At first, it's hilarious to hear Texas bluegrass band The Gourds singing about being rap star Snoop Dogg. Then it becomes strangely compelling, even appropriate - and damn, it works really, really well musically. There's a thesis out there that black culture and redneck culture actually have a lot of similarities, and this would be one of the more interesting possible data points. Too out there not to share:
The Dogg's "Gin and Juice" is definitely not safe for work, unless you're wearing headphones.
Sadly, the video may be a parody, but the underlying truth of Islamic religious cleansing that it illustrates is no parody at all in many parts of the world. This Christmas, how about a thought for the Christians facing it in the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, Indonesia, Nigeria, etc.
"I guess my biggest failure was not getting reelected," he said in an interview with Big Think, referring to the 1980 presidential election.When his minion Warren Christopher shined his shoes and explained
Carter, 86, said the loss taught him "not to ever let American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them." He added, "I did the best I could, but I failed."
Not "maybe we wouldn't be looking down the barrel of a major confrontation with state-supported Islamist radicals." Not "maybe 9/11 wouldn't have happened, and tens of thousands of people wouldn't have died." Not any number of other things involving the United States and our relations with the rest of the world. Ronald effing Reagan's election is as bad a thing as he can imagine.If you wonder why some people (not me) want Palin for President, think about what it means that these clowns are the height of Washington respectability.
I can't imagine a more insular view of things. And I'm terrified that one of the actual people who shaped events can't see past the mirrored window of his political party.
No immediate solution to the war in Afghanistan is likely. The war increasingly resembles a "wicked problem" in which both the constraints and required resources change over time.First Judith Curry, and now Andrew Exum!! (Actually, it's a moderately well-known meme, and one I'm a big fan of...it's nice to see others picking it up)
Sadly, reality is, as Rittel and Weber say, a "wicked" problem. They defined a wicked problem as:This seems like nitpicking,, but to me, it's important. To talk accurately about Afghanistan, it seems necessary to embrace Rittel's (& Webber's) points as ground rules for discussion. There is no expertise deep enough or model elegant enough to lead you to a solution of this problem (this doesn't dismiss either expertise or logic as useless - just that they are not in and of themselves dispositive). You need to start with a measure of humility.
1. There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem.
2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
3. Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad.
4. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a "one-shot operation"; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial-and-error, every attempt counts significantly.
6. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
7. Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
8. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
9. The existence of a discrepancy in representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem's resolution.
10. The planner (designer) has no right to be wrong.
The United States and its allies should commit to a long-term presence in Afghanistan to safeguard vital U.S. interests beyond 2011 and signal to allies and rivals a continued U.S. investment in the region.OK, we'll come back to this.
The United States should focus its residual forces on efforts to defeat al Qaeda throughout the region while supporting a shift to the ANSF leading the continued fight against the Taliban by 2014. Residual U.S. and allied forces will ultimately consist mainly of special operations forces.So it's going to be a ninja/Predator war. Right here, we're walking out onto some thin ice. Someone needs to explain to me exactly how this war is different than the one we fought from 2003 to 2008 - in which we lost control of the political narrative and much of the territory. Now I liked that war - I wanted to keep as small a footprint in Afghanistan as we could, largely because I wanted to focus on Iraq and because I felt that "winning" in Afghanistan was going to be harder than it was worth.
The United States and its allies should begin a phased transition, starting in July 2011, from a large-scale mission employing in excess of 140,000 troops to a more sustainable presence of 25,000-35,000 troops. This enduring U.S. military presence will be sized to both support and enable sustained ANSF combat against the Taliban and maintain relentless U.S. pressure on al Qaeda.So I don't know percentages, but someone's going to have to fuel the helicopters, and fly them, and bring in fuel and ammo, and cook meals, and build hesco barriers, and so on and so forth and that'll leave us with that - 13,000 - 17,000 fighting troops on the best possible day?
The United States should support a successful NATO transition in Afghanistan that enables U.S. allies to return the majority of their forces to Europe and Canada while sustaining a limited contribution of Special Operations Forces (SOF) and trainers to Afghanistan.Reprise of above - bad editing.
The United States and its allies should shift their direct investment in the government in Afghanistan away from Kabul and toward local governance.OK, that's interesting - basically we're going for the warlords and dumping Karzai. I need to think about that, but one immediate objection is that Karzai gets a vote, and he may simply demand - as the best elected official the country's got - that we play ball with him or leave. I'll come back to this...
The United States should use greater political, military and economic leverage over its allies in Pakistan to drive more aggressive action against violent extremist organizations in the region.Come on. I might as well use my "political military and economic leverage" to get Uma Thurman to meet me for dinner in Manhattan this week. If you're going to wish, wish for something plausible. What - exactly - have the last three Administrations been doing regarding Pakistan? And how well has that worked? Short of throwing in with India, cutting off aid, and daring them to move their nukes out of the bunkers, I'm not sure what we can usefully do about Pakistan except kick the can down the road. I thought Obama's people meant for the war in Afghanistan to be a part of that...
