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January 2008 Archives

January 31, 2008

The Blind Left

By Armed Liberal at 19:14

In light of hypo's claim that 'it's all about the oil' in Iraq, let me offer a quote from Postel's book 'Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran' (the book Chris doesn't need to read).

The picture gets further complicated, and the Left gets further flummoxed, over the role of Empire in the Iranian context. The memory of the 1953 coup burns furiously in the minds of many Iranians to this day. Because anti-imperialism is our primary conceptual organizing principle, leftists are of course highly attuned to such sentiments. Particularly in this era of Empire fever and regime-change mania, we reflexively and viscerally oppose US interference in other countries - and understandably so. Anti-imperialist pronouncements coming out of Iran thus have a certain resonance for many leftists. The supreme cleric Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has characterized the students as "American mercenaries." As the Middle East scholar Juan Cole points out, that kind of accusation "has resonance in a country where US conspiracies to change the government - like the 1953 CIA coup - have actually succeeded." (It should be recalled, however, that the Islamists deploy the 1953 coup in bad faith: not only did they oppose Iranian president Mohammad Mossadegh for his secularism and liberalism; they even had their own plans to take him out. And after taking power in 1979, they obliterated the Mossadeghi National Front Party. This little footnote has largely been forgotten but is hugely relevant to the present situation.)

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  • Armed Liberal: Nort - just did some fast math on the data read more
  • alchemist: Mark Buehner: I hear what you're saying. I don't think read more
  • Nortius Maximus: HR: I retain the intellectual honesty, personally, to say that read more

Mo' Ronery

By Armed Liberal at 15:02

AJ Strata has a very good post up on the issues I'm debating w/commenter Chris below.

What does this all mean? Well the American people are leading the surge away from the hyper-partisans and the muck-raking, purity wars. Not only were the parties raging against each other - they had turned on the moderate middle and attacked with visceral hate towards anyone who could ’sell out’ and reach compromise. And of course the support for both sides of the aisle tanked as each end of the spectrum tried to see who could denigrate the midstream voters the most.

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  • ThomasJackson: I never thought I'd long for the competency and expertise read more
  • Foobarista: My problem with politicians calling for "bipartisanship" or "moving past read more
  • Celebrim: Thorley Winston: You have a good point. Alas, like so read more

TEOLAWKI, continued

By Donald Sensing at 03:46

TEOLAWKI - The End of Life as We Know It - continues to threaten.

First there was the supernova and galactic-attack scenarios.

Then the predicted return of the comet Genondahwayanung, which pretty much annihilated most life in North America when it came here the first time.

And then the massive gas cloud speeding toward a collision with the Milky Way!

And now, yet another insult: The earth's atmosphere may detonate.

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  • Wolf Pangloss: Glen, that is a motto worth repeating! "We're not one read more
  • Glen Wishard: Feh. We thought the Trinity atomic bomb might ignite the read more
  • andrewdb: Check out the book Out of Thin Air by Peter read more

I'm Not So Ronery

By Armed Liberal at 00:38

In the comment thread below, commenter Chris & I play ping-pong with the question of whether my views hold any relevance to the Democratic Party. My initial response to him was:

Chris, I don't know that I feel so lonely - I've got a leading D candidate (Obama) who is at least philosophically in touch with my beliefs about the nature of domestic politics, and whose domestic policies I find largely appealing; I've got a leading R candidate (McCain) whose foreign policies are largely appealing to me and whose domestic policies don't make me sick. Compared to the Netroots crowd's wishes, I'd say US politics is orbiting pretty close to where I want it to be.

Now Ed Kilgore weighs in over at TNR (is Foer still the editor there or what?):

- His message was a remarkably faithful and wholesale adoption of the Crashing the Gates-style netroots analysis of the parties, of Washington, of the Clintonian Democratic tradition, and of galvanizing value of "fighting populist" rhetoric. It was crafted with the help of the maestro of this approach, Joe Trippi. Yet it did not rouse much in the way of support from its intended audiences. In the end, most of the Deanian excitement in the campaign flowed to Obama, who consistently deployed a rhetoric of post-partisanship that is anathema to the point of view advanced by Edwards, as Edwards himself suggested on many occasions. It's telling that Edwards lost his critical contest, Iowa, where he had every advantage at the beginning, after hoping for a low turnout dominated by older voters and previous caucus participants. I was saying...

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  • Chris: All that said to AL, as much as I like read more
  • Chris: Chris, I think Markos has some advice for you (this read more
  • Chris: bq, And Chris what I've been repeatedly saying is that read more

January 30, 2008

Apaches Overhead

By Armed Liberal at 17:51

I forgot - Bush is speaking about two miles from my house today...I'll try and get pictures of Marine One when it goes overhead...


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  • Armed Liberal: There were four Apaches as well...narrow fuselages w/weapons pods on read more
  • Donald Sensing: Not Apaches, Marc, which is an Army attack helicopter with read more
  • Mark Buehner: Will they let you blog from Guantanamo? ;) read more

Flashman and Iraq

By Armed Liberal at 06:12

Eric Red has a post up on the Saddam admissions - the ones where he explained that he was 'bluffing' about WMD for regional reasons. In it, one of his commenters pokes at my suggestion that the bluff made Saddam culpable for the invasion.

Other folks, (Democracy Arsenal) also make the point that much of the sturm und drang that we are so geopolitically sensitive to is in fact inter-regional - i.e. the sabers being rattled are not necessarily aimed at us.

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  • Joe Katzman: I suppose it would be too much to ask Mark read more
  • SG: I'm fairly doubtful, now that the monkey has grabbed the read more
  • hypocrisyrules: Chris, You are doing good spadework here, but - the read more

Ignore This Post

By Armed Liberal at 01:21

Experimenting with OpenID, using my Technorati Profile

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Some Encouraging News About Blogs

By Armed Liberal at 00:06

Over at Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell has an interesting post up on partisanship in the blog world. He cites a study (behind a paywall) examining the linking behavior of blogs.

Eszter and her colleagues work from a sample of 40 well-known political blogs, and examine how these blogs did or didn't link to each other over three week-long periods. Like previous studies, they find that the majority of links are between blogs sharing the same ideological position. However, over the three weeks examined, only five of the conservative blogs never link to a liberal blog, and only three of the liberal blogs never link to a conservative one. In general, they find that there is evidence that blogs are somewhat insular (they are far more inclined to link to other blogs like them than to blogs with different ideological positions), but far from being insulated (there still is a fair amount of left-right conversation going on). In general they find "no support for the claim that IT will lead to increasingly fragmented discourse online."

More interesting still, Eszter and co. do some basic content analysis on the substance of links between left and right wing blogs.

I'm dying to read this study; go over and read the whole post at CT (and ignore the trollbait in the comments); we actually have some interesting empirical data to work with - let's explore where it takes us.

I've been noodling over a similar project for several months, based on Memeorandum.

