe Katzman at 23:10

Hugh Hewitt interviewed TIME Magazine's Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware, whose idea of a good way to cover Iraq is to embed/liaise with the al-Qeada affiliates and Ba'athist fascists of the so-called "insurgency." The transcripts are up, and Hewitt writes:

"Parts of this interview trouble me a great deal. Ware is quite obviously a courageous, battle-hardened and determined reporter, but his answers to a variety of questions leave me concerned that the pressure of his circumstances will impact his reporting, and may have already impacted the candor of his assessment of the jihadists and the "insurgents." His refusal to answer other questions of historical judgment and relevance - were the Soviets better off under Stalin or Khrushchev, for example - tell me he is aware of the deep problems with his analysis of Iraq under Saddam and post-Saddam, and that he refuses to engage in any conversation that will inevitably expose that analysis as indefensible.

But the major problem comes from the threat of distortion born of fear, the same problem that we learned plagued CNN under Saddam, but learned only after Saddam was toppled."

Commentary and key excerpts here, or go for the full transcript and MP3 file. Reading the interview, one cannot reasonably come to any other conclusion. He is shilling and soft-pedaling for fascists and terrorists, consciously telling less than the truth in order to preserve his ability to cover a war from the enemy's point of view.

Ware has a history here - and when you combine his self-censorship because the jihadis might read it with his frank acknowledgement of the role that the insurgents told him to his face they wished him to play, it's incredibly damning. Now contrast Ware's 2005 Tal Afar reports with the actions of and letter from its mayor recently. No doubt his unsubstantiated charges about US soldiers "manhandling" Iraqi women were also a great interview-smoother with his Islamofascist "contacts".

The operative word here is traitor. To his profession. To his country.


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  • tim: Michael ware is revolting. that is all I have to read more
  • Lisa: You all have got to be kidding. Michael Ware is read more
  • Joe Katzman: The problem, as noted above, is precisely that Ware is read more

Thursday Winds of War: March 30/06

By Colt at 18:22

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Thursday's Winds of War briefings are given by Matt 'Colt' of Eurabian Times.

TOP TOPICS

  • While Indian authorities worry about the security threat posed by Islamic terrorists, they regard the increasingly organised Maoist groups as a 'socio-economic problem'. The 10,000 strong Maoist force controls some 90,000 square kilometres of Indian territory. Their attacks are 'meticulously planned' and increasingly successful, and include a massive prison break, a train hijacking and several large scale assaults. Indian authorities claim that the Islamic threat is more dangerous due to the sponsorship of the Pakistani government - perhaps the Maoists have their own backers, too?
  • Saudi Arabia has thwarted another attack on its oil facilities. Two car bombs were found, bearing the logo of an oil company, and police raided a neighbourhood known to house oil workers - arms and explosives were found, and a man arrested.

Other Topics Today Include: Iran exercises; German firms sell nuke equipment to mullahs; Britain continues military sales to Iran; Arab League to fund PA; Hamas takes control; suicide bomber nabbed; the Sadr compound 'massacre'; Carroll freed; Saudis net 40, thwath bombings; infantry don't like new armour; Humvees still suck; investigators get radioactive materials across both U.S. borders; troops help nab illegals; prosecutor to face charges; FARC gets farced; Rahman given asylum in Italy; Italy deports 20 thought to be plotting attacks; 121 threats to Dutch politicians in 12 months; Dagestan house burns down, terrorist occupants 'destroyed'; Russia's milita problem; soldiers killed in Afghanistan; bin Laden aide critical; Kashmir tourists terrorists caught in Waziristan; JMB developments; Jolo bombing kills 9; Thais arrest 19 Muslim teachers; Taylor caught; GSPC stuff; Arab League to fund AU; Bush calls for NATO in Darfur; NATO meet with Arab states; piracy up; how many are we facing?; and much more.


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  • Colt: Try here. read more
  • 3dc: The link to the UK selling arms to the Mullahs read more
  • Colt: Anyone looking to destabilise India. Pakistan or China, perhaps. I'm read more

Tipping Points: Irtidad & Honour Killings

By Joe Katzman at 16:51

Today's post set seems like a good place to revisit the issue of post-tipping point politics. Liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, whose recent works include epistles like "Bushies in a State of Denial" and "Hillary Clinton: Our Favourite Victim" appears to have had a bit of a wake-up call over the threat to execute Christian convert (and hence murtadd charged with irtidad) Abdul Rahman. In Unfathomable Zealotry, he writes:

"The Americans have protested, the Brits have protested, the Vatican has protested and so (I assume) have some others. But if there has been a holler of protest from anywhere in the Muslim world, it has not reached my ears. That is appalling."

He goes on...


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  • FormerDem: neo, Rahman's in Italy and alive because some Muslims decided read more
  • neorealist: From the Koran-- But if they turn renegades, seize them read more
  • liberalhawk: actually Richard is as hysterical in this column as he read more

Reality check

By Yehudit at 09:16
Dennis Prager crunches some numbers:
Far fewer people believed in Nazism or in communism than believe in Islam generally or in authoritarian Islam specifically. There are one billion Muslims in the world. If just 10 percent believe in the Islam of Hamas, the Taliban, the Sudanese regime, Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, bin Ladin, Islamic Jihad, the Finley Park Mosque in London or Hizbollah -- and it is inconceivable that only one of 10 Muslims supports any of these groups' ideologies -- that means a true believing enemy of at least 100 million people. Outside of Germany, how many people believed in Nazism? Outside of Japan, who believed in Japanese imperialism and militarism? And outside of universities, the arts world or Hollywood, how many people believed in Soviet-style totalitarianism?
Some people just don't get the relative proportions of things until you make this kind of comparison. For example, I find it useful to point out that Israel is the size of New Jersey. Maps like this help too.

Here's my version of Prager's reality check:

If only 2 percent of all Muslims believe in "the Islam of Hamas, the Taliban, etc." that would still be more than the total number of Jews on the planet. At all. Period.

Try it on your friends. It's a real conversation-killer.


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  • Tom West: If we're going to manufacture numbers, just what percentage of read more
  • alchemist: Yet another reason why the 100 million number is unimportant. read more
  • celebrim: "I really think the point of this article is these read more

Fear of a Jihadi Planet

By Yehudit at 09:06

And you thought the Motoon kerfluffle was
a) over, and
b) a kerfluffle.

But no. Dominos continue to fall.

NYUcartoons.jpg


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  • Yehudit: Does Borders dictate Amazon policy? read more
  • Demosophist: Yehudit: I think Borders and Amazon are either owned by read more
  • Craig: I found the contacts for Borders’ media relations people. I read more

Open Letter to Reformist Muslims

By Joe Katzman at 05:07

Via this week's excellent roundup of 'best post' nominees at The Watcher's Council comes Ali Eteraz' Open Letter to Reformist Muslims:

"If, then, there are those in the West who challenge what passes for Islam today, on the basis of their humanity with the Muslim, then we Muslims must embrace them as our brothers. It is conceiveable, yes, that there are those in the West with as much sadomasochim (or courage, if you will), as the reformists of Islam; with as great a penchant for human rights as the reformists of Islam; with as great a willingness to face off against the edifice of a corrupt theology as the reformists of Islam. We must embrace them as our brothers, be they Latino, Black, or dare I say, white; be they Hindu, Jew, Christian, or dare I say, secular-humanist. We — this is the ‘we’ that refers to all those who fight injustice — did not exclude such helpers when the evil was Soviet Union. We — this is the ‘we that refers to all those who fight injustice — did not exclude the helpers when the evil was Jim Crow. Nor when the evil was the patriarchy which denied female equality. In fact, if reformist Islam is to stand a chance, it has to be open to those who want to help. There has never been a case in history where change has occurred without participation by some members of the dominant discourse joining in the efforts of those who agitate for change.

....All those then, theists, secularists, atheists, deists, refuseniks, peaceniks, Jews, Gentiles, Unitarians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Philosophers, who wish to walk for humanity: speak up and do not stop speaking. Walk with the believers. There are believers who will walk with you."


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  • Mike Daley: Joe, You usually put me in my place, but I read more
  • Joe Katzman: Mike, I didn't say Prager was wrong. But Prager can read more
  • Mike Daley: Joe, I'm way past the tipping point, to the statement read more

Wafa Sultan: A tale of two transcripts

By 'AMac' at 04:25

There has been a spirited discussion at Winds about the context of the appearance of Syrian-American physician Wafa Sultan on Al-Jazeera TV last month. MEMRI published a video clip and transcribed excerpts of Sultan's remarks of 2/21/06. Her message was one that many Westerners hoped that the Muslim world would take to heart.

The group of reformist Muslim bloggers at 'Aqoul grew upset at what they viewed as the inadequacy and even dishonesty of MEMRI's excerpts, and this week 'Meph' produced a full 12-page translation of the Al-Jazeera program. locked PDF here

How do the two compare?


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  • AMac: > i would also like to point out that viewing read more
  • raf*: dear all, i do not wish to join the mudslinging. read more
  • Glen Wishard: Anon: Once again, there is no monolithic Islam to be read more

Democrats On Defense

By Armed Liberal at 00:32
So this came out today. Let's take a look...
REAL SECURITY The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World

March 29, 2006

109th Congress, Second Session

Americans want and deserve change. Democrats’ plan for Real Security will protect Americans and restore our country’s position of international leadership.

OK, so far so good. I want to be protected, and want our country to lead.
The first responsibility of our government is the security of every American. In this era of unprecedented and unpredictable challenge, we must be prepared for any threat.
Hyperbole, but OK hyperbole.
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  • M. Simon: Phil, I agree mostly. Wind is very good up to read more
  • Phil Fraering: While I think wind power is one of the few read more
  • lurker: More nukes ain't going to do it. Cars don't run read more

March 29, 2006

Those Left Behind

By Armed Liberal at 21:58

There’s certainly a lot of discussion about immigration (esp from Latin America) this week. Today Marc Cooper blasts off on ostensible liberals who, frightened a bit by the political mass of the recent marches are suddenly sensitive to the pressure immigrants put on our labor movement.

It’s certainly a conundrum – a problem that has to be considered in five or six dimensions to be considered honestly. And I’d like to add one more just because the problem is obviously too simple as it's formulated today.

The question is the intermediate- and long-term impact of this kind of migration not on the U.S., but on the source countries.


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  • J Aguilar: AFAIK Free Trade removes obstacles that hinder economic development, triggering read more
  • Art: "I am calling for a recognition that the answer to read more
  • J Aguilar: True, the problem for the rest of the world's countries read more

Crunch Time in Iraq

By Joe Katzman at 11:26

Things are heating up in Baghdad. Wretchard of Belmont Club brings a pair of posts, with good links to Iraqi bloggers and Bill Roggio. The issue of militias and accountability appears to be coming to a head, and hard decisions will be called for by all participants.

  • Krauthammer is right about the overall dynamics in terms of Sunni options. Return violence does have the effect of making the Sunnis think hard about the price of continuing to support and shelter those who would wage war upon the rest of Iraq, and how many enemies they are making. That's important. But he's also right that "The principal issue, and measure of our success, is the shaping of disciplined and effective security forces," and that's why reports from Wretchard, Iraqi bloggers et. al. are concerning.
  • US, Mahdi forces Clash. The Mahdi Army is Sadr's way of reminding us what a mistake it has been to allow him to remain above ground and breathing for the last couple of years. The US appears to be moving to take on his militias again, after they've been responsible for most of the anti-Sunni violence and executions in the wake of the inside job at the Samarra mosque.

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  • PC: Crunch time in Iraq, you say? http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6272/487/1600/cohen.3.jpg read more
  • liberalhawk: Joe, I agree Sadr personally is important, but we should read more
  • BishopMVP: There is the huge problem with perspective when it comes read more

Are the Euro's Days Numbered?

By Joe Katzman at 08:00

Desmond Lachman talks about the forces pulling the Euro currency union apart. Which aren't at all surprising, and were in fact widely predicted in advance. Not that these predictions had the slightest impact on Europe's elites:

"The daunting challenges to the euro experiment are perhaps best exemplified by the response I got from a former Salomon Brothers' emerging-market trader when I asked him where the next emerging market debt crisis would occur. Without missing a beat, he replied that it would take place in Greece, Italy or Portugal....

The present travails of Italy, the euro area's third largest economy, should provide a sobering lesson as to why the euro area is unlikely to survive in its present form...."

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: as EU policies either create social and/or economic disruption (as in Italy), or set forces in motion that attack its edifices, the need for a bogeyman can only increase among Europe's elites. America is and will remain that bogeyman. Expect anti-Americanism to be a rising long-term trend as inexorable demographics meet bad policy and the EU's inevitable failures accumulate.


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  • Jessica: I know that the Euro was a way of pulling read more
  • J Aguilar: Dan (#7) The Elites who established that Union, designed, thought read more
  • PC: In 2001, the Euro was worth about 80 to 90 read more

Tough Questions... and a Dash of Good News

By 'AMac' at 02:35

In an unsigned opinion piece, Investors' Business Daily poses some tough questions for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a self-described mainstream group with a troubling history of extremism and intolerance, documented here. (Hat tip: LGF ). Among other things, IBD asks:

  • Is it true that 26 chapters of the Quran deal with jihad, a fight able-bodied believers are obligated to join (Surah 2:216), and that the text orders Muslims to "instill terror into the hearts of the unbeliever" and to "smite above their necks" (8:12)?
  • Is the "test" of loyalty to Allah not good acts or faith in general, but martyrdom that results from fighting unbelievers (47:4) — the only assurance of salvation in Islam (4:74; 9:111)?
  • Are the sins of any Muslim who becomes a martyr forgiven by the very act of being slain while slaying the unbelievers (4:96)?
  • Are those unable to do jihad — such as women or the elderly — required to give "asylum and aid" to those who do fight unbelievers in the cause of Allah (8:74)?
  • Does Islam advocate expansion by force? And is the final command of jihad, as revealed to Muhammad in the Quran, to conquer the world in the name of Islam (9:29)?
  • Is Islam the only religion that does not teach the Golden Rule (48:29)? Does the Quran instead teach violence and hatred against non-Muslims, specifically Jews and Christians (5:50)?

Via Matoko/jinnilyyah in the comments to Winds' Moderate Muslims Sighted in Madison comes a hopeful answer from an unexpected locale: Sana'a, Yemen by way of Cairo.


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  • AMac: > Islam is not a religion of peace, it is read more
  • Anon: The question is not what ALL Muslims think, but what read more
  • pst314: Anon wrote: "Unfortunately, IBD is being pretty stupid." You are read more

Hummer Deathtraps Suck: Take 2

By Joe Katzman at 02:00
LAND_M1114_HMMWV_IEDed.jpg
HMMWV, IEDed
(click to view full)

Monday Winds of War team member Jeff of Peace Like a River notes combat casualties since January 7, 2006, where Humvees were specified as being involved. Note how many involve IEDs, which the Hummer is structurally ill-equipped to cope with.

Winds of Change.NET's Friday article "Hummer Deathtraps Suck" argues that the Hummer has become a flawed design that no longer has a relevant battlefield role anywhere outside of low threat zones (where it is overly expensive and could be replaced by cheaper alternatives). The US military isn't putting a priority on replacing its Hummers with very similar but more survivable vehicles, even though such vehicles are already on the market, proven, and serving successfully with allied forces and even some specialist branches of the US military.

This needs to change.

UPDATES:

  • Wash Park Prophet's The Humvee Problem is another fine recap and article. Adds a bit more history.
  • Murdoc notes that the US military is looking at about 11 off the shelf vehicles as potential replacements, including most of the vehicles mentioned in my article. But Airborne Combat Engineer, who has been on this issue for a while, notes the key statement that sums up the problem with a quote: "Whether or not the Army decides there’s a requirement here is not determined at this point. And whether or not this goes into an acquisition process has not been determined." Can somebody please get their head out of their ass and determine it, since we're only 3 years into the battle for Iraq where IEDs are enemy #1?