The American people must recognize the painful reality that the United States and its allies are locked in a long-term struggle against violent transnational Islamist extremists and their ideology. The syndicate of al Qaeda-inspired violent extremist groups and their animating ideology has not "burned out," or diminished. The threat of attack, to the homeland or to U.S. interests overseas, persists. This fight will necessitate worldwide commitments of U.S. intelligence assets and special operations forces for years - perhaps decades - to come. However, though al Qaeda and its affiliates reach widely, with a significant presence in places such as Yemen and Somalia, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region remains a powerful center for much of this movement and a critical joint in the nexus among groups such as al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET). Continued military, intelligence, economic and political pressure is required globally to deny these groups freedom of action and eventually degrade their capabilities to the point that they do not threaten U.S. interests. But given the global nature of current and potential demands on the U.S. military, and the high economic price the United States is paying, Americans have the right to question whether the prolonged deployment of tens of thousands of general purpose forces (GPF) to execute a large-scale counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is a sound strategy and whether it is, in fact, making them safer.Right. On. With one exception, of course - the slipped-in assumption that intel and SOF are the answer to the problem. I hear the proposal, but want to see how they justify it first.
Under pressure from the United States, President Karzai may fall back on alliances with warlords or precipitously sign on to agreements with insurgent groups whose terms are harmful to U.S. interests. A clear narrative that explains to both the Karzai government and the Afghan people that the United States is entering a new and more sustainable phase of its engagement may gradually help mitigate against some of the most erratic potential reactions. Karzai must be convinced that this new approach represents the most realistic and sustainable option for him, his government and the people of Afghanistan. Such an approach may, in fact, be more in line with Karzai's strategic preferences than the current strategy: This strategy helps fulfill his goal, for example, for a long-term strategic partnership with the United States while significantly reducing U.S. "boots on the ground," one of his recurrent concerns.47 Given the near decade long commitment to date, coupled with diminishing public support for U.S. involvement at home, the alternative - an exit strategy focused on the United States and allies ending their military commitments entirely - must be seen as even less palatable to the leadership in Kabul....wow! that's Uma on Gchat. Seriously, this is "close your eyes and hope" thinking at best. And it is so reminiscent of an earlier era; one in which began when the Raj decided that Britain would reduce it's subsidies to the Afghan warlords and ended with the destruction of Elphinstone's army. Bribing clients is a dangerous activity, because it is likely that they will turn against your interests when the bribes stop.
Iran's most repressed religious minority is also its largest. Members of the community are routinely imprisoned, frequently executed, banned from universities, and ruthlessly repressed economically. Tens of thousands have been murdered by one regime after another. The current government--the Khomeinist "Islamic Republic"--goes farther than any other by vowing to crush these people wherever they live and erase them from the face of the earth.
There are only six or seven million in the entire world, and their spiritual home is in Israel. I am not, however, referring here to the Jews, but to the Bahais.
Their world headquarters is in Israel, and they came during Ottoman times from Persian lands. The nation-state of one of the world's oldest religions now hosts the holiest site of one of the newest, and the nation where the Bahai Faith was born vows to destroy the nation where the Bahai Faith had to migrate.
The strikingly different treatments of these people by Iran and by Israel infuses the looming showdown between the Middle East's two most powerful countries with even more moral clarity than it already had.
Just finished watching the TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska. Stunned at the political brilliance of the concept.
Ray Charles used to use a phrase "country dumb". Which actually meant a country boy (like Ray) smart enough to play to city prejudices when convenient, so they'd underestimate him and end up handing him ground-breaking contracts. He was. They did.
Sarah Palin is "country dumb"...
I still don't think she'd be a good idea as a GOP Presidential candidate. Beginning with the fact that you're taking your best salesperson and making them a manager. If they're a good manager, you're still screwed because you just lost your best salesperson. If they're mediocre or worse, you're screwed twice.
The Presidency is a sales role, but Ms. Palin's style is a problematic fit with the modern office. By its nature, it will take away many of the things that help her connect so well with people. And the GOP has no-one to replace her in the role she's playing at present. NJ Gov. Chris "The Fat Reagan" Christie could certainly grow into that, but right now? Bubkes.
There are other questions in my head, but to me, that's the key one. A President needs a movement and organization behind them to accomplish things. Palin could lead that over the next Presidential term, but can't create it and make it solid enough before the 2012 term begins.
All that aside, you'd have to be a complete, blithering idiot not to respect Palin's political skills. Which, admittedly, hasn't stopped a lot of "smart" people. Top speaker, bestselling author, significant player in key debates ("death panels," anyone?), who has backed a number of winning candidates around the country. Resigning the governorship looks like it has gone from "kiss of death" to "even split" at worst. Now this. It's yet another step beyond in her efforts at reaching right over the partisan media, to define herself to the population on her own terms. The format accentuates many of the things that make her popular, and make her very "relatable" to a lot of people.
Best Presidential candidate in the USA? I'd give that one to Gov. Mitch Daniels, given the times we're in. But I might have to give the nod to Sarah Palin as the best politician in the country.
No wonder so many on the Left are scared of her, and hate her.
For the last couple of years, there have been growing rumbles of concern about Turkey's internal and external tilt toward Islamist rule, abroad and at home. The changes have not been individually revolutionary, but they have been slow and steady. Taken as a whole, they've been dramatic enough for Michael Rubin to title a major Commentary Magazine essay chronicling this slide "Turkey, from Ally to Enemy." This year the Heritage Foundation published a detailed, multi-leveled analysis called "Countering Turkey's Strategic Drift."
But of course, these kinds of guys are right wing crazies. Or just casual travelers. Don't listen to their arguments. Pay attention to the State Department boffins and "adults in the room" who keep saying everything is fine, and dismissing concerns as alarmism.
Except for the inconvenient truth revealed by Wikileaks documents, which shows us a series of unofficial statements from official sources the that are a lot closer to the analyses put out by guys like Rubin and the Heritage Foundation.
The moral of the story is left as an exercise for the reader.