Looking at the link clouds that develop around stories there, it appears superficially that left and right blogs don't link - at all - to the same stories. If true, that's depressing. One of these days I'll get the time to do some analysis and see if it's true or not - unless one of you readers beats me to it.

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  • gabriel: SO blogs are mimicking Academia. read more

January 28, 2008

The Final Mission, Part I

By Michael Totten at 10:48


FALLUJAH – At the end of 2006 there were 3,000 Marines in Fallujah. Despite what you might expect during a surge of troops to Iraq, that number has been reduced by 90 percent. All Iraqi Army soldiers have likewise redeployed from the city. A skeleton crew of a mere 250 Marines is all that remains as the United States wraps up its final mission in what was once Iraq's most violent city.

“The Iraqi Police could almost take over now,” Second Lieutenant Gary Laughlin told me. “Most logistics problems are slowly being resolved. My platoon will probably be the last one out here in the Jolan neighborhood.”

“The Iraqi Police in Jolan are very good,” Second Lieutenant Mike Barefoot added. “Elsewhere in Fallujah they're not as far along yet. Theoretically we could leave the area now and they would be okay, except they would run out of money.”

There's more to the final mission than keeping the Iraqi Police solvent, however. The effort is focused on the Police Transition Teams. Their job is to train the Iraqi Police and bring them up to international standards so the locals can hold the city together after the last Americans leave.

A senior Marine officer whose name I didn't catch grilled some of his men during a talk in the Camp Fallujah chow hall after dinner.

“Do you trust the Iraqi Police?” he said to a Marine who works on one of the teams.

“No, sir,” the Marine said without hesitation. That was the only acceptable answer. This was a test, not an inquiry.

“Why not?” the officer said.

“Because they're not honest,” the Marine said.

“What do the Iraqi Police watch?” the officer said. “What are they looking at on a daily basis?”

“Us,” said several Marines in unison.

“They will emulate you, gents,” the officer said. “They. Will. Emulate you. Why? Because we came over here twice and kicked their ass."

Read the rest at

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  • John Ryan: [Deleted. Driveby. NM] read more

Hopes for NY Times Reporting Questioned After MRAP Story

By Joe Katzman at 05:13
LAND Cougar 6x6 IEDed EU Referendum
Cougar 6×6, IEDed
- the crew lived.
(click to view full)

The photo at the top of this article never fails to grab our readers' attention at Defense Industry Daily. As it should. Taken on the front lines in Iraq, it depicts a v-hulled Force Protection Cougar (MRAP Class II) vehicle, shortly after a deeply buried land mine believed to contain over 200 pounds of explosives blew up under the vehicle. That's a shocking big boom, and even MRAP vehicles do not guarantee protection against a blast that size. Indeed, US MRAP tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground are considered vicious because they use 30-50 pound charges - a test set that has failed at least 3 MRAP contenders. Amazingly, the Cougar in this picture did what it was designed to do, minimizing the impact of the blast by deflecting it to the smooth v-hull's sides, rather than catching the full impact on a Hummer's flat bottom and multiple "blast trap" niches. The engine was thrown over 100 feet from the vehicle - but the crew lived. The challenge then became removing the vehicle wreck, instead of finding enough crew remains to provide a burial.

This picture provides a certain level of perspective, as one contemplates the recent NY Times article "Hopes for Vehicle Questioned After Iraq Blast". While Australia's DoD has a standing "On the Record" section of the site that takes issue with media reports they believe to be misleading or flat out wrong, the US Department of Defense hasn't quite caught up yet. It did issue a direct response in this case, however, and the contents are interesting.

Read the rest at Defense Industry Daily...

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  • Bob1: The Air Force catches the same unrealistic criticism even when read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Also, humans in general fall prey to magical thinking in read more
  • FabioC.: Very few journalists are familiar with engineering principles. They think read more

Public Editor talks about Killer Vets

By Armed Liberal at 03:49

The NY Times public editor responds to the criticism of the 'Killer Vets' series:

The Times was pointing out terrible examples of something the military itself acknowledges: large numbers of veterans are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with psychological problems. And, as the initial article said, a Pentagon task force found last year that the military mental health system was poorly prepared to deal with this wave of distress.

The Times was immediately accused - in The New York Post and the conservative blogosphere, and by hundreds of messages to the public editor - of portraying all veterans as unstable killers. It did not.

But, the first article used colorfully inflated language - "trail of death" - for a trend it could not reliably quantify, despite an attempt at statistical analysis using squishy numbers. The article did not make clear what its focus was. Was it about killer vets, or about human tragedies involving a system that sometimes fails to spot and treat troubled souls returning from combat?

Finally, while many of the 121 cases found by The Times appeared clearly linked to wartime stresses, others seemed questionable.

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  • corvan: Actually the Iowahawk piece was the better researched of the read more
  • beloml: From Iowahawk: Bylines of Brutality As Casualties Mount, Some Question read more
  • jordan: I dare say the NYT would be far less interested read more

January 27, 2008

No, Politics Ain't Beanbag

By Armed Liberal at 03:11

Sitting in an East Coast hotel watching TV (I actually may have to get TV at home for this election...) I'm thinking a bit about the election (note: I haven't given up on my point that long-war hawks may want to consider voting Democratic - I'll go back to this soon).

And I wanted to highlight the point Jonathan Chait made in the LA Times today - 'Is the right right on the Clintons?'. As I note in the title, politics ain't beanbag, and to me the fact that the Clintons can play as rough as anyone isn't - necessarily - a bad thing. I don't know about you, but I don't want a shrinking violet as President.

But - I'm more concerned about our toxic domestic politics, and I need to see some kind of uplifting vision balancing the ruthlessness. And I'm watching Hillary talk, and what I don't see - is enough vision to counter the sharp elbows.

Oh my God - CN just cut away from Hillary's speech...I wonder what that means? Interesting inside baseball...they didn't cut away from Obama's... I guess he is the media's darling.

But you know what - I was kind of done with her generic stump speech anyway. Maybe they are just good at judging audience reaction.

So here's the problem. I want to support a Democrat, if I possibly can. But you know, I don't think I can support Hillary. Now she may be able to leverage the racial divide in the vote in South Carolina (Obama didn't break 35% of the white vote - again) into white backlash against Obama, as some commentators have suggested.

But I really, truly wonder if she can win the general election. This isn't a new question. She's hated, and you have to wonder why it is that she is so polarizing. Well, the gracelessness of the speech I just watched - where she had a chance to say more than a passing congratulation to Obama - is a good start. People in the public eye, at some point reveal their real character. We're seeing Hillary's.

So I wonder if she can win the race, and to be honest - I now wonder if she should.

How in the world are the Democrats in this situation today? How is it not going to be a coronation for the Democratic candidate?

Interesting...for me, I'm waiting to see where my opinions will lead me in the general - if Obama's weak (sadly very weak) national security policies will tip me to the GOP, or if my belief in the long-term benefit of giving the Democrats ownership of the problem outweighs those concerns. See K-Lo at the Corner for a counter.