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  • FLOODMUD: TRENT, If selected areas and roadways were pre-seeded with smart read more
  • Trent Telenko: Vin, There were a lot of political obsticles to using read more
  • Vin: All the mine proof vehicles are copies/rip-offs of 25 year read more

What's Right with This Story

By 'Callimachus' at 01:33

People are fascinated by the story of a Texas Baptist pastor running for office as a Democrat. Whoever heard of such a thing? Well, the Progressives have. Not the people who call themselves that today, but the original Progressives. You have to pull down your American history book to talk to them today.


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  • Glen Wishard: Glen: Who said anything about government co-opting religion? What does read more
  • Dave Schuler: I'm a little confused by your last comment, celebrim. IIRC read more
  • celebrim: Glen: Who said anything about government co-opting religion? What does read more

March 28, 2006

$10,000 to Every American

By Joe Katzman at 19:46

Charles Murray looks at the welfare state, and notes that it isn't really working, but it isn't going away either. In response, he offers a radical idea.


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  • Fly: This was a common economic suggestion in old science fiction read more
  • Tim Worstall: The financing of this is easy. You redirect all of read more
  • Mark Buehner: "Some years ago Buchanan proposed a legislative system based on read more

The Grace Lee Project

By Armed Liberal at 19:35

Sorry for the light posting; I'm stepping between projects plus we're doing a small remodel, and somehow the hours are just blurring by.

I'm working on a post concerning my favorite topic - the war and our views of it - and will try and get it done and up by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Tenacious G (my lovely and tolerant wife) was Grace Lee before we married. She was in turn contacted by another woman named Grace Lee, who is a filmmaker, who did a documentary on women named Grace Lee, called imaginatively enough "The Grace Lee Project".

I haven't seen it yet, but will this Saturday night. It's playing at the Laemmle Theater on Beverly near Fairfax for a few days starting this Friday.

From the website and reviews, it's an interesting contemplation of Asian-American women's identity, and an introduction to some incredible women - including, briefly, Tenacious G.


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  • FabioC.: I had an absolutely unpleasant experience with a woman called read more

Nobody's Perfect!

By Armed Liberal at 15:00

Breaking Voting News

Read the email below the fold from - it appears that the California HAVA (Help Americans Vote Act) registration system - as implemented by California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson - is killing over 40% of the attempts to register that were made in Los Angeles County this quarter.

As I've said over, and over, and over again, we need voting systems that a) are transparent so that people trust them; b) are auditable so that they can be checked; and c) work.

The vote-input and vote-counting machines are only a small part of that system. It starts with letting people register when they ought to be able to.


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  • Armed Liberal: Thorley, if you read the email the issue isn't that read more
  • Joe Katzman: Thorley, "not matching" can be something as simple as the read more
  • Thorley Winston: Read the email below the fold from - it appears read more

Israeli Elections Today

By Joe Katzman at 13:03

On Tuesday, March 28, Vital Perspective will be live blogging the Israeli elections. They will be tuned-in via satellite and be working with all of their contacts in the region for up-to-the-minute results. Coverage will begin at 8:15am Eastern and will continue until several hours after the polls close (at 3pm Eastern). An anchor post is already up laying out the basics. A wrap up will be forthcoming once results are in, to offer a perspective on just what it means for foreign policy and for the state of the Middle East, as well as an analysis of the official U.S. reaction as it develops.

Meanwhile, Dave at Israellycool offers information on all the parties, a set of online media sources, and some liveblogging of his own.


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  • Colt: While the results probably won't be shocking, it is worth read more

German-American Relations: The Blogs Discuss

By Joe Katzman at 03:34

Organized by Atlantic Review
Want this badge?

The Carnival of German-American Relations went well, with 30 International and German bloggers particiating. Including Winds of Change.NET's "The German Question: Darfur, Diplomacy & the European Media," which noted that the key problem didn't sit at the level of international politics or diplomacy, and wasn't likely to change.

Still, gotta love an effort whose organizers include a German blog called "Statler & Waldorf". The Atlantic Review has organized the top submissions into a narrative format by sub-topic, and one can also go down the right sidebar for more. The next carnival will take place on June 11th, and they are already accepting submissions.


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Latin America: No Mas

By Joe Katzman at 02:16

Thans to a tip from Spanish reader Joe Aguilar, I came across Carlos Alberto Montaner. He pretty much nails geo-political reality re: Latin America.

"Greatly concerned, Aguinis recalled another tragic region of the planet where something similar occurred on a scale even more dramatic: Africa. Africa is also irrelevant and is taken into account only when some catastrophe or extraordinary massacre is reflected in newspaper headlines. I might even add another interesting case of decivilization: Turkey....

Actually, it's worse than that. Africa has more valuable resources, and is set up as a major locus of future competition between China and India. Latin America's likely fate will be to matter less than Africa in the geopolitics of the 21st Century. Morales is quite correct when he says:


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  • UnEducated...?: Watching a documentary in the UK about the overthrowing of read more
  • pc: #14 PC, Our policy of prohibition funds the narcos. After read more
  • M. Simon: #14 PC, Our policy of prohibition funds the narcos. After read more

It's the Numbers, Stupid!

By Demosophist at 00:35

A Latvian friend of mine is puzzled by the enormous demonstrations erupting hither and yon in opposition to the Sensenbrenner Bill. His take is that it's rational to restrict entry, especially since the jobs these workers take would otherwise go to poorer Americans. So why does the "left" appear to hate poor people so much? Well, it's not really very complicated. It's the numbers.


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  • Tom Holsinger: Jim, I'm a Republican. My father was a Democrat. He read more
  • Jim Rockford: Tom -- "The data Panetta and my father relied on, read more
  • Tom Holsinger: Jim, The data Panetta and my father relied on, as read more

March 27, 2006

Moderate Muslims sighted in Madison

By Joe Katzman at 14:32

Uncle Jimbo says his search for 'moderate Muslims' is over.


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  • The Lounsbury: Quite true, alliteration and poor rhyming are not the same. read more

Monday's Winds of War: 27 Mar 2006

By WoW Team Monday at 05:38

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Peace Like a River and Security Watchtower.

Top Topics

  • A Los Angeles Times report on Saturday indicated that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within three years, an estimate previously put forth by former nuclear weapons inspector David Albright. In a speech in southern Iran on Saturday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that the "threats and intimidations by the West against Iran's nuclear programme will not hinder the final victory to be that of the Iranian nation."
  • Israeli security forces were placed on high alert on Sunday, 48 hours before the Israeli elections take place. According to Israeli radio "more than 70 warnings of planned terror attacks were registered, 16 of them 'focused' warnings." In the latest poll, Kadima still enjoys a large lead over Labor and Likud.
  • Pakistani forces using helicopter gunships killed up to 20 pro-Taliban militants near the Afghan border today, after an attack on a security post left one soldier dead, officials said. The fighting in the restive district of North Waziristan came a day after President Pervez Musharraf ordered foreign al-Qaeda militants to quit Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan or be killed.
  • British citizens were shocked to hear that a terrorist cell linked to Al-Qaeda plotted to bomb pubs, nightclubs and trains in an intense, coordinated terrorist attack in the United Kingdom. These reports emanated from the trial of terror suspects in London's courthouse, the Old Bailey. One alleged member of the terrorist cell, Mohammed Babar, a Pakistani-born American citizen who has pleaded guilty in New York to a role in the British bomb plot, is expected to testify against the British defendants.

Other topics today include: Blank check for Palestinian terrorists; Iranian oil interests; US and Iran to talk; Airstrike in Gaza; Hamas fighting with Fatah; Turkish forces clash with Kurds; majority Palestinians support terrorism & train their kids to do the same; UN wants Hezbollah to join Lebanon's army; PFLP-GC pressured to move operations to Syria; Sharm el-Sheikh suspects charged; Moussaoui trial; update on Lodi trial; more on NSA wiretaps; Terror attacks down in Chechnya; al Qaeda recruiting Azeri girls; Qu'ran controversy in Dagestan; Protests in Belarus; Tamil Tigers still kidnapping and arming children; More fighting in Nepal; ETA ceasefire; Taliban hideout in Uruzgan attacked; Fighting continues in Helmand province; Taliban vow suicide bombings; Clashes in Baluchistan; Bioterror threat in Asia; US bases in Bulgaria ok'd; fighting in Somalia; Libya to stay on terror list; GSPC kills mayor; and more.


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Iraq Report, 27 Mar/06

By Andrew Olmsted at 05:12

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • U.S. and Iraqi forces may have raided a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, though the U.S. has neither confirmed nor denied it as of this writing. Iraqi reports claim that between 18 and 22 Shiites dead in the raid. Iraqi police claim the action began when an American patrol took fire from the direction of the mosque. Acolytes of Moqtada al-Sadr claim that the attack was wholly unprovoked. Iraqi politicians are calling for an investigation, and this will likely be an issue for some time to come. Bill Roggio has a lot more detail at his place.

Other Topics Today Include: UN asks Iraqi government for restraint; Yon and civil war; Iraqi battalion takes charge; reinvesting in Iraq; terrorism insurance; reconstruction highlights; Carnival of the Liberated; Blair says Britain will draw down as Iraqis stand up; Iran helping insurgents, U.S. says; stolen museum pieces recovered.


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  • rick: Yahoo news has a relevant item: Yahoo news 'nuff said.... read more
  • C.S. Scott: U.S. and Iraqi forces may have raided a Shiite mosque read more

March 26, 2006

Threshold

By 'Cicero' at 16:43

I am quite aware of Thomas Friedman's 'Flat Earth,' and agree that globalization has done far more to spread wealth than just about any other historical economic influence. I know that telecommunications and the Internet have compressed the world economically and politically. I understand the interdependent ties between global regions and the nations within them. Look at isolated countries like North Korea or Talibanian Afghanistan, and it is obvious that in our time, countries that 'go it alone' face massive economic privations, often accompanied with the horror of internal repression.

In spite of the view that the globalized world will deliver long-term freedom and prosperity, I have begun to wonder if openness will be an option as we cross history's harsh thresholds, hidden in the tall grass. History always reaps the unexpected; its scythe is strident.


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  • MediTheHutt: Iran is going to be the power broker in the read more
  • Jim Rockford: Matt -- Spengler in the Asia Times reports that the read more
  • Alvin Rosenthal: Others have made this connection: Loose nukes => one terrorist read more

Our intrepid war correspondents

By Yehudit at 12:14

[UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens and Victor Hansen critique Michael Ware.]

Two years ago, some dumb sex therapist in California triggered at least one huge suicide bombing simply by posting an essay on the internet, for US consumption, in which she used rape as a metaphor for the US invasion of Iraq. Rumors flew all over the Middle East that thousands of US troops were raping Iraqi women.

Friday night, Time Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware got drunk on camera for Bill Maher, live from a city where alcohol is frowned upon (to put it mildly), in front of a cheering laughing studio audience, made vague allegations about US soldiers "manhandling" Iraqi women (while Maher made sarcastic asides about "good news from Iraq"), and explained how hopeless everything is. You could almost see the insurgent's hand up his butt making his little arms wave.

Seixon explains that words have consequences:


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  • OD: I find it strange that this Sexion character calls women read more
  • Mark Buehner: " You probably know that, too, it just doesn't provide read more
  • Andy Freeman: > We know that it is against interantional law to read more

Latin America: Snapshots & Mirrors

By Joe Katzman at 12:12

Marc Cooper has a pair of pieces up that are worth reading:

  • Thirty Years Later: Meeting the Death Squads. In the wake of Winds affiliate Randy Paul's reminder that Friday the 24th is the 30th anniversary of the installation of the military dictatorship in Argentina, Marc Cooper has his own personal experience of being in Argentina during that time. Being invited into a green Ford Falcon = no foolin' trouble.

"Thanks to the Democratic Left list-serve I have come across a stunningly intelligent posting from a previously unknown (to me) and mysterious blogger. Oso Raro over at Slaves of Academe is one smart gal -- though that's all she let's us know about her.

But what a thrillingly intelligent (and wonderfully long) essay she has penned about the new Hero Worship around one, um, er, Hugo Chavez. Though, that's not really fair. Her take is much deeper than that and -- from a definite left-of-center position-- probes the psyche of First World Leftists who have an insatiable need to project their own frustrated dreams on some tin-pot character like Col. Chavez. It's what she calls The Che Complex..."

It's one heck of an essay, and grapples with a certain important trrain from a left-wing perspective that works like Hollander's "Political Pilgrims" have addressed from the center-right. One more building stone in the "Decent Left" movement represented by folks like Democratiyya; the exchanges in Marc's comments section are also ineresting in a weird sort of way.


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  • Mike Daley: Joe, How can I believe anything promulgated by a person read more
  • Joe Katzman: Mike, of course she's in a different, self-created reality. She's read more
  • Mike Daley: Joe, I was humming right along with Oso Raro's commentary read more

The US State Department and "Genocide"

By Joe Katzman at 09:09

Here's a good illustration of why the US State Department enjoys "impaired trust and respect" (to use diplospeak) in many American quarters. I'm actually forced to agree with the L.A. Times here, there just isn't the slightest doubt about what happened to the Armenians, and engaging in this kind of quasi-revisionism is deeply offensive....

On a more current note, we'll remind our readers of the ongoing Arab anti-black genocide in Darfur, supported by the Arab League and China. If you have a blog, consider joining the Million Voices for Darfur campaign:

Million Voices for Darfur


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  • Addiction Treatment: The Save Darfur Coalition was created with the goal of read more
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Don't Look for U.N. Help on Iran

By Joe Katzman at 08:03

Small Town Veteran notes that Britain is moving toward a more confrontational approach with Iran. Captain's Quarters notes that Russia and China are bought off by Iran and remain so - and thus, the UN avenue Britain is attempting to preserve is also bought and paid for.

"We have reached the point where the Western nations looking to defend themselves from Islamofascist threats need to band together instead of working through a dead process at Turtle Bay. The UN does not preserve peace; it preserves the status quo, and unfortunately that allows rogue nations like Iran the breathing room they need to make those developing threats a reality. We need to recognize that and act on it. The US and the UK are not required to commit suicide in the cause of upholding the credibility of international organizations that have already demonstrated themselves as hopelessly corrupt and demonstrably inert."


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  • rocketsbrain: IRAQ - God Lied, People Died? K. Fard, I think read more
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  • K.Fard: The US and Britain are the rouge nations and warmongers read more

Yes, it's a parody. We think.

By Yehudit at 02:53

More "News from the Near Future" from Kesher Talk contributor Van Wallach:

April 1, 2006: Yale University has announced it will award an honorary degree to Palestinian-American activist Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.

University president Richard Levin told a press conference, "Sirhan is an outstanding representative of the Palestinian people, a true fighter for the rights of Palestinians to live peacefully in their own homeland. Tragically, he has been a political prisoner of the U.S. government for almost 40 years, simply for acting on his beliefs. While we cannot give back to Sirhan those lost decades of his life, we can give him an honorary degree, suitable for framing."


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  • GK: A quote from Senator Edward Kennedy on this matter would read more
  • Van: Dear Winds of Change readers, yes, this is a PARODY. read more
  • Joe Katzman: The Jodie Foster line was inspired. read more

March 25, 2006

Chris Bliss' Extraordinary Finale

By Joe Katzman at 11:45

Some of you may have seen posts about Chris Bliss' extraordinary Tonight Show juggling finale. If you haven't, then head right on over here and click on "The Big Finale."