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  • hypocrisyrules: You mean you don't want government rationing your healthcare based read more
  • hypocrisyrules: Glen, LOL! Clearly, I'm being a bit tongue in cheek. read more
  • Armed Liberal: You mean you don't want government rationing your healthcare based read more

January 25, 2008

Saddam Talked About WMD

By Armed Liberal at 00:03

This is going to trigger some interesting discussion. And very timely, considering the '935 lies' campaign.

Saddam Hussein initially didn't think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen. The Iraqi dictator revealed this thinking to George Piro, the FBI agent assigned to interrogate him after his capture.

For me, this remains one of the logical answers as to why Saddam didn't come clean on his programs, and why Bush would have risked the obvious problems resulting from lying about the intelligence.

I've talked in the past about this:

Why are Missing WMD Like Bad Software?

WMD, or the Risk of WMD?

Leo Strauss and the Missing WMD

Rooking Saddam

Yellowcake and Selling Cars

...and some more, but those will do as starters.

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  • J Aguilar: Yes, probably, but check that Iran had already that capability read more
  • alchemist: you have the best armies but not the will to read more
  • J Aguilar: IMHO and from a geopolitical point of view, what Saddam read more

January 23, 2008

How China brought down the Berlin Wall

By Donald Sensing at 21:00 reports on the legacy left by the East German secret police:
For such an organized state, East Germany fell apart in a decidedly messy way. When the country's eastern bloc neighbors opened their borders in the summer of 1989, tens of thousands of East Germans fled to the West through Hungary and Czechoslovakia. By autumn, protests and riots had spread throughout East Germany, with the participants demanding an end to restrictions on travel and speech. In the first week of October, thousands of demonstrators in Dresden turned violent, throwing rocks at police, who broke up the crowd with dogs, truncheons, and water cannons. The government described the thousand people they arrested as "hooligans" to state-controlled media. But on October 9, the situation escalated. In Leipzig that night, 70,000 people marched peacefully around the city's ring road — which goes right past the Stasi office. Agents asked for permission from Berlin to break up the demonstration, but this was just a few months after the Chinese government had brutally shut down pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, to international condemnation. The East German government didn't want a similar bloodbath, so the Stasi did nothing. A week later, 120,000 people marched; a week after that, the number was 300,000 — in a city with a population of only 530,000.
Interesting connection of events.

Crossposted at Sense of Events.

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  • Blubba: This is actually a widely held belief in Asian countries. read more
  • Wolf Pangloss: Thus proving that in the mind of the left all read more

The Crow Is Back In The Freezer

By Armed Liberal at 16:51

The first numbers are up from the Democratic recount in New Hampshire, and I did some fast calculations on it (you can download the Excel file here).

Basic results:

With 74.7% of the total vote counted (107,906 of 144,362), a total of 922 votes were changed (.85%). With 75.9% of Hillary's vote recounted (45,912 of 60,503), a total of 305 votes changed for a net change of +25 votes. With 73.0% of Obama's vote recounted (36,566 of 50,081), a total of 152 votes changed for a net change of +10 votes.

At this point, I don't see a way - absent massive swings in very few districts - for this to change the result, and what isn't apparent is the widespread shallow difference that would be suggested by the 'Diebold Effect' we talked about in the polls.

My email bulletin from Brad yesterday was headlined:

[BradBlogAlert] NH "Chain of Custody" Disaster;%7.5 Error Rate in Nashua; MUCH MORE...

Yes, one precinct in Nashua (Row 80) did show a 7.4% swing for Hillary. But like the NY Times, outside the context of all the numbers, the number is meaningless.Note that in one district in Manchester, there was a 10% increase in votes for Hillary (row 64) - matched by a 10% increase for Obama. At this point, it's an academically interesting project to analyze the errors and look at the outlier districts. But we're talking about 130 votes out of 144,000.

That won't stop the hysterics from claiming that the election was illegitimate or stolen. But it does explain why I was angry enough to use invective, and why I remain angry at people who devalue the hard work to do to secure elections.

I'll do a longer post on why calm certainty matters soon.

Note: If someone has time to cross-reference the precincts in the spreadsheet with this list of precincts that used Diebold machines, it'd be fun...

Update: Added link to SoS results...

Update 2: After running through the two counties above, Kucinich has pulled the plug and isn't going to fund any more counting. If more data is posted, I'll add it to the table.

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  • Alan: Yep, will do. Just want to make sure that no read more
  • Armed Liberal: Alan, go do some homework before posting, OK? In this read more
  • Avatar: Weren't even the Diebold machines used in this instance using read more

January 22, 2008

Real Journalism

By Armed Liberal at 12:12

Power Line reports that the Fayetteville Observer, a small newspaper in Fayetteville, NC (where Biggest Guy will be in a month) put a stake into the heart of the one meaningful claim that the NYT could make in it's article on killer veterans.

That claim was that the rate of murders, manslaughter, and other fatal bad behavior by soldiers and vets had increased 89% since the start of the war.

The newspaper did some actual journalism, digging through local records - a violation of the Times' journalistic practices, I know - and came to this conclusion:

Data: Combat hasn't caused murder spike

Combat stress has not created a spike in murders by soldiers in the Fayetteville area, according to a search of records by The Fayetteville Observer.

Tracking killings reported in the newspaper before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks showed that more soldiers were accused of murder in the six years before the attacks than in the six years since.

Twelve Fort Bragg soldiers have been accused of killing 13 people in the six-plus years since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Observer records. In the six years before the terrorist attacks, 16 Fort Bragg soldiers were accused of killing 18 people.

Those numbers came from a search of the Observer’s archives and may not be conclusive. Law enforcement agencies do not track killings by whether the accused was a soldier. The Observer examined its own records after a New York Times story published Jan. 13 indicated that homicides involving active-duty service members and new veterans rose 89 percent during the past six years.

Phil Carter's supposition, that the article is based on Lexus/Nexus/Google research looks much more likely based on this. I may reach out to the paper in Columbia and ask if they'd consider doing the same thing.

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  • bgates: I deeply enjoy the fact that the primary defender of read more
  • Dave: Davebo at 25 And I'm just fleshing it out in read more
  • AMac: According to, "approximately 43,000 military and 8,000 civilian personnel read more

No More Than a “Refuge”.

By Tarek Heggy at 10:56

Many in Egypt today are talking about two features that have come to dominate the country’s social landscape. The first is that manifestations of piety have become far more widespread in recent times than they were a century ago. The second is that there is a noticeable upsurge in behavioural aberrations at the societal level, where tension, violence, aggression and lack of civility in dealings between members of society have become the norm. While neither of these observations can be denied, there is an obvious contradiction between them. If the religiosity that has come to permeate society’s cultural climate and the manifestations of piety displayed by its members have not prevented the decline in moral standards, civility and social ethics, this can only mean that piety, or, more accurately, the understanding of piety that has come to prevail, does not serve the interests of society. This is by no means to deny that there are among those who subscribe to this understanding of piety admirable examples of moral rectitude. But I am talking here of a general phenomenon, not individual cases.