It's worth having a less-encumbered processor to really get the most out of the video, which is very timing-based. Playback needs to be smooth to give a full appreciation of the brilliance of the act. You may want to quit a couple of other programs first - or not, if you have the horsepower.

His comedic clips are also quite good, and so is his page/ audio clip set that talks about the techniques of comedy and offers illustrations.


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  • Joe Katzman: "The Jimmy Hendrix of juggling." Good description, I like that. read more
  • wf: Wow! That guy is like the Jimmy Hendrix of juggling. read more
  • George Junior: If you're into juggling, you might want to check out read more

Fabrizio Quattrocchi Awarded Medaglia d'Oro

By Joe Katzman at 10:32

Some of you may remember a man named Fabrizio Quattrocchi (here's a hint: "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies!") The President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, signed a decree this past week awarding him a posthumous "Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Civile" the "Gold Medal for Civic Valour", I believe.

James S. Robbins still has the best article out there explaining why this medal is very much deserved. For further enlightenment, this may help.


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  • Joe Katzman: Which, in point of fact, he was by reasonable definitions read more

The Brutal[ly Funny] Truth About Iraq

By Armed Liberal at 07:06

Here's a video showing the harsh reality of the Iraqi insurgency. Well, not really, but it's funny.


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  • PC: I do not find them frightening. I am not the read more
  • Armed Liberal: PC, we'll win a faster and more certain victory when read more

March 24, 2006

The Chickenhawk Paradox

By Yehudit at 20:36

Sometimes I am really glad I don't own a TV or a firearm, because watching something like this would tempt me to use one of them to destroy the other.

Via Callimachus who also pointed me to the perfect rejoinder:
So, let me get this straight. . . if you support the war but don’t join up with the armed forces to go and fight, lefties scream “CHICKENHAWK!” at you, implying that your lack of military experience invalidates your opinion. On the other hand, if you’re over there, your opinion on the legitimacy of the war isn’t to be trusted because you’re obviously some sort of moron who couldn’t get a job elsewhere, much less a college education.
One of the many participants in the several rambunctious and entertaining comment threads on this topic supplied some data on the demographics and educational levels of our troops.

(And how are our armed forces coping with the rigors of university life? Check it out . . . . )

UPDATE: Another commenter heard from, this time over at Vodkapundit:
Kerry was an expert on the war because he was a soldier. It was what he based his presidential campaign on. But the Swifties were partisan scum.

Jack Murtha has credibility because....wait for it. He was a Marine! And those potential Democrat candidates that the party so wanted to run in 2006 against Republicans had credibility precisely because, they were soldiers!

But these men & women presently engaged and on the ground in harm's way, what the hell do they know? They're losers, idiots and worse. Until that is, one of them speaks out against his brothers and sisters in arms, then he'll be a hero.

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  • Nortius Maximus: Perhaps I need to make something else explicit: To the read more
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Say Goodbye, Ben

By Armed Liberal at 18:39

I’d dismissed the Ben Domenech (the RedState blogger just hired by the Washington Post) issue as a combination of blogger inside baseball and the usual spittle-flecked rant against the right by Duncan Black.

But looking deeper into it, it sure looks like the guy is a) careless with words – a bad characteristic for a professional writer (if he thinks Coretta King was a Communist, and said so carelessly, that’s worse to me than if he’d meant it. If he’d meant it, we could judge him and in this case most likely dismiss him as a moron. If he’s that careless with words, he say anything and we'd wonder what we should take seriously...); and b) a serial plagiarizer.

Now I don’t think that b) is particularly an issue for blogs (if it matters enough to be read, the blogger involved will almost certainly get busted) or for the right (unlike Matt Stoller who says: This Ben Domenech debacle is more than a sad story of a young conservative with integrity problems. The toxic brew of racism and dishonesty is really part of their DNA, and it has practical real world consequences.), but I do think it’s a significant issue for journalism, and since a job at the Post is a job in journalism – I think he ought to step out or be shown the door.


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  • Wizener: LMAO. If I'm a "tool", what does that make you? read more
  • Armed Liberal: Wizener, you're a tool. Demonizing those who disagree with you read more
  • Wizener: The person who really should resign after this embarrassment, his read more

Winds of War: March 24/06

By Colt at 09:33

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Thursday's Winds of War briefings are given by Matt 'Colt' of Eurabian Times.

TOP TOPICS

  • Seven British men are on trial for planning a terrorist campaign in Britain. They were found to have over a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilise as well as aluminium powder. Potential targets included Bluewater shopping mall, trains and nightclubs. One of the accused men is accused of trying to purchase a radiological bomb from Russia mafia contacts in Belgium. The Times has lots of information about the American 'supergrass' whose evidence is so vital to the case. Mohammed Babar went to Pakistan shortly after 9/11 to join the jihad. After meeting Omar Bakri Muhammad and Abu Hamza, he prepared for terrorist attacks in Britain.
  • ETA has thrown in the towel and announced a permanent ceasefire. They have demands, of course: legalise Batasuna, a referendum on self-determination and an 'end to repression'

Other Topics Today Include: Britain wants tough options on Iran; China follows Russia; Japan to continue oil field development; Israel charges A-Q cell; PFLP-GC offers to join Leb. Army; Hamas doubletalk; Egypt attack thwarted?; Jordan Islamists optmistic; Iraq documents reveal Russian perfidy; U.S.-Iran talks on Iraq; terrorist 'doctor' kills 43; AQ in Saudi Arabia replaces dead commanders; FARC leaders indicted; Albany imam charged; Bolivia bombings; Frenchman throw packages at White House; Danish imam recorded calling for assassination; more rioting in France's 'suburbs'?; '10 Euros for Resistance'; Lords back down on 'glorification' clause; Kadyrov says Basayev has no safe haven; Kazakhstan applauds Uzbek handling of Islamic riots; the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan; five SeS convicted of terror charges; 172 terror camps in Bangladesh; Afghan faces death for conversion to Christianity; North Korea says it can carry out pre-emptive strike; JI's young leader; crackdown on Abu Sayyaf; communist, Islamist rebels form alliance; Pentagon praises Morocco; calls for U.S. troops for Sudan; more fighting in Mogadishu; EU force for Congo; and much more.


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How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Mullahs and Embrace The Bomb

By Guest Author at 06:56
Nuclear airburst
by "Dr. Strangelove," a.k.a. Mark Buehner

Why We Must Nuke Iran; or
How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Mullahs and Embrace The Bomb

American foreign policy is approaching a crisis more catastrophic than any since at least World War 2. According to some sources, the terrorist nation of Iran has already acquired an unknown number of nuclear weapons of at least the Hiroshima variety. Trent Telenko has written about the high likelihood of Iran being in possession of nuclear weapons, and the "certainty of nuclear war" should we attempt to divest them of these weapons via a bombing campaign as some have suggested. Ladies and Gentlemen, this evidence is impossible to ignore. Even if by some unlikely quirk our Intelligence Services prove incorrect about Iran’s current state of nuclear readiness, it is still only a matter of time before the Mullahs retain a full nuclear arsenal, perhaps rivaling our own. Perhaps soon.

As glorious as the halcyon days of the Cold War proved to be, with our shining bombers and prowling submarines on constant standby to shower our enemies with American ingenuity, those days are gone forever. A standoff with Iran will prove to be a messy affair of dirty bombs and irradiated oil wells, hardly worthy of our bravest warriors and finest minds. The Mullahs have shown themselves to be mad religious zealots eager to martyr themselves and as many of their flock as possible, as quickly as possible. We would do well to send them on their way.


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  • Mark Buehner: "It sells T-shirts, buttons, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, greeting cards, read more
  • PD Shaw: Its also Buehner's fault that Winds has now attracted comment read more
  • Tom Holsinger: Put down your coffee. For safety reasons. Then go here: read more

Civil War: Special Case of an Old Problem

By Demosophist at 04:56

This is my first post on WoC since being invited to join. I've been somewhat reluctant to participate until now partly because I have such great respect for the level of discourse that goes on here, and partly because I'm undergoing momentous changes in my personal and professional life. But Armed Liberal's post about Juan Cole's attempt to politicize and cheapen the term "Civil War" finally got me back to my ergonomic keyboard.

I don't really have that much to say, but the gist of it is that the meaning associated with the term "civil war" has undergone an astounding transformation since John Aubrey used it in Brief Lives to describe the "Civil Warre" precipitated by Oliver Cromwell. It was this war that both halted and transformed the militant radicalization of Protestantism, taming it and turning it into the "Spirit of Capitalism" that became the engine transforming the United States and bringing the "Whig Rebellion" to its fulfillment. And that war also inoculated England against the virus of absolutism that eventually set the Continent grovelling in it's own gore, launching the French Revolution (the mother of all modern totalitarian movements, including Al Qaeda).


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  • Kierkegaard: Historically, the term 'civil war' meant an armed struggle between read more
  • PD Shaw: I think Iraq is in warre, though not a civill read more

Hummer Deathtraps Suck

By Joe Katzman at 01:08
LAND_M1114_HMMWV_IEDed.jpg
HMMWV, IEDed
(click to view full)
Over at DID, I note that the US military has just begun fielding a new variant of the HMMWV jeep: the M1151 and M1152. Think of them as Hummer v2.1.

The good news is that the new hummers are designed for rapid installation and removal of armor in the field, with minimal tools and support. This greatly simplifies logistics and upgrades, and allows the armor to be removed when it isn't needed so the Hummers will last a little longer (up-armored HMMWV suspensions die quickly due to all the extra weight).

The bad news is that despite the armor improvements, the HMMWV remains trapped in 1980s thinking. It was designed to make use of American auto-industry experience, and leverage civilian approaches. That's why Ah-nold now has a personal fleet to drive around town, and the decision did help lower costs. It's also why the HMMWV was built with a conventional flat bottom and frame.

The thing is, flat bottoms are mine-blast traps. It's possible to provide some protection, but the martial arts equivalent would be a style that requires you to catch the full force of every punch head-on.

LAND_M1114_HMMWV_Armor.jpg
Not a real solution.
Not a huge problem when the only mines around are the ones you're laying in front of advancing Soviet troops. Today? Big problem, which continues to kill Americans, 3 years after Operation Iraqi Freedom began. And the US military procurement system continues to churn out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of up-armored Hummers... that will be left in Iraq afterward, because the extra armor's weight kills their suspensions et. al.

Burning money, burning troops. It's beyond ridiculous - and there is a better way...


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  • SR: "Would these upgraded "M113A4" vehicles survive IED attacks as well read more
  • J.Morgan: I disagree with flat bottomed Humvee's being mine traps. A read more
  • EdWonk: Our's is the country which at one time could produce read more

March 23, 2006

Civil War - In The American Streets

By Armed Liberal at 22:48
My second-least favorite academic, Juan Cole (I know, I still read him, even though his site is little more than a list of those who have been killed in Iraq) approvingly cites a U Mich study that defines “civil war”:
' That there should be a political controversy over whether there is a civil war in Iraq is a tribute to the Bush administration's Orwellian attention to political rhetoric. By the most widely accepted social science measure, Iraq is incontestably in a civil war.

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  • Mark Buehner: Krauthammer is absolutely on the money. Dead on correct. We read more
  • Robert Schwartz: Of Course It's a Civil War by Charles Krauthammer, Friday, read more
  • PD Shaw: Juan Cole cites an article by J. David Singer, the read more

Good News & Bad From Iraq's Front Lines

By Joe Katzman at 14:58

Tony writes in with a tip from the Peoples' Republic of Boulder, CO. This guy is a hero:

"I ran back to the lead vehicle and told the major what was up. He agreed with me that we didn't have time to try and get them to retrieve their own. He asked me what I wanted to do. I said I want to get them sir. So the plan was to take the lead vehicle with the .50 cal and cross the street while shooting down the street and get to the wounded. I suggested that we shoot out the street lights before we cross. He agreed and we shot them all out. We mounted up, closed the doors and the Major told everyone else the plan. As the driver punched the humvee I gave the .50 cal gunner a "good game" slap. The Major told the gunner to open up, and he did. Damn that thing was loud. We crossed the street ok. I could see a soldier sitting with his back to a pick up truck. His rifle was on the ground, and his chin was tucked in his chest. The driver was told to pull up as close as he could to the wounded soldier. He did, and I grabbed my aid bag, put my rifle down, removed my M-9 from its holster, chambered a round, and returned it to its holster. I looked across at the major who was sitting in the rear seat behind the Commanders seat. I said well sir here goes. I got out, and maintained a low profile as I ran to the wounded Iraqi. I got to him and took a knee. There was alot of blood. He was shot in both legs. I reached into my vest and grabbed a ratchet strap and ratcheted his right leg. He looked up at me which was a good sign so far at least he was conscious. As I was reaching for the second ratchet which was in my bag, rounds started impacting the pickup on the opposite side. [more...]"

Good news:

  • The personal heroism of the 101st Airborne combat medic writing this.
  • The ratchet straps that saved the Iraqi's life, and probably a few others before all is said and done, were donated and sent to Iraq by fellow Hannity Forum members.

Bad news:

  • Why he had to be doing this in the first place.

It's not the story everywhere in Iraq, by any means. But it is the story sometimes, as it would be in most non-western (and some Western) militaries throughout the world. When you hear military analysts talking about how quality of leadership is especially important at the NCO and to some extent the junior officer levels, think of this story. This is what they're talking about.


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  • coldsteel: American military forces have proven themselves time & again over read more
  • paininthebut: Did the Iraqi soldiers have the same quality flack jackets read more
  • acassa: Glen made excellent points, and I agree completely. I never read more

Gene Expressions: New Insights Into The Workings of Evolution

By Joe Katzman at 05:13

How is evolution kind of like the famous TV show "Iron Chef"? Gareth Cook has some answers. Short version?

"In every cell, there are genes that create the proteins that are the building blocks of life. But these proteins can also work as signals, turning on or off other genes. The proteins from these genes may affect still more genes. So a protein from a single gene can set off a cascade of other changes."

Scientists have suspected for a while that genes may be more about combinations and interactions than linear instructions. If they're right that it's the expressions and combinations that are key, then genetic engineering becomes both potentially easier and far, far more complex. The research is just beginning to come in, and we don't have the answers yet. Still, we'll never get to the answers if we don't pursue the ideas in a scientific manner, and look for them properly.


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  • Gene Thug: Roger, Your post got me thinking about gradual vs. punctuated read more
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  • M. Simon: One might look at the evolution of Ashkenazi Jews and read more

Carnival of the Etymologies

By 'Callimachus' at 04:24
[A regular Thursday feature of "Done With Mirrors"]
Politicks is the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men's view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed. [Fisher Ames (1758–1808)]
Politics may not have fixed principles, but as it is impossible to discuss it without fixed terms, it has a vocabulary. The words used to define positions and factions in politics are as slippery as any words in any language.
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  • PD Shaw: Great list. One possible modification. I think the term "conservation" read more

March 22, 2006

'Till It's Over Over There...

By Armed Liberal at 23:52

Neo – Neocon has started a series of posts on propaganda in wartime; her latest is focused on the famous “Four Freedoms” paintings Norman Rockwell did during WWII.

By odd synchronicity, we’d just watched James Cagney’s WWII film “Yankee Doodle Dandy” – it turns out that Littlest Guy shares our affection for musicals, so we’re bringing him from Sondheim to Singin’ In The Rain to Yankee Doodle Dandy as a quick tour d’horizon.

And about fifteen minutes into YDD, I picked up the Netflix sleeve to see when it had been made – and noted, as I’d expected, that it had been made during WWII.

The naked patriotism – bleeding over to jingoism - of the film can be captured in two quotes and an image.