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  • Naim S. Mahlab: To me, piety is equivalent to abdication of personal responsibility. read more
  • Naim S. Mahlab: To me, piety is equivalent to abdication of personal responsibility. read more
  • Monty: Piety isn't very well regarded among westerners. It is seen read more

The Few. The Proud. The Morons.

By Donald Sensing at 01:28

If you watched the football playoffs yesterday, you almost certainly saw this ad:

Gerard Van Der Leun observes:

You might recall that San Francisco refused to cooperate in the making of this film: Marines Denied Permission To Film Commercial 11/29/07.
Film Commission Executive Director Stefanie Coyote would only allow the Marine's production crew to film on California Street if there were no Marines in the picture. They wound up filming the empty street and will have to superimpose the Marines later.
Which led a commenter to remark, "San Francisco: the Few, the Proud, the Morons."

Cross-posted at Sense of Events.

Update: It seems that the report about the SF film commission are rebutted by the president of the film company contracted by the Marines to shoot the ad. Details below the fold:

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  • Dave: Meh, messed up that link. Apologies, fix it if you read more
  • Dave: Donald, both you and GearMaven lean too heavily on assuming read more
  • Big_Mike: To another_dan: Actually, we're both wrong. According to (link) Petigru read more

January 21, 2008

Ouch ^ 2

By Armed Liberal at 16:40

Journalism 101.

Bob Owens, the blogger who keeps acting like a reporter (ought to) has been chasing Beauchamp documents through FOIA. (Note: the TNR crew, with lawyers and editors and everything, apparently thought this would be ... who knows).

He'll be streaming the documents up all day. Go check them out and give him a big atta-boy.

Foer, not so much.

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  • Glen Wishard: So Beauchamp went AWOL twice. Funny he didn't write a read more
  • Thorley Winston: I don’t know if anyone has been watching the new read more


By Armed Liberal at 15:14

This comment's got to leave a mark.

(via Chapomatic)

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  • avedis: ".....If that's the point you've been trying to make - read more
  • Dave: Chris P at #4 I was thinking that too - read more
  • Armed Liberal: Actually, avedis, I'd say no. The comment as I read read more

MLK Day 2008

By Armed Liberal at 13:05

I worry sometimes that MLK Day will become a generic holiday, like "President's Day" and we'll forget what it is we're supposed to be honoring today.

Last year, I reposted his 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail', and since bytes are cheap, I'll gladly do it again.

I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face Jeering, and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.

They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My fleets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

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  • TOC: It is hard to overestimate how afraid white people were read more
  • TOC: #4 from lurker at 3:03 am on Jan 22, read more
  • Nortius Maximus: It's not clear to me that JFK did the ordering. read more

January 20, 2008

Culture (And Other) Wars

By Armed Liberal at 21:37

It's been interesting to be at Ft. Benning for the last few days. Biggest Guy had two ceremonies - the 'Turning Blue' ceremony pictured below, and a final graduation at which he and his peers (all except six young men who failed post-Christmas drug tests and were shown the door) were officially accepted as infantry soldiers.

The cultural gap between our family home and his new home are wide - not just everyone in the movie theater standing for the national anthem played before the feature, but the fact that everyone obeys - seriously - the speed limits, the clerk at the videogame store who wouldn't let Littlest Guy buy World of Warcraft without my OK, and that the level of courtesy and helpfulness from everyone from the checkout clerk at the PX/mall to the guard who noticed our expired vehicle pass and sent us back for a new one puts my courteous, helpful suburb of Los Angeles to shame.

I worry more than a little about the military being far too isolated from not only mainstream America, but from the cultural and political elites that run it. The feeling of being in a cocoon on base - in almost every way - got my attention in a not-good way.

But in a Blue America where veterans are objects of fear or pity, I guess it makes sense.

I had fantasies that the New York Times series that I dinged last week would be better than the lead article suggested. The second article is out, and it looks like it won't be.

The article is a human-interest story about a badly damaged veteran, his crime, and the consequences of his crime.

Power Line does the best take on it, and asks the reader to compare the Time's coverage of a murderous vet with a Medal of Honor winning one.

I'll stand on my original comment:

"Because it's not part of the narrative of how our soldiers are either depraved or damaged."

It's funny; I passed up all the Army swag at the PX as kind of tacky - you know, the bumper stickers and license plate frames that seem so cheesy.

After reading the article, I went and ordered one - "I [heart] my soldier". Once we mount it, I can't wait for the reactions our hybrid gets when we valet park it in West Los Angeles.

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  • corvan: Sorry, there were a couple of sudden family matters I read more
  • Chap: This is not the first time I've seen an indignant read more
  • Bart Hall (Kansas, USA): #4 and others looking for "real data" about blue state read more


By Armed Liberal at 00:30

This just came from Biggest Guy's relatives in France: documentary footage of his grandfather flying a bombing mission as a member of the Free French air force in WWII (he's the guy in the goofy helmet).

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  • Armed Liberal: It was from something the family in France (his daughters) read more
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January 17, 2008


By Armed Liberal at 21:20


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  • TK: Hooray for Biggest Guy! And kudos to him for making read more
  • Armed Liberal: hypo - you can only imagine how much I agree read more

January 16, 2008

Race And Democratic Politics

By Armed Liberal at 11:48

In light of the contremps between Obama and Hillary last week, I thought I'd unearth an old Armed Liberal post:


One of my best friends spent years as a community organizer for parks in New York City. She is a fountain of funny stories and 'on-the-ground' political wisdom, and one of her truisms is: dog doo ends all meetings.

That is to say, much like Godwin's Law, as soon as dog waste is brought up, the meeting is effectively over. The room divides, the tempers get hot, and constructive discussion flies out the window.

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  • annie palovcik: [Spam. Deleted. --NM] read more
  • TOC: I think the great thing about America, throughout its history read more
  • Foobarista: I've never quite understood what the "conversation about race" is read more

Start Sauteeing The Crow

By Armed Liberal at 03:50

As irritated as I was at Brad Friedman for coming out of the gate with what I saw as a conclusion unsupported by specific evidence, I fully share his discomfort with the current technology and processes used in voting in New Hampshire.

Now, the first rigorous study I've seen of the voter data has come out - and it supports him. Chris Chatham at 'Developing Intelligence' writes:

To my complete (and continuing) amazement, the "diebold effect" on Hillary's votes remains after controlling for any and all of those demographic variables, with a p-value of <.001: that is, there are less than 1:1000 odds for this difference occurring through chance alone, and that's after adjusting for variability in Hillary's votes due to education, income, total population, and population density.

Go read the whole thing.

Kucinich is paying for a recount (the questionable machines were optical scanners, not DVR touchscreens - in which case no recount would be possible). If there were material discrepancies, the 'Vince Foster was murdered' crowd are going to have a field day, and the Democratic nominating process will be more fun than the first episode of the Sopranos.

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  • Toc: Well, tastes in election fraud like everything else runs along read more
  • Wolf Pangloss: By the way, A.L., have you thought about deep frying read more
  • Wolf Pangloss: What I was getting at in #3 is the same read more

January 15, 2008

The Number Is 1.6 Million

By Armed Liberal at 16:53

According to the Pentagon's press ops people, accessed via the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, approximately 1.6 million individual troops have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of the war in late 01/early 02.

They don't have readily available separation of those who have actually been in combat roles and those who haven't.

I'll call this the 'golden' number at this point.

That makes the rate of homicide (given the NYT 121 number) 7.6/100,000.

See AMac's analysis in the comments here for a good framework to put on this.

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  • NLEK: Someone may have already mentioned this but the Times' number read more
  • Matthew Hensley: I am wondering if you'd have to go even further read more
  • avedis: As much as the NYT is being correctly described here read more

TEOLAWKI looms again

By Donald Sensing at 04:43

TEOLAWKI - The End of Life as We Know It - threatens again.

Folks, the news from outer space just keeps getting worse and worse.

First, the supernova and galactic-attack scenarios.

Then the predicted return of the comet Genondahwayanung, which pretty much annihilated most life in North America when it came here the first time.

And now?

Massive Gas Cloud Speeding Toward Collision With Milky Way!

ScienceDaily (Jan. 13, 2008) — A giant cloud of hydrogen gas is speeding toward a collision with our Milky Way Galaxy, and when it hits -- in less than 40 million years -- it may set off a spectacular burst of stellar fireworks.

Time is running out. Don't go see "The Bucket List," make your own bucket list!

"The leading edge of this cloud is already interacting with gas from our Galaxy," said Felix J. Lockman, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
Fireworks? Fireworks? Good heavens, man, it's TEOLAWKI!

Hat tip: American Digest, whose post leads with this priceless nugget: "Our premise made stupid: Study Shows over 68% of Science Stories Have Scientific Errors but.... but "over 42% of the stories were completely accurate."

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January 14, 2008

Battlefield Heroism: Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

By Joe Katzman at 03:41

"On a clear night last spring in Afghanistan's eastern mountains, a U.S. infantry platoon went looking for an al-Qaida operative named Habib Jan, and they found him. Outside an abandoned village clinging to a rocky hillside, the platoon was ambushed in a rain of deadly rifle and machine gun fire. Twenty-seven Americans and five Afghan Army fighters together fought 90 or 100 of Habib Jan's Islamist extremists.

For 17 hours, the American platoon was pinned down. Bullets snapped and hissed as the enemy slowly closed in. Ammunition ran low. Water ran out. Sniper rounds plucked at the soldiers' helmets and sleeves and drilled through boots as they shifted and returned fire. Night stretched into day and on into night again and the fighting intensified."

Great story from the Baltimore Sun regarding an intense firefight in Afghanistan. Which they got despite the Army, not because of it. It's a pretty heroic tale, as 3 Silver Stars for the action would tend to indicate, and a tactical success. But the Army won't release the information, citing Pentagon rules that are later proved not to exist... whereupon the Army does not change its position. The troops involved think this is b.s. Decorated Vietnam combat vet and historian Doug Sterner puts it succinctly:

"The military's always complaining about how nobody writes about their heroes. Well, how the hell are you supposed to write about heroes if the Defense Department doesn't give up the information?"

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  • Towering Barbarian: The only thing I can think of that would make read more
  • davod: I know that stupidity rather than conspiracy is more likely, read more

January 13, 2008

Death from above, continent-wide

By Donald Sensing at 18:34

A team of scientists say that a large comet exploded over eastern Canada almost 13,000 years ago, causing mass, near-instant extinctions of 35 genera of animals and killing 70 percent of human beings in North America, thus snuffing out the Pleistocene Clovis cultures practically overnight.

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  • Dennis Cox: If a laymans hypothesis is worthy of any consideration you'll read more
  • Joe Katzman: Scienceblogs suggests that overhunting may have been true, but can't read more
  • louise: Responding to comment #9- Why are only the human-familiar animals read more

The Media Does It Again

By Armed Liberal at 01:07

Today, the NY Times has the first part of a special series - War Torn:Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles. It appears that the troops are coming home and becoming murderers.

Town by town across the country, headlines have been telling similar stories. Lakewood, Wash.: "Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife." Pierre, S.D.: "Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress." Colorado Springs: "Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring."

Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment - along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems - appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

And we're presented with a litany of tragedy.

But as usual, I keep asking the simple question - well, what does it mean? How do these 121 murderers compare with the base rate of murderers in the population?

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  • belloscm: B.S. meter was on the "Bill Clinton Moving His read more
  • belloscm: Amac, On the subject of selection bias, was "Charged and read more
  • mark: belloscm, Uncle. On to the playoffs. read more

January 12, 2008

Motorcycle Stunting In Baghdad

By Armed Liberal at 20:35


He's riding a 900cc Suzuki...and needs a helmet!

See the CNN slideshow here.

How could I not be interested? (from CNN, hat tip to Tim Blair)

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Department Of (Un?)Intentional Irony

By Armed Liberal at 19:26

Two things I tagged because they amused me...

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  • hypocrisyrules: then there is intentional irony that works for me too. read more

Timeout Issues

By Armed Liberal at 19:14

I'm having intermittent timeout issues with Winds. Before I ask the crack technical team (hi, Ev!) to take time and look - is anyone else having problems like this?

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  • Tim Oren: Yes, had a lot of problems with timeout on loading read more
  • hypocrisyrules: Yes, it's been happening for about a week now. Comes read more
  • Robin Roberts: Lots of timeouts for me, Marc, within last 10 or read more

Returns of the Day to Ann Althouse

By Armed Liberal at 19:10

Happy birthday to Ann Althouse!!

When I was shuttling to New York, we had a few entertaining dinners; she's smart, unique and funny. Another good person I've met through blogging...

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January 11, 2008

Chick Fighter Pilot's Association

By Joe Katzman at 09:10

Chick Fighter Pilots Cartoon

Capt. Allison "Angel of Death" Black. Maj. Melissa "SHOCK" May. Not to mention STAC, Schwing, CUDA, Lex, G-spot, Fifi, Hak, Torch, Snake, Shaq, Blaze, Tuzzi, and many others. If it flies, they fly it. Stealth fighters, F-16s, bombers, special forces gunships, you name it. Gannett's Air Force Times has a few stories for you. (Hat Tip: Spoook86)

Master Sgt. Kimberly Sulipeck, with 450 hours on AC-130H gunships in Afghanistan, nails it:

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  • oscar colltellacci: After reading the story of capt. Blacke I am deeply read more
  • john gibson: did you know that in the uk women were used read more
  • belloscm: I recently retired from the Navy (MCPO) after 30 yrs. read more

Loose Lips Sink Ships - vid. Ron Paul

By Joe Katzman at 07:50

Uh, remember when I talked about thinking before writing. Turns out that this applies beyond the Internet.