The image is the poster for the film (lifted from Tim Dirks site “The Greatest Films” - http://www.filmsite.org/ as are the cites) seen here:

yank.gif


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  • Daniel Markham: LOL. Ok C. "If the suspect has a plausible motive, read more

Those Military Death Statistics

By Robin Burk at 18:47
Proud Kaffir over at RedState.org criticizes MSM reporting about military deaths, earning an Instalanche today.
Even during the (per MSM) utopic peacetime of Bill Clinton's term, we lost 4302 service personnel. H.W. Bush and Reagan actually lost significantly more personnel while never fighting an extensive war, much less a simulaltaneous war on two theaters (Iraq and Afghanistan). Even the dovish Carter lost more people duing his last year in office, in 1980 lost 2392, than W. has lost in any single year of his presidency. (2005 figures are not available but I would wager the numbers would be slightly higher than 2004.) In 2004, more soldiers died outside of Iraq and Afghanistan than died inside these two war zones (900 in these zones, 987 outside these zones). The reason is that there are usually a fair number that die every year in training accidents, as well as a small number of illness and suicide. Yet the MSM would make you think that US soldiers are dying at a high number in these zones, and at a significantly higher number than in past years or under past presidents. This is all simlpy outright lies and distortion.
Unfortunately, this analysis is flawed in several ways, as the following graph shows.
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  • Robin L. Torske, CPO, USN(RET): 09 June, 2007 Just "stumbled" onto your article and discussion read more
  • John Barbour: Nobody cares about 'percentages of those who died' until someone read more

Iraqi cameraman for CBS to go on trial

By Robin Burk at 17:52

Last April I posted about the arrest of a CBS cameraman in Iraq who was suspected of aiding insurgent attacks.

Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein will go on trial in Iraq on April 5th. Expect intense media focus on this.


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Tony Blair: Naming the Enemy

By Joe Katzman at 10:00

It has taken too long, but it is starting. Courtesy of Harry's place, we bring you Tony Blair, ladies and gentlemen, in yet another very fine speech:

"This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don't mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.

But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists."

There's more. On the domestic front:


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  • LTEC: Canada has a Question Period, but no great speakers. Even read more

Debate Over Warmer Seas & Hurricanes Heating Up

By Joe Katzman at 04:42

An artcle in the March 17 issue of the journal Science believes that a rise in the world's sea surface temperatures was a statistically significant contributor to the formation of stronger hurricanes since 1970, and contends that stronger storms are likely to be the norm in future hurricane seasons.

Other scientists see the rising strength of hurricanes as being part of natural weather cycles in the world's oceans, via the Atlantic multi-decadal mode. The Atlantic Ocean is currently going through an active period of hurricane activity that began in 1995 and which has continued to the present. The previous active cycle lasted from the late 1920s to 1970, and peaked around 1950.

An article at LiveScience recaps some of the issues, and the debate.


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These Guys Do What For a Living?

By Armed Liberal at 01:04
The New York Times has an editorial slamming the Administration for their
accommodation of the mining industry — notably by packing the mine safety agencies with pro-management appointees — has produced a marked decline in major fines for negligent companies. A recent data analysis by The Times documented a risky, business-friendly downturn in penalties since 2001.
Sadly, the professional journalists at the Times couldn't so the five minutes of research that would have told them that - with the exception of an outlier to date this year - deaths under the Bush Administration are significantly lower than those under pro-labor Clinton.

Go back and read my old post (linked above) and marvel at the diligence of our national newspaper of record.


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  • perscription drugs online: Maybe the death rate is lower, but, certainly, level of read more
  • Thorley Winston: It is a very poor statistical analysis that attempts to read more
  • Andy Freeman: "Looking tough and sticking it to the man" is an read more

50 Helpful Writing Tips

By Joe Katzman at 00:59

Roy Peter Clark from the Poynter Institute has posted 50 tips and mental tools that can help you become a better writer.

"...You will become handy with these tools over time. You will begin to recognize their use in the stories you read. You will see chances to apply them when you revise your own work. Eventually, they will become part of your flow, natural and automatic..."


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  • Gordon Daugherty: But do they help you become a better speler? read more
  • Matt McIntosh: Thanks for the pointer, Joe! Very helpful, if only I read more

March 21, 2006

The Media's Latest Lie – A "Civil War" in Iraq

By Trent Telenko at 12:51

It is a wonder that the Blogosphere hasn’t picked up on the latest media “Frame” on the war in Iraq – that Iraq is in purportedly in the middle of a civil war - and taken it apart like the propaganda it is.

What is going on in Iraq today is a losing terrorist campaign hyped by media spin as a civil war because the public no longer believes their prior “frame” that we were losing to the terrorists . This is easily proven with a simple comparison with Bosnia Herzegovina’s real civil war in the early-to-mid 1990s. Today there are 26 million Iraqis, according to the CIA’s Fact Book. There are four million Bosnians of whom about half (two million) are Muslim.

Bosnia Herzegovina’s Muslim population lost 200,000 dead in four years from 1992-1995’s civil war with the Serbs. That averages about 50,000 dead a year of two million Muslims, about one killed per forty people per year.

If the civil strife in post-liberation Iraq matched that of real civil war in Bosnia ten years ago, there would be 650,000 Iraqi fatalities per year – say 1800 dead Iraqis a day from “sectarian strife” to match the average death rate of Bosnia Herzegovina’s civil war.


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SAIC Employees Union Blogging its IPO

By Joe Katzman at 02:37

Well, this is interesting. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) is a pretty famous employee-owned consultancy that specializes in scientific assistance, engineering help with advanced technologies, and IT. They do a fair bit of military work, including an interesting RFID contract with the National Center for Employment of the Disabled (NCED) in El Paso, Texas that I covered recently. But that isn't the story.

They're currently in the middle of a capital restructuring and IPO after taking a serious loss on work for the 2004 Athens Olympics, but that (in and of itself) isn't the story, either.

The interesting story is that Local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union has set up SAIC IPO Watch, a blog about the process. It intends to cover the likely cost of taking SAIC public, including a discussion of who might win and who might lose as a result of the IPO process; as well how the market might respond to a SAIC IPO and how that might impact employees and shareholders. It looks interesting as an different point of view on the whole process, and the author(s) appear to be doing their research.

SAIC has its own IPO mini-site, of course, but this is definitely a new wrinkle in the industry. Or, as far as I know, any industry. Expect to see more of it.


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March 20, 2006

Fat, Drunk, And Stupid Is No Way To Run The Kennedy School

By Armed Liberal at 20:07

Over at Michael Totten's joint, Lee Smith Tony Badran writes the post I've been meaning to about the hysterical (as in ha-ha hysterical) Harvard study on the pernicious power of the "Israel Lobby" in defining US foreign policy.

A few great grafs:
Pretty much any American who has ever been in a motorized vehicle knows that the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy is Washington's relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and has been so since the mid-30s. It is a vital national interest – not just because cheap fuel permits Americans to drive SUVs, but because protecting the largest known oil-reserves in the world ensures a stable world economy. Moreover, the US military counts on access to that oil in the event it has to wage war – an activity that demands a lot of oil.

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  • tblubrd: Good post AL - and I agree. I went and read more
  • SoCalJustice: BTW all three of my kids are/were at Northwestern. more read more
  • Robert Schwartz: Mr. Simon, me too (B.A. '70). Write them a nasty read more

Intellectuals Repent, Iraqis Disagree

By Armed Liberal at 18:18

Chris Bertram crows over Johann Hari's repentant (and statistics-challenged) column in which he sorrowfully apologizes for having supported the war.

I'll update my criticism of Hari's facts when I get a chance to later today or tonight, but Chris somehow forgot to highlight this part of Hari's column:
POSTSCRIPT: There's been a collosal response to this article and I'm still picking through the e-mails. Over fifty from Iraqis, of which some mournfully agree, although this e-mail was more typical:
"Your article in the Independent today, 20/3/2006, was really disappointing to all of your admirers. You let them down. You changed your mind and switched from pro-war to join the anti-war campaigners, means that you gave in bowed to the aggressors. So instead of blaming the terrorists for this mass killing in Iraq at the hand of the terrorists, you put the blame on Bush and Blair for liberating Iraqi people from the worst dictator in history. If your new stance is right, then it was wrong to stand up against Hitler in the WW II, because that war caused humanity 55 million casualties. So it was better not oppose the Axis sates. Is that fair? Is this is the justice that we are looking for? If the tyrants were left to do as they like because of the possible revenge from their followers, then our glob will be place for the tyrants only and the whole planet population will be living like sheep.

Abdulkhaliq Hussein"

I certainly can't add anything to that. And Hari has no answer to it.
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  • frontinus: So, let's see if I have this straight. Invading Iraq...bad. read more

Monday's Winds of War: 20 Mar 2006

By WoW Team Monday at 05:25

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

  • At least nine policemen, a former governor, his four companions and a security guard were killed in separate attacks in Afghanistan blamed on the Taliban, officials said. A bomb blast Friday killed nine policemen who were escorting the bodies of four Albanians kidnapped by Taliban fighters last week in an area between Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand province in the south.
  • Twenty-two Iranian government and provincial officials were killed and seven others wounded in an ambush near the Shileh Bridge in the south-eastern province of Sistan-va-Baluchistan early Friday morning as their convoy was returning from a gathering in Zabol to the city of Zahedan. Among those injured in the attack was believed to be the governor of Zahedan, Hossein-Ali Nouri, who was shot five times and is in critical condition. The head of security of the Zahedan governorate also died in the attack. Iran is blaming the attack on British intelligence.

Other topics today include: al Qaeda video; Ganji released in Iran; Israeli anti-terror conference; Iran's proxy war; Religious conference in Teheran; Iranian officials ambushed; West Banks security deteriorates; Hamas' cabinet; Mofaz warns Hezbollah; Lodi trial; Moussaoui trial; al Qaeda in Lebanon; TSA focuses on explosives threat; Columbian cocaine bust; new anti-terror legislation in Russia; Weapons caches found in Chechnya; Firefight in Grozny; Belarus elections; Bombing in Ingushetia; Taliban protecting opium crops; Cartoon protests continue in Pakistan; three bombs explode in northwest Pakistan; Terrorists killed in Kashmir; US Peace Corps pulls out of Bangladesh; Bangladesh's war on terror; Rice trip to Asia; UN office in Sudan attacked; US Navy foils Somalian pirates; the Algerian insurgency; Counterterrorism in the Horn of Africa; and more.


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  • GK: An article on how war deaths are dropping exponentially across read more

Iraq Report, 20 Mar/06

By Andrew Olmsted at 02:04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

Other Topics Today Include: President Bush sets goal for Iraq turnover; U.S. strategy review; reconstruction highlights; the Goldilocks principle; Carnival of the Liberated; no U.S. bases in Iraq; Aziz asks to visit Moscow.


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  • Joe Katzman: Tom H, over to you.... read more
  • Meteor Blades: Any word on that nuclear test that was predicted here read more

March 19, 2006

An Anniversary

By Armed Liberal at 18:11

I can't let the anniversary of the start of the Iraq war go unremarked.

My thoughts are with everyone over there - our troops, our allies, and most of all the Iraqis.

Knowing everything I know today, I would have made the same decision three years ago - to support the invasion.

Knowing everything I know today, I still don't know how it will come out. And neither does anyone else; so when you read proclamations of victory or defeat, I'd take a moment and reflect first on the messiness of history.

We are in an arduous struggle against a strong and evil enemy. We hope to win without becoming evil ourselves, and while that makes the struggle far harder, it is the only thing that makes it worthwhile.

[edited amazingly clunky grammar]


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  • Matt McIntosh: Fabio, Evidence? How's this: there was a meeting in 2001 read more
  • FabioC.: Axis of Evil or not, I'm not so sure Iran read more
  • Heiko Gerhauser: Matt, good to see some sense on Iran. There are read more

Motes And Beams

By Armed Liberal at 18:00

Lots of real-life stuff this weekend, and today I need to go fix TG's motorcycle and one of my own.

But I scanned my Bloglines feeds this morning, and came across one thing you folks probably haven't read and should.

It's by Marc Cooper, a man who brutally kills defenseless fishes for fun and between times writes hella smart commentary at the L.A. Weekly and his own blog.
Pajamas Media also has a round-up of blog postings on the Cuban anniversary. All of the links are to conservative or right-wing blogs. The reason is unfortunate. There are no liberal blogs marking this anniversay today. At least none that can be easily found.

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Democratiyya #4: Toward a Decent Left

By Joe Katzman at 09:00

The latest issue of Democratiyya is out.

  • Harry's Place recommends "Camus' Catch: How democracies can defeat Totalitarian Political Islam" by Alan Johnson. I particularly liked the analysis of "Left Westphalianism," but really the most powerful aspect is the item after item he cites showing the Indecent Left in co-belligerency or even outright collaboration with totalitarian Islam. Yet he also offers constructive suggestions, and a framework for the Long War that includes what Armed Liberal calls the War on Bad Philosophy.

"Civilised discourse analyses and defines scientific truths, historic truths and matters of fact relating to knowledge, not to faith. And it does this irrespective of race or confession. We may believe these facts are profane or undignified, yet they remain distinct from religious truths. Our planet is not in the grips of a clash of civilisations or cultures. It is the battleground of a decisive struggle between two ways of thinking. There are those who declare that there are no facts, but only interpretations – so many acts of faith. These either tend toward fanaticism ('I am the truth') or they fall into nihilism ('nothing is true, nothing is false'). Opposing them are those who advocate free discussion with a view to distinguishing between true and false, those for whom political and scientific matters – or simple judgement – can be settled on the basis of worldly facts, independently of arbitrary pre-established opinions."

An excellent expansion on Wafa Sultan's points. FYI, Democratiyya is largely a magazine of the Left, and indeed seems to be emerging as the flagship publication of the Decent Left. Here's what it's all about, in its own words:

"Democratiya believes that in a radically changed world parts of the left have backed themselves into an incoherent and negativist 'anti-imperialist' corner, losing touch with long-held democratic, egalitarian and humane values. In some quarters, the complexity of the post-cold-war world, and of US foreign policy as it has developed since 9/11, has been reduced to another 'Great Contest': 'The Resistance' (or 'Multitude') against 'Imperialism' (or 'Empire'). This world-view has ushered back in some of the worst habits of mind that dominated parts of the left in the Stalinist period: manicheanism, reductionism, apologia, denial, cynicism. Grossly simplifying tendencies of thought, not least the disastrous belief that 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' are once again leading to the abandonment of democrats, workers, women and gays who get on the wrong side of 'anti-imperialists' (who are considered 'progressive' simply because they anti-American).


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  • Joe Katzman: Guys, this discussion really needed to be in the Wafa read more
  • AMac: Matoko, no more time today but I read your questions, read more
  • matoko_aukousmatikoi: AMac, how do you reconcile "you are a heretic and read more

Career Opportunities: Sen. Coburn's staff, FDD Academic fellows anti-terrorism

By Joe Katzman at 03:30

A couple of career-related opportunities just crossed by Inbox, and I thought I'd let Winds of Change.NET readers know.

We'll start with Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. [R-OK]. This is the guy who annoyed his GOP colleagues by publicly ripping Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" - a move that killed it in the end. Right he's taking on Congressional earmarks, and moving to shut down that "favour factory" Abramoff (and many others) exploited. So what's his next move? He's looking for a defense & security staffer to poke into financial and spending issues in the Homeland Security, Defense, and international relations areas. Details here.

Second, The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is accepting applications for its Academic Fellows anti-terrorism training program. During this 10-day course (May 27-June 7, travel inclusive), participants interact with academics, diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and politicians from Israel, Jordan, India, Turkey and the United States. They also visit military bases, border zones and other security installations to learn the practical side of deterring terrorist attacks. All expenses are paid by FDD. FDD runs a similar program for undergraduate students that prepares them for national security careers... details re: the professor and student programs here.


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March 18, 2006

Energy Conservation Moving Up Pentagon's Agenda

By Joe Katzman at 18:22
MISC_NAB_Coronado_Solar_Parking_Lot.jpg
NAB Coronado parking
(click to view full)

DID has covered contracts that begin to illustrate the US military's massive requirement for fuel, and also noted measures like wind power installations, the US Navy's alternative energy projects, R&D efforts like camouflage solar structure surfaces from Konarka, Solar Integrated, et. al., the installation of fuel cells, and more. And how about this solar parking lot? Meanwhile, advanced green technologies like hybrid drive vehicles offer both fuel economy and stealth benefits in combat, a significant plus in the urban warfare scenarios that appear to be such a big part of future wars.

The truth is that the military can't live without fuel, but every gallon of it is both a logistics burden and a financial burden. While some military items cannot realistically be converted, every conservation success or renewable energy conversion within the military's jurisdiction makes it more deployable to the field, and more self-sufficient once there. Now add the fact that diversified "green infrastructure" lowers vulnerability to the kind of "system disruption" attacks one sees in Iraq, and the military/ security benefits become compelling. That means the military will be willing to invest in these technologies even when the dollars and cents case alone may be in question. It's a trend that has already started... and it's about to pick up speed.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) is Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Projection Forces subcommittee. He has been talking about Peak Oil issues [PDF format] for about a year now, and recently discussed a September 2005 Army Corps of Engineers Report entitled "Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations" [PDF format] in the House. Part of its conclusions section notes:

Read the rest at Defense Industry Daily...


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V For Vendetta

By Armed Liberal at 08:09

Just saw it (blogging from my Treo in the theater lobby). Go see it.

It's not a great film - but it's a powerful one.

Note: I'm going to close comments off - in a week or so when more people have actually seen it, I'll toss a post and we can debate it.


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Bruce Lee: The 'Lost' Interview

By Joe Katzman at 02:03

Wizbang Pop! has a video of Bruce Lee's interview with Canadian host Pierre Berton. Fascinating interview, just Bruce talking about his craft and his philosophies. You'll also get to see why Pierre Berton became something of a Canadian institution. And as author MacStanbury notes: "And now I know that I don't want to get in a fight with Steve McQueen...."


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March 17, 2006

Desperate Housewives Meets Delta Force

By Trent Telenko at 18:06

Strap on your seat belts and put down your coffee! The makers of Desperate Housewives at CBS have discovered the military’s Delta Force and sees plot potential! Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Haney book "Inside Delta Force is being made into a TV series titled “THE UNIT.” It has attracted the support of “Desperate Housewives” sponsor CBS chief executive Les Moonves.

This is what CNN says about it:


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  • Kierkegaard: Here's a link to my quickie review of 'The Unit" read more
  • Canucklehead: I agree with Gordon. I saw the first two episodes read more
  • S Duerr: Isn't Desperate Houswives on ABC? read more

Port Security - Too Important For Posturing

By Armed Liberal at 06:35

Kevin Drum is all upset that a safe ports bill - HR4899 - was just put down by the GOP.

I'm huge on port security, and have been for years:
The power goes out, the telephones, cell phones, and computers don't work. My backup AM/SW/SSB radio in the garage doesn't work, and I step onto my driveway and look toward San Pedro and see a dark mushroom cloud.

We'll skip over the fact that all the electronics in the area are kaput because of EMP, and hypothesize a working TV or radio, which informs me that it appears that a small…5KT…nuke has just exploded on a container ship in San Pedro harbor, along with another one in Red Hook, just across from Manhattan, and another one at the container yard in Seattle.

So I was kinda concerned when I read it as well.
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  • congratulations: do you understand how stupid this make every person of read more
  • Mark Buehner: "The premise that union labor would make the cost of read more

Holsinger: The United States Will Attack Iran

By Guest Author at 06:12

Tom Holsinger explains why he thinks his future scenario re: Iran (W. leads an invasion before they get nukes) is more likely than mine (no invasion, they get nukes, 10-100 million or more dead within 20 years). Or does he?

America's ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, recently made a statement on the ABC News Nightline television program which irrevocably commits the Bush administration to use any necessary means, up to and including invasion, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The Reuters story on this states:

"The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, on Wednesday compared the threat from Iran's nuclear programs to the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.

"Just like September 11, only with nuclear weapons this time, that's the threat. I think that is the threat," Bolton told ABC News' Nightline program.

"I think it's just facing reality. It's not a happy reality, but it's reality and if you don't deal with it, it will become even more unpleasant."


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  • M. Simon: A.L., One reason for the Fat Man test was that read more
  • chirpy: That was significant. read more
  • blert: 87 chirpy Time for your meds. read more

Protecting Baja's Grey Whales

By Joe Katzman at 03:18

Baja California is actually part of Mexico (no jokes about it being ahead of the curve). Concrete buildings are sprouting like weeds lately, and the region has been enjoying a boom of the same kind that made Cancun what it is today. Plus a couple of would-be mining operations. This is doubly unfortunate, as this area is also critical to the Grey Whale population.

Here at Winds, we've talked about the inseparability of ecology and conservation from economics, and specifically the economics (and culture) of the local population. Whether it's the Bengal Tigers of India, Haiti's self-inflicted Apocalypso, concepts like valuing eco-services, or other kinds of Granola Conservative concerns, the common theme is clear: local incentives matter - and so does governance.

Which is why this attempt is pleasing, though also anxiety-provoking:


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  • PD Shaw: I should add that I disagree with this: This is read more
  • PD Shaw: This is not a tragedy of the commons. . . read more
  • Serge Dedina: Just saw the comment by PD Shaw. This is a read more

Call Me Nostradamus

By Armed Liberal at 00:53

..or not.

Power Line is all over the Haaretz story about Saddam bluffing on WMD.

One quote caught my eye, however:
Senior Iraqi officials told their interrogators that Hussein had no idea what the true state of the country's weapons was, because everyone lied to him and refrained from giving him bad news for fear of being executed.
Hmmm.
So you get 'Potemkin weapons'; reports, promises, trailers filled with impressive-looking technical equipment, UAV's that are really just oversized model airplanes. Occasionally, some competent or especially frightened technician might actually produce something - but almost certainly not on the scale that the dictator believes.

So Saddam believes he has them, and from that, we infer that he does, and what is really going on is a bunch of nervous paper-shuffling.


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  • M. Simon: Andrew, Who is the policeman? Does he have unfetteered access read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: A.L.: if I tell you that I have a gun read more

CENTCOM's Gen. Abizaid's Status Reports to Congress

By Joe Katzman at 00:50

General John Abizaid (the name is Lebanese, if you're wondering) is in charge of CENTCOM, which includes the Iraqi and Afghan theaters as well as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, et. al. He testified to Congress this week about the "force posture of Central Command," which translates roughly into Canadian English as "So, like, what's doin', eh? How's it goin'?" (If the speaker is not from Toronto, they may actually want to know).

If you're serious about what's going on in this war, you owe it to yourself to read it, rather than letting potentially unreliable sources tell you what's in it. Some of the topics include "Nature of the Enemy," "Situation Overview in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa," "Other Regional Partnerships," and "Iran and Syria." Here's a couple of quick excerpts and a link.

I'm also a fan of reports from lower down the food chain. So here are a couple, good and bad, focused on Iraq. Plus an idea that makes moral and tactical sense:


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  • Jim Rockford: Robert M the flipside is Democrats are all for Gays read more
  • Joe Katzman: Advocating to let them serve openly, of course, Robert. Something read more
  • Robert M: Amazing. Sistani and al-Sadr are killing Homosexuals and you are read more

March 16, 2006

Alternate Histories

By Armed Liberal at 22:47

There’s a genre of fiction based on the premise that certain events in history happened differently; the Germans won the Second World War (Man In A High Castle), or the South won the Civil War (How Few Remain), or Czarist Russia settles North America (Ada:or Ardor).

It’s fun for people of all literary abilities.

It’s interesting to look at the chain of small events - nail:horseshoe:battle:kingdom – and have some sense that our history is made up of the accretion of countless small events which only assume their real import in hindsight. Usually it’s hard, even as a historian, to reach back and pick out the ‘turning point’ and try and understand what led up to it and then what flowed from it.

Every so often we get one, and it seems to me that the 2002 decision not to invade/bomb the Ansar al-Islam camp in northern Iraq was just such a point. I’ve assembled the links people were kind enough to contribute below the fold.

So now I’m playing with the idea of what the world would have been like if we had invaded/bombed the camp (two separate choices themselves), and I’ll work on a post outlining that as soon as I can.

Meanwhile, feel free to speculate yourselves. (A cheap way we bloggers have of getting their readers to do the work for them)


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  • Tom Holsinger: A.L., The most likely policy result is nothing because (a) read more
  • Mark Buehner: "If you want to play the "great Man" game a read more
  • Armed Liberal: I'm not so much interested in the impact of getting read more

The Cartoon Jihad: London Calling

By Joe Katzman at 19:42

The March for Free Expression in London has a blog noting support from various blogs and personalities, and serving as a coordination site for the March 25th rallies in London and Berlin. Their statement of principles says:

"The strength and survival of free society and the advance of human knowledge depend on the free exchange of ideas. All ideas are capable of giving offence, and some of the most powerful ideas in human history, such as those of Galileo and Darwin, have given profound religious offence in their time. The free exchange of ideas depends on freedom of expression and this includes the right to criticise and mock. We assert and uphold the right of freedom of expression and call on our elected representatives to do the same. We abhor the fact that people throughout the world live under mortal threat simply for expressing ideas and we call on our elected representatives to protect them from attack and not to give comfort to the forces of intolerance that besiege them."

Hopefully, it will morph over time into something more (I agree with Logan3's comment, here). Don't see UK blog Harry's Place on board yet, surprising given that their readers were the organizing backbone of the Toronto rally. Guess they're still deciding...


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  • lurker: The joint resolution of Congress authorizing the use of force read more
  • Wizener: #25 "Olbermann? ROFL. That's hilarious." What is hilarious is your read more
  • Wizener: #25 LMFAO. Your comment only serves to illustrate exactly what read more

Thursday Winds of War: March 16/06

By Colt at 14:15

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Thursday's Winds of War briefings are given by Matt 'Colt' of Eurabian Times.

TOP TOPICS

  • Remember that talk of a major attack being planned by al-Qaeda in Iraq? This may have been it. 421 al-Qaeda members were to have been given jobs guarding the 'Green Zone' in Baghdad, before storming it, taking hostages and generally wreaking havoc.
  • Israeli forces stormed Jericho prison, seeking to arrest Ahmed Sa'adat - the leader of the PFLP - and five others. The six men surrendered after pledging to stand 'with courage'. Sa'adat and four of the five are accused of murdering an Israeli minister. The sixth man was involved in the Karine A incident (a ship packed with weapons heading for Gaza, intercepted by the Israelis). Locals took nearly a dozen Westerns hostage, all of whom have been released, and attacked British offices, destroying the British Council building in Gaza.

Other Topics Today Include: Iran to get 'incremental' diplomatic punishments; indigneous reactor for Iran; Russia peeved with Iran diplomats; Aznar says Khamenei wanted to destroy America and Israel in 2001; A-Q in Sinai plans to kidnap Israelis; IDF prepare for more urban warfare; Hariri investigators say Syria mostly co-operating; Syria to run out of oil; inside Saddam's regime; Badr Corps hunts homosexuals; women's rights in the Gulf; DARPA wants to build 'insect-cyborgs' to hunt terrorists; 6,000 hits on terror watch list; Moussaoui case trouble; the tri-border region; bikers protect soldiers' funerals from crazed homophobes; 3/11 funny stuff; German group wants Koran banned; car bomb in France was criminal - police; Brits told to sue terrorists; Zapatero to talk ETA into ceasefire; Taliban get Stinger batteries from ISI; new terror gang claims India blasts; jihadi flags removed in earthquake areas; China brief; Australia gives boats to hunt JI; Abu Sayyaf courier nabbed after senior man arrested; A-Q pulls out of Somalia base; Zarqawi shifts focus; and much more.


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  • Tom Holsinger: Battlefield Preparation in the Information War from the Bolton link read more
  • Mark Buehner: "According to the interrogation of a senior Taliban official, Iran read more

UN Rally Kicks Off Anti-Slavery Sudan Freedom Walk

By Yehudit at 04:42

The Sudan Freedom Walk, covering 300 miles to call attention to the ongoing genocide and slavery of black African Sudanese, began with a rally near the UN in New York on Wednesday. About 75 people attended the event, which starts in New York and concludes on April 5 in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Building. More information about the walk, which will stop in 19 cities, can be found at www.sudanfreedomwalk.org. (Also here.)

In the interviews which follow, you will hear many unkind words about the UN, Arabs, and Islam. By people who have good cause. This was also clear at a rally in front of the UN in September 2004 (when Gloria Steinem put her foot in her mouth), and at a rally in December 2004.

Pamela also points out some ironic hyperbole from leftist antiwar group United for Peace and Justice, over a definition of "slavery."


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  • Peter Jones: cool site read more
  • James Fletcher Baxter: Consider: The missing element in every human 'solution' is read more

Terrorists have long memories

By Yehudit at 04:22

I posted about the 1977 Hanafi Muslim hostage-taking in Washington DC, in response to a post by John Leo, about this incident as a foreshadowing of the cartoon controversy. (I added some detail about their takeover of B'nai Brith Headquarters.)

One of the Hanafis' demands was that a film about the life of Mohammed not be released, in spite of the fact that a depiction of Mohammed was never shown.
The director, Moustapha Akkad, a Syrian-born Muslim, shot around the role of Muhammad, sometimes showing scenes from Muhammad's point of view, a technique familiar from Akkad's stalker-and-slasher movies.

Despite these precautions, many Muslims were irate, particularly because rumors that [Anthony] Quinn would appear as Muhammad proved unstoppable. [Quinn played Mohammed's uncle.] . . .

Later, a group of black American Muslims attacked three buildings in Washington, D.C., taking 149 hostages. One of their demands was that The Message must not be released. In a 39-hour siege, a reporter was killed and many hostages were stabbed, beaten, or shot.
Robert Schwartz points out in a comment to my post:
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  • Sirocco: his Norwegian translator was shot outside his home in Olso read more
  • John Burgess: Robert, the attack was mostly likely tied to 9/11 (Semitic read more
  • Thunder Pig: I think the real irony lies in the use of read more

The German Question: Darfur, Diplomacy & the European Media

By Joe Katzman at 02:30

The Carnival of German-American Relations is asking bloggers to submit their thoughts on the US-German relations. We've run more than a few stories on this topic over the years, from discussions to personal anecdotes to attempts to trace Germany's path to its present. But what about the future? I'll begin with yet another short but telling report from David's Medienkritik:

"In the repeated rush to judge the United States from the moral mountaintops of Europe, most German media have long forgotten Saddam Hussein's reign of terror. A morbid obsession with American crimes, real and perceived, has replaced most authentic concern for international human rights.

And the contrast couldn't be more extreme: While the German government busily promotes German industry at annual trade fairs in Khartoum, the German media quietly looks the other way as the Sudanese government continues its campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Darfur. On the other hand, when previously unseen photos of Abu Ghraib recently emerged, the German media had an absolute field day. SPIEGEL ONLINE came out with a particularly exploitative cover and finger-wagging editorials popped up like so many mushrooms. (more...)

The full post has lots of links, and is worth checking out; take time to look at their sidebar, too, which is also a fount of useful if sobering information.

Now....