If the New Republic story "Angry White Man" is true, Ron Paul's campaign will face a very different reception henceforth. Would be nice if they'd apply the same effort to Democrats, but hey, this is the media and you can read the Pew surveys as well as I can.

This will get media play, and the interesting thing I'll be watching will be how his supporters react. Some of the arguments he makes, and which TNR quotes, are defensible. A focus on the rights of the AIDS-infected, without consideration for the rights of those they could infect sans disclosure, killed quite a few people. Other arguments are less defensible, and the overall tone is definitely something to give one pause. Along with the question of why the continuation of that conspiracist tone and outlook has found such a receptive social and media audience these days. Now that the story is out, and the topic is on the table, the question of what happens next gets even more interesting... and, in some ways, more revealing.

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  • TOC: #8 from PD Shaw at 5:24 pm on Jan read more
  • PD Shaw: Ronulans? He'll always be Obi-Ron to me: Widely respected for read more
  • Joe Katzman: It would appear that TNR has pierced the Ronulan cloaking read more

Stephen Green Demonstrates How Not to Talk to People

By Joe Katzman at 07:23

Stephen Green writes a "what were they thinking" post about Huckabee's lead in a caucus (note: not primary) in Iowa. He might have pondered his own concept before penning it, because it makes a smart guy look like an insulated, naive, poorly brought up snob. One of the comments is from someone in Iowa, who - rightly - invites him to go f--k himself.

There's going to be a lot of ink spilled about Huckabee, some of it vitriolic, because hey, this is politics and he threw his hat into the ring. So be it. But there's a reason folks are attracted to candidates, and except for some cases of folks who are clearly way over the line (David Duke, Al Sharpton), it usually worthwhile to think first about the real reasons people support the folks they do. Might even learn something in the process. Or, if you'd rather, turn your guns on the candidate himself and let fly, if you have a case. But that sure isn't what he did.

Stephen is too smart to be pulling stupid human tricks like this. Dude, this is the internet. What you wrote going to be public for a very long time. And I guarantee you, the day will come - and perhaps already has - when you look at that and are not proud.

Sensei Scott "Dilbert" Adams has a theory that everyone is stupid at least some of the time. It's true. And it's forgivable, as long as folks don't abuse the privilege. Do better next time, my friend.

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  • M. Simon: Speaking of Al Sharpton - he has had homage paid read more
  • AMac: came up fine at my workplace computer. From home, read more
  • David_Blue: I can't, Damon. My experience is the same as yours. read more

January 10, 2008

Diebold, Tawana Brawley, and The Brad Blog

By Armed Liberal at 08:29

Update: Brad called, and disagrees with the points I'm trying to make, and was deeply unhappy both at the way I characterized him and at the fact that I hadn't made an effort to contact him before slamming him publicly as I did. He's wrong, I think, on the substance, and absolutely right on the style. The tone of this post is far more hostile than it should have been, and while I am 'torqued' at the way he's dealing with the issue, and disagree with him pretty substantially, I want to apologize both for not letting him know I thought he was wrong and for the tone I take below. My bad, and I thought I'd learned that lesson. Maybe this time.

I actually have met and personally like Brad of BradBlog; while I might have been on the voting machine issue early, he was tireless in raising awareness on the issue and deserves tons of credit for that.

Now I kind of think he deserves a boot to the head (from the Frantics sketch, folks, calm down). He's gone off the deep end, suggesting that the difference between polls and results in NH was the result of a Diebold conspiracy. No, really.

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  • AMac: The discussion has moved to the comments section of A.L.'s read more
  • Brad Friedman: Someone up there said: I'm in total agreement that current read more
  • Phil: #19 from PD Shaw at 2:46 am on Jan 11, read more

A Hawkish Case For A Democrat - Any Democrat

By Armed Liberal at 01:59

I've been watching the upcoming election with some amusement - I wish I could muster enthusiasm instead - and thinking about how to decide who I'm likely to support.

On a range of domestic issues, I ought to be clearly an Obama supporter; but issues are one thing and competence, experience, and judgment another. And, as ought to be clear to most of the folks who read me with any interest at all, I've been willing to put my domestic agenda on hold while we deal with the problem of a hostile movement within a newly powerful Islamic world.

So I sat down and tried to map out the conditions for making a decision based on that one issue. And I came to an interesting hypothesis that I'd like to try out on the hawkish readers here.

It just may be the case that hawkish folks like me would see our policies better off - far better off - with a Democratic president in 2009.

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  • TOC: Well, over the past few weeks, since before you left read more
  • Armed Liberal: TOC, we're on track to constructive discussion here - don't read more

January 9, 2008

Andrew Olmsted

By Armed Liberal at 16:42

I want to write about Andrew Olmsted, but nothing intelligent or useful comes out that hasn't been said better by others. He was a part of the larger community of Damn Good People I've met through blogging - people who I agree with, disagree with, have learned a ton from, and hope maybe to have shown a cheap trick or two. I value that community extraordinarily much, as did Andrew apparently.

I'm assuming you've read his post from beyond linked below and found on Hilzoy's site here; if not, go do it now.

I know I keep asking people to donate to things, but look at it this way - there are a lot of places where a hundred or two $15 checks could make a real difference. And if I can help steer some of those checks, and help some folks pay bills, maybe it's a part of what I can do as part of in 'making a tiny dent in history's Green Monster' as Andrew put it.

Andrew's family just suggested that if people want to do something in his memory, they might donate to the children of Capt. Thomas Casey, who was killed coming to Andrew's aid.

I just sent $50 to

Capt. Thomas Casey Children’s Fund
P.O. Box 1306
Chester, CA 96020

and I'll match the next $200 that Winds readers send. Put your commitment in the comments below.

Regular blogging will resume later today.

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  • Armed Liberal: Check sent. read more
  • Erich Schwarz: I've sent in $60 to the fund. Thanks for passing read more
  • tagryn: I'm sending in $20 to the fund. read more

The Rings on Zarqawi's Finger

By Michael Totten at 08:57


“I am a ring on your finger.” — Al Qaeda in Iraq member Abu Anas to Abu Musab Al Zarqawi

Since Abu Musab Al Zarqawi formed the Al Qaeda in Iraq franchise, the terrorist group that destroyed the World Trade Center has fought American soldiers and what they call the near enemy, fellow Muslims, instead of civilians in the homeland of the far enemy, the United States. This may be good for Americans, but it has been a catastrophe for Iraqis – especially in Baghdad, Ramadi, and Fallujah.

I had lunch with several Iraqi Police officers and spoke to them afterward about this searing conflict that raged for years in their city and that only quieted down a few months ago. Trauma and war are still fresh, enough so that they don't want me to publish their names or their pictures. Nor do they want me to identify their police station. So I’ll just say they work somewhere in the vicinity of Fallujah. And I’ll call them Omar, Mohammed, Ahmed, and Mahmoud – generic Arabic names which are pseudonyms.

“What did you think of the Americans a few years ago when they first got here?” I said.

“The United States made a big mistake when they invaded Iraq,” Omar said. “They destroyed the Iraqi Army. They destroyed the whole army when they invaded. They lost their right hand against the insurgents. They lost a good partner that could have really helped in the future. In the beginning if they had just kept the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police, somebody would have been backing them.”

“Do you think invading Iraq was the right decision, or was it a mistake?” I said.

“It was a surprise invasion for both the Americans and the Iraqis,” he said. “They had no ability to analyze the actions they were taking. Neither the Iraqis nor the Americans could understand what was going on. All the casualties during the invasion were Americans and Iraqis. None were the third party. We were both losers. If we had just started with political methods to accomplish the mission, it would have been far better than the military action. As a result, the Iraqi people and the American people were losers.”

read the rest at

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  • avedis: Michael, followed the link a chez vous and read the read more

Baseball Hall of Fame 2008

By Joe Katzman at 06:22

Rich "Goose" Gossage was the only candidate inducted into Cooperstown this year by the writers. He got 466 votes, over 85%. You need 75% to qualify for the Baseball Hall of Fame. If there was a Hall of Fame for mustaches, Goose would have been inducted long ago. I'm glad for him, because he has waited for a long time, but my personal feeling is that he's kind of on the bubble in terms of players who should be admitted.

Boston's Jim Rice fell 16 votes short this year at 392, 72.6%. Next year will be his last shot. Which is fine - to me, Rice is the poster boy for an All-Star player, a wonderful player, who is not a Hall of Fame player. If you're a Boston fan, chill out and wait 6-7 years for the grand party that will be Curt Schilling's well-deserved induction.

Mark McGwire got exactly the same number of votes he got in 2007 - 128. Which is unusual, usually it goes up. Looks like the steroids issue is really biting. It's quite possible that he will never make it in... Sosa is an almost certain "no" now, and even Bonds is in question. 5 years ago, could you have imagined that?

The only guy I'd vote for who did not make the Hall in 2008 is Lee Smith. I'd think about Bert Blyleven, and Tommy John too.

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  • TOC: Trammel - no. Morris real close but just not enough. read more
  • Joe Katzman: Morris is another guy who might define the "really good, read more
  • Oclarki: Goose Gossage basically defined the modern closer. For that alone read more

When galaxies attack

By Donald Sensing at 01:29
"New Risk to Earth Found in Supernova Explosions"
Eta Carinae is drawing closer to its ultimate explosive demise. When Eta Carinae explodes, it will be a spectacular fireworks display seen from Earth, perhaps rivaling the moon in brilliance.

An explosive star within our galaxy is showing signs of an impending eruption, at least in a cosmic time frame, and has for quite some time. From 1838 to 1858, the star called Eta Carinae brightened to rival the light of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, and then faded to a dim star. Since 1940 it has been brightening again, and scientists think Eta Carinae will detonate in 10,000 to 20,000 years.
And it gets worse.
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  • Donald Sensing: "Relative" term - Hah! Good one, Einstein! read more
  • Gramarye: Well, "much" is a relative term in that context. read more
  • Donald Sensing: Yes, most people don't realize that the middle 2/3 or read more

January 7, 2008

The 500 mpg car

By Donald Sensing at 16:55

I wrote last Friday (Can we cash-starve the oil tyrannies? Probably not) about whether the United States could starve Saudi-funded terrorism by eliminating the petrodollars the Saudis earn from selling us 1.53 million barrels of oil per day. At $90 per barrel, they earn approximately $137 million every day from American buyers.

We would either have to find another source for that much oil or find ways to reduce our demand equivalently. In fact, both are possible but neither would matter. The Saudis are in the catbird seat since worldwide demand for oil is rising more than fast enough for them to sell all the oil they can pump.

Even so, Saudi petrodollars are source of a great deal of the world's misery, including dollars backchanneled by Saudi princes to al Qaeda or its Islamist allies. Even though the Saudis could replace the American export market fairly easily, we should still reduce our dependence on oil as much as possible. Oil is the most important strategic substance in the world today. As demand rises, it will become more so.

So this post will address whether we can reduce our need for oil enough to substantially decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

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  • Armed Liberal: Tim (#28) It depends on what problem we're trying to read more
  • Tim Oren: #30: Hydrogen is not an energy source. It is an read more
  • Mark Buehner: In 10 years we can get this nation majority nuclear read more

January Afghanistan update

By Donald Sensing at 16:48
My co-blogger, Afghanistan veteran Lt. Col. John Krenson, TNARNG, has posted an update on the situation there.
The Bush Administration has begun to shift some new focus to Afghanistan for fear that it has lost some of its focus there in the last year. If the Bush administration has indeed lost focus there, then it must be true most of the rest of us have as well. Since 2003 Iraq has consumed us and Afghanistan become an oft referred to “forgotten war”. So with a positive turnaround in Iraq, current events in Pakistan such as they are and the start of a new year it behooves us to look back at Afghanistan and think about what lies ahead there.
There's a lot more.
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  • Joe Katzman: The question is still Palkistan. Al-Qaeda's plans have always extended read more

"40-Second Boyd" and the Big Picture

By Joe Katzman at 03:06

"To be challenged in such a manner is an irresistible red flag to men like this, and certainly no less of one because the challenger was a rude, loud, irreverent braggart who had never been victorious in actual air-to-air combat. And yet that forty dollars went uncollected, uncollected for many years against scores of the best fighter pilots in the world.

That is more than luck. That is more than skill. That is more than tactics. That level of supremacy is the result of the ability to see things in an entirely new way. It is the difference between escaping from a maze you are embedded in, versus finding the way out from one that you look down upon from above.

Having your ass handed to you in such a spectacular and repeated fashion causes some men to curse and mutter about ‘one trick ponies’ and so on. But for others, for those who are more invested in victory than in ego, it reveals a level of skill that instantly removes all swagger and competition and puts one in the place of a willing supplicant, eager for knowledge."

Here at Winds of Change.NET, we've talked about a fighter pilot named Col. John Boyd - always with immense respect. Many of you will look at that name and think "Who?"

OK, think Sir Basil Liddell Hart. Too obscure? Then try these names on for size as compatriots: Karl von Clausewitz. Sun Tzu. Do we have your attention yet?

I don't think that it's stretching Boyd's importance, or his contribution, very much to place him in that company. Indeed, I predict that in a couple hundred years, when people look back on the 20th century and think of the theory of warfare and armed conflict, they won't think of Mikhail Tukachevsky, or his student Guederian. Or even Sir Basil. Instead, they'll mention an American Colonel who was, for a very long time, a prophet without honor in his own country.

Which may lead you to ask the question: "how come I haven't heard of this guy?" Rather than explaining all the reasons, I'd rather take a more productive tack - and direct you to an immensely readable, riveting, but brief explanation of who Boyd was, what he discovered, and why it matters more than ever today...