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  • J Aguilar: Michael (#6) Can it somehow be saved or is it read more
  • Robin Roberts: PC, It was Europe's foreign policy that became irrelevant - read more
  • PC: A huge arrogance In US Foreign Policy, and major read more

New Energy Currents, March 2006: Deep Currents

By John Atkinson at 00:20

Peter and I were unable to get together this month's 'New Energy Currents' postings due to various unavoidable professional and academic obligations - including a mind-expanding take-home midterm for my Alternative Energy Resources class, in which I sit in a room with a bunch of engineers and try and do my best impression of being able to understand these science guys when they talk about the mechanical/physical/chemical principles underlying various alternative energy technologies. Interesting for sure, but no fun - I feel really unhappily out of touch when I don't have time for the monthly energy plow.

Fortunately, it's karmically consoling that one of my teachers from that same class, Dr. Klaus Lackner, has just published an excellent paper (with bigshot Jeffrey Sachs), "A Robust Strategy For Sustainable Energy" (PDF) that covers much of the next few years' worth of energy news in one (long) shot. You can read the press release for the report here (via Gary Jones, who has some typically worthy words on this), but the translation into enviro press release-ese doesn't really reflect the breadth of the perspective presented in the full paper, which you can and should check out here [PDF format] if you're at all interested in this issue. The authors themselves sum up their work as follows, emphases added:


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  • Jacqui: Good post! I've been returning to this subject often and read more
  • M. Simon: Just take a look at the methanol fuel cell. It read more
  • M. Simon: #5, Hope you get over your PTSD soonest. I'm told read more

Creeping Islamofascism in Turkey?

By Joe Katzman at 00:09

This doesn't sound good at all. Now couple it with items like Mein Kampf being a recent best-seller, recent films, etc.

If Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamiist AK Party's intent is in fact to end the secular Attaturk model in Turkey, these incidents could constitute indications of that. Worse, if that was in fact his goal, the approach outlined by these indicators appears to have good odds of medium-term success. I'd be interested to hear some credible folks with deeper backgrounds re: Turkey and its politics poke into these issues.

UPDATE: We ask, our commenters deliver. Here's a couple more links and books to check out.


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  • angua: A couple of interesting recent posts on the topic, through read more
  • angua: Thanks for that recommendation, John. I've just been reading Turkish read more
  • pedestrian: The source of military.com is likely to be Middle East read more

March 15, 2006

Publishing the Mohammed cartoons can get you fired

By Yehudit at 21:03
Acton Gorton, an Iraq vet, and editor of the Daily Illini, the University of Illinois newspaper, was fired yesterday, ostensibly for not involving his staff in the decision to publish, although Gordon asks:
If this was about the process and not the publishing, then why was every trace of the cartoons systematically wiped from existence at the Daily Illini’s website, including the request from the company to Google.com that they take down the cache of the original cartoons?

Another charge was that he was blogging about the controversy after being told not to. However (as per an email from his father which I will publish if I get permission) , the blog was not on a server owned by the University, he blogged on his own time, and as he was suspended at the time, he was not responsible to obey the publisher's orders.

Gordon's new attorney is a Muslim, Juniad Afeef, who explains his decision to defend Gordon here. Afeef has been active in defending secular Western values to his fellow Muslims.

You can read many of the news stories about this issue here and here, but I'm going to post a chronology using a lot of the blogposts from people who were there.


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  • TheSquire: So you know, the Daily Illini is published by the read more
  • ha...scared?: Acton is not an Iraq Veteran, I'm not sure where read more
  • PD Shaw: I used to work for WPGU, a radio station also read more

Faithful Democrats

By Armed Liberal at 18:34

In my post on sticky vs. non-sticky communities - talking about LGF and Political Animal - one point that I thought hard about was this: the 'sticky' community of LGF is relatively marginal today, while the Political Animal community has expressed intentions of actually leading a political movement.

Yesterday, Chris Bowers, at MyDD - a site that's clearly framed around electoral power, rather than commentary or random musings (like some blogs I write for hang around at, stepped up and drank the Kool-Aid.

In partial response to the post on religion at Political Animal, Chris Bowers writes:
Democrats Should Target the Limbaugh Vote, and Other Brilliant Ideas

Internalizing and following the obviously poor election strategy offered up for Democrats by pundits within the established news media is one of the greatest problems we face when trying to win elections. The basic problem is that we are repeatedly told, and repeatedly believe, that in order to win, we must not go after either swing votes or rev up our own base, but instead focus our main strategy on actually trying to win over the Republican base itself. I call this the "Democrats Must Court The Limbaugh Vote" strategy syndrome, both because we tend to follow the election advice given to us by Rush Limbaugh types, and because that advice invariably means that we must target the hard-core Rush Limbaugh audience.

You know for a smart guy, Bowers really doesn't act like one.
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  • sayke: rob - i totally agree that yale's hiding under a read more
  • Joe Katzman: No, there is not in fact the slightest excuse for read more
  • Rob Lyman: do you mean to seriously suggest that the involved yale read more

Art of the Saber: The David Effect in Action

By Joe Katzman at 17:36

Glenn Reynold's book "An Army of Davids," focuses on the implications of modern technology allowing amateurs to create work that rivals professional efforts, without having to spend a lot of money. Rather than going into a long essay about it, I'm going to offer 3 very entertaining video clips that drive the point home in a different way. Welcome to the future:

  • Ace of Spades links to a fantastic lightsaber duel, and wonders why the director of the recent Batman movie couldn't do as well with his action scenes. Ryan vs. "Dorkman" at Carco Electronics in Menlo Park, CA - with a surprise ending. Great fun, actually done a couple years ago.
  • One of his commenters points to "Art of the Saber," which takes the lightsaber duel concept and elevates it. The tools required for this excellent short? A mini-DV camera, a couple MP3s, Adobe software, some martial arts skills, and some imagination. Remarkable.
  • And here's one that tops 'em both. Continuing the Star Wars theme, Kevin Rubio's "Troops" offers a take on the life of an Imperial Storm Trooper that's a note-perfect parody of the "Cops" reality TV show. This was done in 1997; the professionalism in all aspects in jaw-dropping, the theme is actually thought-provoking, and the script's combination of perfect deadpan humour and perfect integration with the Star Wars IV story is masterful. Better than any of Lucas' last 3 movies, and here's a word from the director.

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  • Joe Katzman: Russ is right. Real weapon fights aren't all that photogenic. read more
  • Russ: Fellow fencer, repeat after me: "Suspension of disbelief." Sheesh... and read more
  • Foiled Again: This light saber thing has got me confused. Is it read more

March 15, 2006

Military Transformation Uplink: March 2006

By Murdoc at 10:23
Military Transformation Collage

Militaries around the world are moving to modernize and transform themselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our mission is to deliver a monthly cross-section of relevant, on-target stories, news, and analysis that will help experts and interested laypeople alike stay up to speed on key military developments and issues. Stories are broken down by military category and presented as fast bullet points that orient you quickly, with accompanying links if you wish to pursue more in-depth treatments.

Some of This Month's Targets of Opportunity Include: New 'bunker busters' that tunnel through stone; India moving toward more "strategic reach"; Euro UCAVs; Hunter-killer standoffs and Hellfire Jr.; FCS and urban warfare; Exoskeletons; Shooting down RPGs; Secret weapon - green laser pointers; Or how about laser blimps?; Conventional ballistic missiles and ray guns; USAF Smart Operations 21 process improvement; Budget games; QDR 2006 links and reactions; The Pentagon's FY 2007 budget request; The Pentagon's broken accounting system.

Your editors Murdoc and Joe Katzman present this monthly briefing as part of a team that includes professional publications Defense Industry Daily, Military.com's DefenseTech, and eDefense Online. To contact us with story tips, email transformation @windsofchange dot net.


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  • Murdoc: desert rat: I fixed the links. Thanks for the heads read more
  • desert rat: Cannot wait, the Land Sector link brought me to Baghdad read more
  • Uncle Jimbo: Major kudos for an incredible piece of work. Bravo. I read more

Real Clear Politics Revamps Content Presentation

By Joe Katzman at 06:42

RealClearPolitics isn't exactly a blog - really, it's just a set of links to stories of interest every day - but it's definitely part of the citizen infosphere. Much like Instapundit, the key ingredient is editorial selection; only it's even briefer, and almost all of the links are conventional media stories and op/eds. RCP is conservative in its leanings, though its selections include non-conservative points of view. As such, it has become something of a must-read among major media figures, politicians, and more than a few bloggers who mine it for good links.

Their new site revamp gives you thast much more reason to head on over if you're not familiar with them - and they've put together a release that explains all the new features. Some of them are pretty cool:

"Among RCP's new features is the Opinion BuzzTracker, which discerns those stories people are talking about most on the Internet. Another new feature -- named ReaderArticles -- allows RCP's readers to submit articles and vote on them. RealClearPolitics then publishes those articles deemed most important by the collective wisdom of the RCP audience. These new tools provide readers with intelligent filters to find the best stories from the thousands published daily across both sides of the political aisle."

Speaking of cool, there's Ralph Peters' piece: "Myths of Iraq."


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  • Joe Katzman: I'd add to Mark's criticism generators that run on the read more
  • Mark Buehner: The electricity issue can be classified as nothing short of read more
  • Joe Katzman: This bit is also interesting, putting holes in Peters' thesis read more

Daily Star Covers Progress for Women in Arab Gulf States

By Joe Katzman at 03:38

Lebanon's Daily Star has an article that looks at the (slow) progress women are making in Arab countries around the Persian Gulf.


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Jerry-Jeff Wasn't Doing No Research Project...

By Armed Liberal at 01:38

In the comments to my post below, commenter Davebo raised the issue of the conscious decision by the Administration not to bomb a terrorist camp strongly believed to house al-Zarqawi.

The camp was in the North of Iraq – in the area under the no-fly zone, and only loosely under Saddam’s control.

Davebo characterized the decision as an effort to use al-Zarqawi’s presence as a rationale for the war. Administration figures characterized it differently:
Another factor, though, was fear that a strike on the camp could stir up opposition while the administration was trying to build an international coalition to launch an invasion of Iraq. Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said in an interview that the reasons for not striking included "the president's decision to engage the international community on Iraq." Mr. Di Rita said the camp was of interest only because it was believed to be producing chemical weapons. He also cited several potential logistical problems in planning a strike, such as getting enough ground troops into the area, and the camp's large size.
It sounds like they were talking a ground assault, which would have been a meaningful escalation from the air strikes and cruise missile attacks we’d employed in Iraq up until then.

But let’s do something interesting here. Let me put out a call to everyone to pull together links to the best available information about this decision, and the background to it.


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  • John Quiggin: This link might be useful BBC. BTW, while the al-Ansar read more
  • Jim Burdo: Jeffrey Goldberg's New Yorker article about Ansar al Islam and read more
  • Pangloss: Michael O'Hanlon is a scholar at the Brookings Institution and read more

You Can Drive My Car

By Armed Liberal at 00:41

Hit and Run just posted a link showing Members of Congress who directly leased cars instead of going through the GSA (at a lesser expense). I’m not privy enough to the campaign-finance implications of this (i.e are there problems given the mixed usage if you have a GSA vehicle), so I’m not jumping one way or the other on the simple fact of their having leased cars. But I thought it’d be an interesting exercise on my coffee break to map the make/model to their vote on Kyoto. In the SUV column, “XX” means a full-size SUV, “X” means a SUV.

The vote is on the 2000 House advisory vote (2000-323) on the Kyoto Treaty.

Member NameVote on KyotoState/PartySUVMake/Model2005 Cost
Curt WeldonYESPennsylvania RepublicanXXFord Expedition"$8,551"
Cynthia McKinneyYESGeorgia DemocratXXFord Expedition"$4,353"
Harold FordYESTennessee DemocratXXChevrolet Tahoe"$8,050"
Mark FoleyYESFlorida RepublicanXXGMC Yukon"$4,089"
Paul KanjorskiYESPennsylvania DemocratXXGMC Yukon"$11,290"
Sheila Jackson LeeYESTexas DemocratXXLincoln Navigator"$9,081"
Silvestre ReyesYESTexas DemocratXXGMC Yukon"$6,419"
Solomon OrtizYESTexas DemocratXXChevrolet Tahoe"$8,492"
Sue KellyYESNew York Republican/ConservativeXXChevrolet Tahoe"$8,736"

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  • frontinus: AL: I’m not privy enough...so I’m not jumping one way read more
  • Paul Milenkovic: Since my poppa relies on a Ford pension and gets read more
  • Glen Wishard: You know, a much better indicator of who the hypocritical read more

March 14, 2006

I Wonder If He's Related To My Wife...

By Armed Liberal at 21:24

From AP:

Motorcyclist Clocked at 155 Mph Jailed Monday, March 13, 2006 5:37 PM EST
The Associated Press

LIVINGSTON, La. (AP) — A motorcyclist has been given a couple of days to think about the record he set — at least in the minds of state troopers.

Brian Samuel Willis, 20, was clocked zooming down Interstate 12 on Sunday at 155 miles per hour — more than two times the speed limit 70, state police said.

"That may be the fastest of all-time in the state," said Trooper Ryan Riley of Troop A. "I can't confirm it, but I don't think anyone has ever gotten anybody at 155. The fastest I know of is like 144."


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  • Engineer-Poet: The FAA does require "500 feet clearance from any person, read more
  • Joe Katzman: He wasn't riding too fast. He was flying too low. read more
  • Robert Schwartz: Did he do something wrong? read more

China's Ticking Time Bombs

By Joe Katzman at 10:02

No, this isn't about Chinese militarism, or nationalism. Instead, it underlines some points made in Winds of Change.NET's long look at China's possible futures.

The projections re: China's "inevitable" economic rise to surpass the USA by 2040 or whatever fool date miss a whole lot of things, but here are two:

  1. The rural time bomb
  2. The demographic/ pension problem - which points toward the real second time bomb

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  • Joe Katzman: Hmm, that's a good point. But India is still expected read more
  • Jonathan: Interesting comments, all. What impact do the conditions in China read more
  • Russ: Cell phones? Nuh-uh. Cell phones are as great an eavesdropping read more

Yale Admins. Hiding in Caves Over Taliban Recruit

By Joe Katzman at 07:33

Gee, all that high-level effort made to recruit the Taliban's own Abu Goebbels to Yale - you'd think they might have chosen a crisis management approach other than pure Nixonian silence.

Nope. John Fund reports. One hopes he'll keep on reporting it, because there's just no damn excuse.

And another institution in the liberal canon reveals its supposed progressive ideals and claims about rights and justice to be lies from beginning to end....


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  • Rand Simberg: "Ramatullah Hashemi escaped the wreckage of Afghanistan and was approved read more
  • Glen Wishard: Our security depends on people like Ramatullah coming to appreciate read more
  • Joe Katzman: Brien, he can get that through a book. Studying at read more

Harmony and Disharmony: Stealing al-Qaeda's Playbook

By Joe Katzman at 07:14

Defense Tech has a good, link-filled primer article explaining a couple of serious strategy pieces that recently came out of the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point.

Even Prussophile paleo-conservative and Counterpunch writer William S. Lind had good things to say about it, which is damn near unheard of for anything that comes out of the US military. Lind says the pieces show a very solid grasp of 4th Generation Warfare, however, and he's right. As he notes:

"The bulk of the paper is summaries of translations of some of al Qaida's own key documents, materials that allow other analysts to see al Qaida as it sees itself. As the study notes, 'Any external assessment of al-Qa'ida's weaknesses will have inherent limitations. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point believes an internal assessment -- from actual members of the al-Qa'ida organization -- is the best method to accurately assess their own true vulnerabilities.' "

In looking at wars, one is tempted to fixate attention on strengths. War being most often a contest of dueling mistakes, however, a focus on weaknesses is often at least as productive - and necessary in order to really understand what's going on. "Stealing al-Qaeda's Playbook" is a PDF file, but "Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting Al-Qa'ida's Organizational Vulnerabilities" is available in full in HTML if you want to tackle the whole thing. Contents include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Foreword
  • Part I
    • Introduction
    • Theoretical Framework: The Challenges of Organizing Terror
    • Syria Case Study: Back to the Future
    • Organizational Vulnerabilities and Recommendations to Exploit Them
  • Part II
    • Introduction
    • Harmony Document List (with linked summaries)

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  • M. Simon: Thanks for posting this Joe. I am wading through it read more

War Without End

By 'Callimachus' at 03:59

Every generation has its own Civil War. Now, I think, we have ours.