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  • chuck: ...they are men who survive because they can (and have) read more
  • Joe Katzman: Yup, Bill's grandfather invented the jet engine for the allies, read more

January 5, 2008

A Death in the Family: Andrew Olmsted Killed In Iraq

By Andrew Olmsted at 03:55

Joe Katzman: All soldiers have a Last Post. Fittingly, Maj. Andrew Olmsted's will endure beyond the trumpet's fading notes. He was a member of the Winds team, the Winds family, best known for his Iraq Report briefings. He also blogged for his local Rocky Mountain News, and at other sites including Obsidian Wings. Some day, he says, his own site with this entry may come down. We've offered to host it on our server to avert that possibility; but regardless of what happens with that, so long as Winds of Change.NET endures, his words will endure here. As will his memory.

I am terribly sorry my friend and colleague Andrew Olmsted is dead. I am very grateful that he lived, and that others like him live still.

"I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here."
- G'Kar, Babylon 5

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."
- Plato*

This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G'Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It's not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn't hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don't know. I hope so. It's frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won't get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.

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  • Gary Farber: The completest set of links about Andy is now here. read more
  • Robin Roberts: Yeah, it was not a good week Marc. read more
  • Armed Liberal: Oh, this isn't what I wanted to come home to. read more

January 4, 2008

Can we cash-starve Saudi terror funders? Probably not.

By Donald Sensing at 22:04

The questions are these:

Can we stop or at least enormously reduce the amount of oil we import from countries that are unfriendly or even hostile to the United States?

And if we can, will it matter much to their funding of terrorism?

The short answers: yes to the first question, no to the second.

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  • Nortius Maximus: That's dangerously close to drive-by territory, Bill. We'll give you read more
  • Bill in Chicago: I think your conclusion is the same as mine after read more
  • M. Simon: WB-7 First Plasma The world has just changed. Cheap fusion read more

Posts, Comments, and the Civility of Being Topical

By Joe Katzman at 05:48

During the holiday season, Armed Liberal wrote "Offline For A Bit, And Thinking About This Place" about the tone of the blog, and how the place was moving away from what he wanted to see. I assume he has been thinking about what to do, as he said he would, during his time in France. Perhaps it will give him ideas. Perhaps it will give him a perspective on veritable elite rudeness, and he'll chill about it all. But I paid close attention to the fact that he does consider this a serious issue - one that affects his interest level.

Along those lines, a recent thread reminded me of this bit in the Winds' comments policy, which has been in place for a long time:

"Rule #4: Our authors work hard to produce worthwhile, interesting stuff. The best way to respect that is to engage their material. They (and we) tend to be unhappy when people "hijack" the comments section to post unrelated material, especially material that is likely to take over that comments section. If a post [JK: meaning comment] isn't on topic and doesn't contribute anything worthwhile, I'll consider removing it. We still give pretty broad latitude re: relevance, and we'll usually try to steer things back on track with a simple request - but I must admit, I'm getting a bit faster on the draw with this than I used to be."

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January 3, 2008

Olmert: "Hand of God" guiding U.S., Europe's leaders

By Donald Sensing at 15:58

Big Four's leaders "divinely ordained," says Israeli PM

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on factors working in Israel's favor on the world scene:
Indeed, said the prime minister, there was currently an almost divinely ordained constellation of key personalities on the international stage favorably disposed to Israel, creating comfortable conditions for negotiations that might never be replicated.

"It's a coincidence that is almost 'the hand of God,'" Olmert said, "that Bush is president of the United States, that Nicolas Sarkozy is the president of France, that Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, that Gordon Brown is the prime minister of England and that the special envoy to the Middle East is Tony Blair."

The imperative, he said, was to make every effort for progress while this array of supportive characters remained in place.

"What possible combination," he asked, "could be more comfortable for the State of Israel?"
Olmert was also indirectly quoted in the JPost's article that "Israel needs to internalize that even its supportive friends on the international stage conceive of the country's future on the basis of the 1967 borders and with Jerusalem divided."
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The Reagan-Kennedy Debate

By Joe Katzman at 03:40

Back in May 2007, Paul Kengor reminded us all of a landmark TV debate:

"On May 15, 1967, there was a fascinating debate between California’s new Republican governor, Ronald Reagan, and New York’s new Democratic senator, Robert F. Kennedy. The subject: the Vietnam War... billed by CBS as a "Town Meeting of the World." [and including participating students from various countries] ...The debate was watched by a huge audience: 15 million Americans. There was total agreement, including among media sources who revered Bobby Kennedy, from the San Francisco Chronicle to Newsweek, that Reagan overwhelmingly won the debate...."

Which even a casual reading of the dry transcript, without any of Reagan's other personal skills factored in, will confirm. Then, too, there's Kennedy's orders to his aides not to put him on stage with Reagan again, after asking them "Who the f--- got me into this?" In an unrehearsed free for all, Ronald Reagan demonstrated model command of both debating skills and factual points while thinking on his feet - far more so than Bobby Kennedy, another intelligent man I happen to respect.

This shouldn't surprise you. Back in March 2007, Tom Evans explained...

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January 2, 2008

A Plan to Kill Everyone

By Michael Totten at 09:57


"War, children, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away" – The Rolling Stones, from “Gimme Shelter”

FALLUJAH — A sign on the door leading out of India Company’s Combat Operations Center says “Have a Plan to Kill Everyone You Meet.” For a fraction of second I thought it might be some kind of joke. But I was with the Marine Corps in Fallujah, and it wasn’t a joke.

I asked Captain Stewart Glenn if he could explain and perhaps elaborate a bit on what, exactly, that sign is about. “It’s pretty straightforward,” he said rather bluntly. “It means exactly what it says.”

Welcome to counterinsurgency.

A sign outside Lieutenant Nathan Bibler’s Joint Security Station in the slums of Fallujah makes the point a little more clearly, and delicately. “Look at everyone as though they are trying to kill you, but you cannot treat them that way.”

“The threat's always there,” Sergeant Chuck Balley told me as he looked blankly at nothing in particular. “Everybody is sketchy.”

Maybe they are. But very few people in Fallujah try to kill Americans – or other Iraqis – anymore. It has been months since a single Marine in Fallujah has been even wounded, let alone killed. But at least a handful of disorganized insurgents still lurk in the city. Once a week or so somebody takes a shot at the Americans.

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Easy New Year's Resolution: Let's Say Thanks

By Joe Katzman at 01:32

Here's a fine effort by Xerox, with some assistance from the Boys and Girls Clubs, print shops and other corporations. Let's Say Thanks:

"The mission of Let's Say Thanks is to provide a way for individuals across the country to recognize U.S. troops stationed overseas. By submitting a message through this site you have the opportunity to send a free personalized postcard greeting to deployed servicemen and women.

The postcards, depicting patriotic scenes and hometown images, were selected from a pool of entries from children across the country.

All you have to do is click on your favorite design and either select the message that best expresses your sentiment or draft a personal note. The postcards are then printed on the Xerox iGen3® Digital Production Press and mailed in care packages by military support organization Give2TheTroops®."

Hat tip to Judith Weiss for bringing it to my attention.

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