I haven't yet read "Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War" by Harry S. Stout. But I've been following the reviews and assessments of it since its publication this year. I'll read it after I get through my current pile.

There never was a single, stable "Civil War" in the discipline of history, at least as academic historians write it. You get closer to the memories of the soldiers in Bruce Catton, but he's not a historian. You get closer to the battlefield realities in "Red Badge of Courage," but Crane wasn't a historian, either.


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  • Jim Rockford: One thing I've noticed on the Left and in Muslim's read more
  • Daniel Markham: Thanks Glen et al. Like I said, as I get read more
  • Glen Wishard: Daniel - Those views about the KKK and black Republicans read more

Dr. Richard Jadick: Someone You Should Know

By Joe Katzman at 00:21

Faced with a shortage of doctors, the Navy needed a junior-level doctor to accompany a Marine batalion to Iraq. Lt. Commander Richard Jadick, one of the senior medical officers at Camp Lejeune, volunteered. He left a pregnant wife at home and headed straight into the Second Battle of Fallujah, where he earned a Bronze Star with a Combat V for valor. It's the only Combat V awarded a Navy doctor thus far in the Iraq war.

All he had to do to get it was step directly into the fighting and work for 11 days and nights under fire, setting up shop in the city itself and moving forward with the troops rather than waiting for the wounded at the medical stations to the rear. Dr. Jadick knew about a trauma patient's "golden hour," and he knew that in combat, that hour was shorter still. USMC Lt. Col. Mark Winn estimated that without Jadick's bravery and determination to do absolutely everything he could, the Marines would have lost an additional 30 men. This is his story: "On Call In Hell."


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  • sheryl stahman: dr. jadick was one of the residents that cared for read more
  • Soldier's Mom: I just last night finished reading "On Call In Hell" read more
  • william jones: great job sir with the book and all of your read more

Some Roadblocks On The Path to Democratic Hegemony

By Armed Liberal at 00:20
Back in 04, I wound up in an interesting inter-blog fight with the commenting community over at Little Green Footballs. I’d said:
I've met Charles, and he's a liberal who was shocked by 9/11 into reading Arab media, and shocked by what he saw there. I really do think he's provided a service in opening that up to wider discussion, and I think he's damaged the service that he does by allowing his comments to be as bile-filled as they are.
551 comments ensued, some of them thoughtful, lots of them not. I’ve held a pretty consistent view that the tone of Charles’ comments damage the message he’s trying to get out, and that the place where Charles’ commenters tend to be (we’re at war with Islam now) is the end point I’m trying hard to avoid getting to.

Kevin Drum is another blogger I’ve met and am personally fond of, and someone I have a great deal of respect for. Sadly, his comments are as bad – or I really think, worse, than Charles’.

Why worse, you ask?


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  • David Blue: Opps! My post #62 should have referred to Crown prince read more
  • David Blue: OK, here's something to back up what I said in read more
  • angua: Joe, please do. I'd love to see some informed discussion read more

March 13, 2006

The Torturers and the Times

By Joe Katzman at 22:02

Can't put it any better than WSJ OpinionJournal:

"Tom Fox, a member of the anti-American Christian Peacekeeper Teams, has been murdered by terrorists in Iraq who held him hostage for more than three months, the New York Times reported on Saturday. On Sunday, the paper carried a follow-up report that Fox "had apparently been tortured by his captors before being shot multiple times in the head and dumped on a trash heap next to a railway line in western Baghdad."

The story of Fox's death ran on page A8; the story of his torture, on page A10. So what made the Times' front page on Saturday? Yet another story about Abu Ghraib."

No pctures for Tom, either. Just as the torture chambers et. al. found in Fallujah didn't get a lot of play. Wouldn't want people to get the wrong impression that our enemies might be a prime source of evil in the world. Makes it too difficult to keep the focus where we want it, dontcha know: on the evil of the Bush Administration.

Now let's add...


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  • frontinus: I guess if I lie to a coworker about where read more
  • The Unbeliever: michael reynolds: On the particular story, was this a front read more
  • Mark Buehner: "Honestly, do you really think Kerry approves of Zarqawi? " read more

Psychosis or Terrorism at Public University?

By athena at 18:36

The on-campus incident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where an Iranian graduate attempted to kill students by running them over with a rented Jeep, has raised questions about defining terrorism. The perpetrator, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, claimed he was doing the "will of Allah" and acting to avenge the treatment of Muslims in the US.

This weekend I traveled back to my alma mater and spoke with someone who knew Taheri-Azar. More interesting details come into view including heavy drinking and drug use.

(More in-depth coverage is cross-posted at Terrorism Unveiled)


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  • Maximus: No, this is the muslim equivalent of confession and penance. read more
  • Jim Rockford: Good points Glen. Recall that terrorism is idolized and romanticized read more
  • Glen Wishard: Social misfit, not extremely poor, well-educated, and a past involving read more

Monday's Winds of War: 13 Mar 2006

By WoW Team Monday at 05:42

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Monday's Winds of War briefings are given by Security Watchtower and Peace Like a River.

Top Topics

  • Iran will no longer consider a proposal to move its uranium enrichment program to Russian territory and is instead considering large-scale uranium enrichment at home, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters Sunday. The declaration by Asefi effectively means the Russian proposal is dead after the International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran to the U.N. Security Council last week.
  • The British Sunday Times newspaper reported on Monday morning that the United States will present to the United Nations Security Council schematics for a nuclear bomb which it claims to have taken off a computer stolen from an Iranian nuclear scientist two years ago. The schematic will reportedly be a central piece of evidence the United States will provide in the upcoming debate in the UNSC over possible sanctions against Iran for failing to comply with international monitors of its nuclear program.

Other topics today include: Iran's oil reserves; EU on Iran; Hamas in Saudi Arabia; Egypt extradites terror suspect; US Sanctions Syrian bank; Iranian support of Islamic Jihad; IDF arrests bombers; Olmert & the West Bank; Underground commander center in Tehran; Jordan hangs terrorists; PA declaration of war; Jordanian terrorists sentenced; More on DPW deal; Lodi trial update; Legislation to crack down on terror funding; Nationwide gang arrests; Wahhabism in Russia; Police chief killed in Russia; Chechen militants and amnesty; Shooting in Georgia; Taliban growing along border; More fighting in Waziristan; Canadian troops battling in Afghanistan; Beheadings in Helmand province; Investigations in India into bombings continue; Bombing in Thailand & Indonesia; terrorists in the Philippines; North Korean missile test; Madrid local attack; Terrorists sentenced in Netherlands; Milosovic dies; Counterterrorism in east Africa; and more.


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  • Robert McDougall: Yeah, the last thing I'd want is Hamas to stop read more
  • Colt: #17 Robert McDougall In the meantime, Israel, the United States, read more
  • Robert McDougall: Colt: If Hamas forms a government, and if it does read more

Iraq Report, 13 Mar/06

By Andrew Olmsted at 04:35

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • The U.S. ambassador to Iraq met with Iraqi leaders on Sunday in an attempt to break the stalemate over the formation of the new Iraqi government, a stalemate entering its fourth month. The new government's first meeting of parliament is scheduled for 16 March.
  • Attempts to spur civil war continue in Iraq, as bombs killed 40 and wounded 140 more in a market in Sadr City. Mortars and roadside blasts killed at least another 40 people, making Sunday one of the bloodiest days in Iraq's recent history.

Other Topics Today Include: UN stays out due to violence; terrorist murderer captured; Roggio Iraq update; Iraq economy growth; oil exports up; Korea forgives Iraqi debt; South Africa to open Iraqi embassy; reporter unhappy with media coverage in Iraq.


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  • mark golding: Assalamu Alaikum Greetings Friends, Please be aware a new charity read more
  • Trevor: Thanks for the important round ups you've been doing. read more

Wafa Sultan: Someone You Should Know

By Joe Katzman at 01:53
Wafa Sultan
Wafa Sultan

Well, this ought to make a few of us reconsider our opinions of al-Jazeera. The NYT headline? "For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats":

"In the [al-Jazeera] interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries."

Actually her criticism is as an avowed secular humanist. But the smackdowns she delivers to the Islamist host Al-Khouli are utterly priceless, and should be required viewing for every invertebrate politician in the wake of the Cartoon Jihad. Especially the part after Al-Khouli called her a heretic. Eugene Volokh has a link to the video, with subtitles (it's in Arabic). iFilm has it too.

Meanwhile, MEMRI has an accompanying transcript with excerpts from the interview with Wafa Sultan that aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 21, 2006. It is followed by excerpts from a debate in which she participated, in a talk show that aired on Al-Jazeera TV on July 26, 2005.

Two curveballs...


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  • SHARRY555: [Drive-by. Content deleted. Thread closed. Move along, nothing to see read more
  • eva lande: Hi Wafa, I watched your latest battle with Al-Jazeera. You read more
  • Diaa Texas: Dr. Sultan: I visited the middle east to many times read more

March 12, 2006

The Story They Don't Want You To See

By 'Callimachus' at 19:20

Apologies for the tabloid-y headline, but there's no more accurate way to accurately introduce this. Read all about it here.


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  • chthus: Andy, The article in question was written by Alasdair Palmer, read more
  • Andy: A little more digging on this story reveals this Wikipedia read more

Aesthetic Deletions Update: Slobodan Milosevic

By Joe Katzman at 02:59

He's dead, Jim. Unfortunately his evil wife Mirjana Markovic, whose megalomaniac tendencies and influence may have done at least as much to precipitate post-Yugoslavia ethnic cleansing as Milosevic himself, is still alive in Russia.

Any Committee volunteers to fix this before Yale or Columbia add one more Marxist sociology professor by giving her tenure? She'd look good beside the Taliban spokesman Yale actively recruited - or fit in well with Columbia's Middle Eastern Studies faculty, who are big on genocide against approved targets.

(Suggested new solgan for the True Left, with a hat tip to Andrew J. Lazarus: "Marxist sociology professors are to Marxism what chewing gum is to nutrition.").


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March 11, 2006

Support Denmark Rally in Toronto This Saturday (Updated)

By Joe Katzman at 22:31

Pretty good rally. Probably about 70-100, not bad given the low level publicity announcing it. Over at The Sprit of Man, "Winston" has some pictures. And here's a few more, including one of me with my "Canadian flag in distres" (our media cut and run when it came to showing the cartoons, bowing before Shari'a theocracy, alas).

Met some folks there... quite a few were actually leftist devotees of Harry's Place. And good people, to boot. We'll disagree on some things very strongly, but at their core they are promoters of Western values and real human progress. This is, sadly, a small sliver of the global left these days - though we are proud to count several as our friends. But history rolls on, and even a small remnant may yet prove a saving one.

Support Denmark

Spirit of Man notes that a rally will be held on Saturday in Toronto, Canada.

DATE: Saturday, March 11th
TIME: 12:00-1:30PM
WHERE: 151 Bloor St. W near Avenue Rd., in front of the Danish Consulate

WHY: To show our solidarity with the nation and government of Denmark in their quest against the forces of radicalism, darkness and terror.


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  • frontinus: Wow, that was strange. Hopefully you can decipher that. If read more

Maybe Iraq Is A Lot Like Vietnam - Maybe We're Wrong About Vietnam

By Armed Liberal at 21:27

The funniest thing happened to me; I went out to breakfast Friday to pitch some new business, and wound up having breakfast with a guy who used to work for John Paul Vann.

Vann is one of the legendary counterinsurgency guys - along with Lansdale. My breakfast companion had served under him as one of the Civic Action team members - where small groups of four or five Americans would bunk in a village, and lead locals in improving the illage and defending it. He told a story of a resupply helicopter showing up; Vann got off with "a toothbrush and a carbine" and spent the night.

It was an amusing anecdote, and then Joe posted his piece on counterinsurgency via black ops; it got me thinking, and I started to Google Vann a bit to see what he'd said on the subject.

I came across a fascinating article. There's apparently an organization of former advisors called 'Counterparts'; they publish a journal called 'Sitrep' The following is from an article from that journal, posted here on the web:
COUNTERINSURGENCY: The John Paul Vann Model

By Rich Webster

In November of 1968 I can remember the legendary John Paul Vann speaking to our graduation class of newly trained advisors at Di An, South Vietnam. You cant win a guerrilla war by dropping bombs from the air, he said. You may kill some of the enemy, but you will alienate the people you are there trying to help, and they will turn against you.

John Paul Vann was our Lawrence of Arabia in Vietnam. He spent 10 years there, first as an American infantry officer, then later as the main architect of the Vietnamization/Pacification program.


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  • rich webster: I wrote the above article-for more articles about Vann and read more
  • Bill Faith: William Page, the gentleman I referred to in my earlier read more
  • David Billington: Jim Rockford, The Foreign Affairs article is by Stephen Biddle read more

Victor Hansen on Surrender

By Armed Liberal at 18:45
Go over and read Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq at NRO. he details the growing consensus among the punditry that the war is lost, and then goes on:
There are many reasons why such pessimism, and indeed depression, is unwarranted — although I concede that very few Americans and still fewer pundits would agree with my own explanations.

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  • SPQR: Harmon, Your rants have gained nothing in either relevance or read more
  • Mark Buehner: "Overall, the US military procurement system creaks along but still read more
  • Mark Buehner: "At least in Vietnam our allies and opponents had distinct read more

Covert Ops & Assassinations: Why It's the Future, and What It Takes (v 0.8b)

By Joe Katzman at 15:53

(The following post was originally supposed to be a first draft, for revision and publication by Tuesday or so. Unfortunately, it was set on something besides "Draft" when I saved it and went to the local support Denmark rally. By the time I got back, too many comments to take it offline. Sooo... now it's a "work in progress." Comments and serious thoughts welcome, and they can still shape the essay's final form.)

In "Democrats, Netroots, And Fantasy Policies," Marc said:

"Let me repeat; we're talking about taking unilateral (or semi-unilateral, with a "Band of brothers" type alliance) military action that results in killing or capturing people on foreign soil, using the people and resources of our military. And we're not going to do this as the exception, but as the root policy? Are they kidding?"

He backed up his argument that this is a Bad Idea in "Hit Squads and Pacifists," so definitely go read that. He's correct in noting that this is NOT a risk-free policy, on a number of levels. Having said that, I disagree with Marc that we cannot or should not do exactly this.

I'll explain why in a moment - but first I'll note the problem I have with Democratic Party proposals (not infrequently from its Dean wing) to adopt this "hit squad" approach. It's different from Marc's.

My problem is that they're lying through their teeth.

It's hard to tell if the core problem is that they're dishonest with themselves, or if they're just lying blatantly to us. But in the end, they're dishonest either way. That's because actually executing the policy they recommend so blithely demands a number of things the Democratic Party will never in a million years support.

Still, I think they're on to something. So let's discuss...


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  • Anthony: With respect to concerns about assassinating hostile imams, consider our read more
  • mary: I'm still wary of it, because Operation Phoenix-type programs are read more
  • Demosophist: Joe: I posted a very very skeletal comment to Marc's read more

A Tale of Two Towns

By Yehudit at 08:30
wsatire10.jpg
Fallas festival, Valencia
First, the timidity of Valencia, Spain:
In the Fallas festival, giant sculptures of the high and mighty are placed in the streets for the public to mock before being destroyed in an orgy of gunpowder and flames. It has survived attacks by the Roman Catholic church, various puritanical rulers and the Franco dictatorship.

. . . .Valencians watched global protests against newspaper cartoons of Mohammed with growing alarm. Last month, the mayor, Rita Barberá, urged artists to "temper freedom with a sense of responsibility" when referring to religious subjects. At least one well known local Fallas artist admitted to removing elements from his display of comic sculptures. . . . that identified them as Arabs.

Félix Crespo, the senior official in charge of the Central Fallas Council that runs the festival, urged the neighbourhood committees that raise funds to build the sculptures to avoid mixing humour with religion, "because that can be misunderstood".

Everyone assumed these warnings referred to Islam because sculptures of Roman Catholic priests, nuns, even of God, are a central part of the Fallas.[emphasis mine]
Contrast with the confidence of Saint-Genis-Pouilly, France:
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  • J Aguilar: Please note that Fallas has nothing to do with a read more
  • Joe Katzman: The French have indeed behaved far better than the Anglo-Saxon read more
  • Jim Rockford: Pym Fortune's party and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's parties are in read more

Dubai Ports Deal Aftermath: TMV Roundup

By Joe Katzman at 07:23

Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice rounds up the aftermath of the ports deal failure, with links to MSM and bloggers aplenty.

Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty's TKS blog is swiftly becoming the most interesting part of National Review Online. Read this post covering the Washington Post's poll re: US attitudes toward Islam. It's a nice bookend to this TKS post on post-tipping point politics, and Winds has carried a series of items poking into this theme of late. See Armed Liberal's "Ports, Autarky, Gated Communities, and BBQ," and the Guest Blog response "Exit Zero on The Real War." Plus my own "Trans-shipments, Toons & Tipping Points" and a follow-up collection of coal-mine canaries in "Our Darkening Sky: Postcards From the Edge"


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March 10, 2006

AT&T - Ripping Off The Troops?

By Armed Liberal at 23:41
Now that AT&T is taking over the world again, maybe we can get them to stop ripping off the soldiers in Iraq. From the (cleverly named!) Fractals of Change blog (h/t Jeff Jarvis):
It’s bad enough that they overcharge domestic customers but we have alternatives. The soldiers don’t because, according to The Prepaid Press, AT&T has an EXCLUSIVE contract to put payphones in PBXes in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, you ask, can’t the soldiers get cheap calling cards to call the US? No! Because AT&T is using (abusing!) its position as monopoly supplier of payphones to block the 800 numbers necessary to use nonAT&T calling cards.

This blocking is illegal in the US but, AT&T told our friend Gene Retske, editor of The Prepaid Press, the rules are different in Iraq. Right.

The soldiers could probably call cheaper if they used Iraqi pay phones. But, assuming there are any working payphones on the streets of Iraq, it’s still not a good idea for American soldiers to be standing on the corners talking on them. That’s why there are phones in PBXes. Too bad the soldiers have to pay $.21/minute to call home on them.

The wholesale rate for calls to the US is less than one cent a minute. Skype charges about 1.5 cents RETAIL to call the US from anywhere in the world. You can buy prepaid cards almost anywhere in the world to call the US for less than two cents a minute. AT&T charges soldiers in Iraq twenty-one cents.

You can fill out a form to contact AT&T here. Give them your area code - or mine, 310, and under "Topic" select 'Products and Services' and ask them if this is true, and if so let them know what you think of this.
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Osama's Niece to Star in Reality TV Show

By Joe Katzman at 20:03

Yep, you read that right. Wafah Dufour (she changed her name) is going to be on reality TV to promote her entertainment career. Actually, it's not the travesty it sounds like. And I'm beginning to see where Osama gets his thing about women needing burquas to protect them from ah... overattentive males. More pictures here.

Dude, couldn't you have just bought a big shotgun like everbody else?

UPDATE: Alchemist is brilliant. "I really think we're on the right track here, we need more hot villains, like in the bond movies."

And right THERE is the golden key to unlock Ms. Dufour's entertainment career! Who could possibly be a better evil henchman Bond girl than Osama freakin' Bin Laden's hot niece?

No-one. Ever. Sign her. Now!


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  • Joe Katzman: And right THERE is the golden key to unlock Ms. read more

March 9, 2006

Democrats, Netroots, And Fantasy Policies

By Armed Liberal at 20:10
In my post below criticizing the “netroots” (see also Jason Zengerle at The Plank here and here, as well as Kevin Drum’s response) I made the point that one thing that the Democratic Party ought to do to win was
1) Figure out a strategy for dealing with Islamism that doesn't involve a) super-ninja warriors who will, undetected, identify and mysteriously kill bad guys without disturbing anyone else or b) NUKE THE BIYATCHES;
Whereupon commenters Chris and Davebo went ballistic. Davebo:
Let's review the "solutions".
Figure out a strategy for dealing with Islamism that doesn't involve a) super-ninja warriors who will, undetected, identify and mysteriously kill bad guys without disturbing anyone else or b) NUKE THE BIYATCHES;
Yep, I believe it was Hillary who suggested method A and Howard Dean who went with the NUKE THE BIYATCES (YeeHa!) Oh wait, never mind. Those are the two proposals that the Armed Agnostic believes have been suggested.
Well, at least he's got his finger on the pulse of the DNC right?
Today, the core principles of the (mainstream) D foreign policy are: build better defenses; back out of Iraq as quickly as we can with any grace; possibly say mean things to the Saudis while buying their oil and taking their political and foundation cash (note that the GOP is even better at doing that).
Nope, scratch that.
Um, as politely as possible, bullshit.
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  • Mark Poling: Me: "Wiz, I think AL's point is to try to read more

Zarqawi Was Here

By Michael Totten at 19:56

My Peshmerga.jpg

BIARA, IRAQ – The PUK’s Minister of the Interior ordered 20 heavily armed Peshmerga soldiers to go with me to the borderland mountain village of Biara. For years the village was occupied by Ansar Al Islam, the Kurdish-Arab-Persian branch of Al Qaeda in Northern Iraq. Biara wasn’t the only village seized by the Taliban of Mesopotamia, but it was perhaps the most important. It is there that the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had his last stand in Iraqi Kurdistan before the 2003 US-led invasion forced him out.

My Peshmerga weren’t really necessary. I told my translator Alan that I was embarrassed so many military resources were being spent on my account. I probably didn’t need any.

“It’s too much,” Alan said and laughed. He, too, was clearly embarrassed. “It’s too much. The minister is doing this to be nice. He wants you to know that he cares about you.”

I introduced myself to some of my Peshmerga guards. There were so many it wasn’t easy to speak to them all. I had a hard time looking them in the eye. Jesus, I thought. These guys must think I’m the biggest wimp in the world. Biara isn’t actually dangerous. Zarqawi hasn’t been there for years. But it wasn’t my idea to bring them along. When the minister said “I will send guards with you” I thought he meant maybe two guys. I cringed when I saw how many picked me up at my hotel in the morning.

read the rest over at michaeltotten.com »


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Hitchens' Iran Idea

By 'Cicero' at 19:38

Just passing this along as grist for the mill. I am guilty of having no constructive ideas for defusing the Iranian nuclear crisis. Hitchens' plan is flawed and risky -- which makes it like every other option that's out there.

Survey Says

So, picture if you will the landing of Air Force One at Imam Khomeini International Airport. The president emerges, reclaims the U.S. Embassy in return for an equivalent in Washington and the un-freezing of Iran's financial assets, and announces that sanctions have been a waste of time and have mainly hurt Iranian civilians. (He need not add that they have also given some clerics monopoly positions in various black markets; the populace already knows this.) A new era is possible, he goes on to say. America and the Shiite world have a common enemy in al-Qaida, just as they had in Slobodan Milosevic, the Taliban, and the Iraqi Baathists. America is home to a large and talented Iranian community. Let the exchange of trade and people and ideas begin! There might perhaps even be a ticklish-to-write paragraph, saying that America is not proud of everything it is has done in the past -- most notably Jimmy Carter's criminal decision to permit Saddam to invade Iran.

The aging mullahs might claim this as a capitulation, which would be hard to bear. But how right would they be? The pressure for a new constitution and genuine elections is already building. Within less than a decade, we might be negotiating with a whole new generation of Iranians. Iran would have less incentive to disrupt progress in Iraq (and we should not forget that it has been generally not unhelpful in Afghanistan). Eventually, Iran might have a domestic nuclear program (to which it is fully entitled and which would decrease its oil-dependency) and be ready to sign a nonproliferation agreement with enforceable and verifiable provisions. American technical help would be available for this, since it was we who (in a wonderful moment of Kissingerian "realism") helped them build the Bushehr reactor in the first place.

Just a thought.


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Baseball: Canada 8, US All-Stars 6

By Joe Katzman at 17:02

"They have the most talent, I won't lie. But that's why we play the games. One game, you don't know what's going to happen. Over 162, I don't know if we'd fare so hot. But one game, you've just got to go out there and bust it, and that's what we did."
-- Canadian CF Adam Stern (Red Sox)

And they did, as Canada stunned the USA with a major upset win in the World Baseball Classic - in large part, thanks to Stern's hot bat and great glove work. No American thanks to Team USA's 2B Chase Utley, who provided a vivid demonstration why it's a bad idea to showboat a home run until you're sure it has, you know, actually left the yard. Following this loss, Team USA may even have difficulty advancing to the next round.

Good job, eh!


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Kaplan on "The Coming Normalcy"

By Armed Liberal at 06:26

If you're a subscriber to The Atlantic (and you ought to be) go check out Robert Kaplan's latest "The Coming Normalcy" - an account of his recent trip to Iraq [PDF version free at Michael Yon's].

I've updated and extended this post, and here are three quotes to get you started:
But by the time 1-25 left Mosul, a year later, mortar attacks alone had fallen from 300 a month to fewer than ten. Other forms of insurgent activity dropped to the point where international journalists no longer considered Mosul an important part of the ongoing Iraq story—a fact evidenced by their thin presence in the city. Meanwhile, the local police force was now back up to 9,000, and the number of police stations had expanded from five to twenty-four. More important, the number of intelligence tips called in by the local population had risen from essentially zero to some 400 per month.

The kind of chaos that 1-25 had alleviated in Mosul has been an abiding interest of mine. Twelve years ago in this magazine, I published an article, "The Coming Anarchy,” about the institutional collapse of Third World countries owing to ethnic and sectarian rivalries, demographic and environmental stresses, and the growing interrelationship between war and crime. Was it possible that Iraq, of all places, might offer some new ideas about how situations of widespread anarchy can be combated? It certainly was the case that, despite a continuing plague of suicide bombings, significant sections of the country were slowly recovering from large-scale violence, as well as from the effects of decades of brutal dictatorship. The very U.S. military that had helped to bring about the anarchy in Iraq was now worth studying as a way to end it, both here and elsewhere in the Third World.

You'll note that - in opposition to the bleak view of his earlier piece (which was itself largely informed by the battle of Mogadishu) - Kaplan sees a path to success.
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Opening the Schoolhouse Doors

By Joe Katzman at 03:20

In "Segregation & Privilege in Our Time," I quoted this:

"Our system of public education, for instance, is praised as a great equalizer and source of social unity when it is in fact a cornerstone in the American version of socio-economic apartheid."

Fortunately, something's up in Minnesota. The Wall St. Journal reports on "Black Flight":

"Last year, only 28% of black eighth-graders in the Minneapolis public schools passed the state's basic skills math test; 47% passed the reading test. The black graduation rate hovers around 50%, and the district's racial achievement gap remains distressingly wide. Louis King, a black leader who served on the Minneapolis School Board from 1996 to 2000, puts it bluntly: "Today, I can't recommend in good conscience that an African-American family send their children to the Minneapolis public schools. The facts are irrefutable: These schools are not preparing our children to compete in the world." Mr. King's advice? "The best way to get attention is not to protest, but to shop somewhere else."

They can do so because of the state's longstanding commitment to school choice.... Minneapolis charter school enrollment is 91% minority and 84% low-income, while district enrollment is 72% minority and 67% low-income."

The classic excuse in the school system has been that poor (read: black) parents don't care as much about their childrens' education as middle-class parents do. Minneapolis' experience suggests that this is false. They just have fewer options - which is why the profitable exploitation and quiet racism that underpins both the current closed public school system and its teachers' unions needs to be stopped.


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  • alchemist: And I agree with that. read more
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Netroots Love

By Armed Liberal at 02:52

One issue I've blogged about pretty extensively is my concern about the 'suicidal lemming' wing of the Democratic Party and what it's going to do for the forces of true progressivism in this country.

It's the wing that positive, just positive, that masses of voters will come out and support them if only they are firm enough in their positions - positions near and dear to the hearts of coastal elites, but pretty distance from those living paycheck to paycheck in exurbia and flyover country.

Molly Ivens cuts loose:
As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:

1) Iraq is making terrorism worse; it’s a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.

2) Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.

3) Single-payer health insurance.


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  • Tom Holsinger: A.L., IMO you have no chance on national security issues, read more

Int'l Woman's Day In Iran

By Armed Liberal at 00:43
Here are the people I'd really, really like to avoid bombing:

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  • Mark Buehner: "One way the Iranian population could display its famous pro-West read more
  • Gabriel Chapman: Quick, put Iran in control of the Women's Rights forum read more
  • Russ: I don't necessarily see a conflict between hoping that AL read more

March 8, 2006

Schrodinger's Catalyst: A Muslim's Journey

By Joe Katzman at 02:42

I've recently come across a pseudonymous blogger that some of you may know - a student here in Canada who was born in Pakistan and spent most of his life in Saudi Arabia. His byline: "even though i've been raised as a mussulman, i'm not one of them." Not any more, anyway. Under Shari'a law, of course, he should be sentenced to death for turning his back on the faith. This is his journey...

  1. In Darkness. Growing up in Pakistan & Saudi Arabia.

  2. The Land of Trinity. "A life changing event was to occur. Up till now, I had lived in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. My mind had been imprisoned by fear and ignorance for all this time. The Land of Trinity would completely shatter the cage." And some parts are pretty damn funny, too.

  3. IX.XI At university in Canada.... "The program was about the merciless lampooning of Osama in every late night show. One of the guys was very agitated. "I understand why he makes fun of Osama all the time. It’s because he’s a rotten stinking Jew. But I don’t get why Leno jokes about Osama so much?”...I found out later still that the guy was a member of the Muslim Student Association."

  4. In Delerium. "There was no respite from the conspiracy theories in Saudi Arabia..." But there was the finalization of a choice.

I'm publishing the links to his story, and later to his other work, for two reasons...


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  • TRISH: WELL THIS IS PRETTY UNBELIEVABLE Insurgents' Web Posting: Zarqawi's Death read more
  • vicki: this is pretty unreal Rove Blames Bush's Job Approval Ratings read more
  • mallia: Can you beleiev this Moussaoui Evades Death, Receives Life in read more

March 7, 2006

The Barbarians

By Colt at 19:20

I’d hesitate to divide between the lawlessness committed by unobservant Muslims and the terrorism perpetrated by their devout brothers and sisters. Native terrorist cells, the 7/7 four being a prime example, mostly seem to hail from the pious section of Europe’s Muslims, disgusted as much by the un-Islamic lifestyle of their fellow Muslims as by the West’s immorality at home and tyranny abroad.

But this may not last. Al-Qaeda has allied itself with groups and ideologues with a lot less in common with them than the angry Muslims of Europe’s cities. And those denied the lives ‘society’ supposedly owes them often develop a nihilism not unlike that of the savages who make up the jihadi ranks.

I wrote that on November 3rd, 2005, during the rioting in France and other parts of Western Europe. The 'Barbarians' gang that kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered a young French Jew named Ilan Halimi provide a disturbing case study.


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