Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New York Times' Damien Cave and Photog get embed credentials revoked 
..for releasing video of a dying U.S. soldier, in violation of the embedding agreement.

Hat tip: Hot Air

Damien Cave, if you will recall, used to be the Times' useful idiot and go-to stooge for n "Why Recruiters Suck" stories.

He's also on record blaming the lack of recognition of genuine war heroes on the Administration - even though home town presses somehow get wind of their exploits - probably from the f***ing PRESS RELEASES the military puts out that the Times can't be bothered with.

Now he's riding roughshod over basic human decency.

I'm not one of those people who think that such footage must never be shown. But then, I don't sign embedding agreements!

Splash, out


Lara Logan - I'm not making too much of it 
Hot Air's all over Lara Logan for airing Al Qaeda propaganda video without mentioning the source. In the video, Logan interviews a Haifa street "resident" who blames the United States for the fighting there.

While Malkin and Hot Air make much of the fact that the guy wore his headdress "insurgent-style," he's also wearing it "shepherd-boy" style and "day-laborer" style. What I mean is it is very common for Iraqis to wear their headdresses covering their faces, even if it's a 12 year old kid doing nothing but riding a donkey and tending his father's flock of sheep in the countryside.

Don't worry about the bandana.

I'm not even too concerned about her having obtained the video. I think it's obvious that any video showing an Iraqi soldier being kicked around and double-tapped was probably taken by a bad guy. I don't need that explained to me. And Logan could not reasonably have been expected to know that that particular footage had been released already. She's a shoe-leather reporter. She doesn't sit around and watch Al Qaeda websites, I'm sure.

Things get hairier, though, when you consider her failure to note that Al Qaeda is taking credit for the fighting on Haifa Street. I don't think it's unreasonable for her to be aware of the players in the area. And if she was unaware of Al Qaeda taking credit for the fighting specifically, she doesn't have to be as gullible as she was, having clearly omitted information critical to understanding the fighting.

These are venial sins, though, not mortal sins.

I think she's doing the best she can. How she reacts to the controversy in the next few days will reveal much about her professionalism.

Till then, I am cutting some slack.

Paul Friedman, though, the CBS exec who said "I can assure you that [the video] is not from Al Qaeda" is a credulous fool, who is clearly to stupid or naive to know how practitioners of hypermodern warfare leverage a willing media to their purposes. Friedman is seriously overstepping the limits of his knowledge when he assures us the video is not from Al Qaeda. Only an idiot would stake out such a claim - because even if the tape was handed to CBS by a trusted and known source, that tells us nothing about where HE got it from.

Al Qaeda says it's theirs...and they're in more of a position to know than CBS. I wonder if Friedman is the same dolt who told Kim Kommando that her radio show about computers would never work because computers were a passing fad, and the internet was the pet rock of the day - in 1994!!!

That should establish the analytical credentials of CBS right there.

Splash, out


P.S., I thought the Arabic singing on the Al Qaeda tape was pretty cool. Which goes to show you how starved I am for good music. The crap the record labels are spoonfeeding us via the ClearChannels of the world is - like too much Western music - melodically bankrupt.

I would be contemptuous of this man 
...if I considered this no-count to be a man.

As it is, he is unworthy even of that small tribute.

Fortunately, my hope in mankind is restored by the comments to his column.

I defer to Uncle Jimbo to deliver a hall-of-fame quality fisking.

Splash, out


Molly Ivins, RIP 
Although I'm sure I would not have agreed with much she has written for the past 15 years, I was saddened to learn this evening that Molly Ivins lost her battle with cancer.

She was 62.

My condolences to her family, colleagues, and loved ones.

And may her "shrub" prove to be a mighty oak.

Liberal Jews resent being accused of fostering antisemitism 
I say, if the shul fits, wear it!

Pelosi Supports The Troops... 
...By rhetorically backstabbing them and trashing their efforts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, just returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, told a Capitol Hill news conference on Tuesday that her delegation saw no sign that U.S. efforts in Iraq were moving ahead with urgency.

"We went with the hope and expectation that what we would see in Iraq was some coordinated effort to have political solutions, to relieve the civil strife and violence there, and diplomatic efforts to bring stability to the region," Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "We saw no evidence of either, sadly."

Yeah, right. Our people in Iraq do nothing but drink tea and torture people.

Splash, out


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Guard Readiness 
A new congressional report says that the Guard is short of equipment.

Yep. But that's not a direct result of the war so much as the cumulative result of decades of neglect, with Guard units making do with Active component hand-me-downs. Then when guardsmen do go to war, they have to climb a steep learning curve as they get hands on new equipment for the first time.

My own unit deployed with trucks hopelessly unsuited to the task. While the rest of the Army had double axel deuces, five tons, and HEMM-Ts and LMTVs, we were using ancient, decrepid M35A3s, so fragile that they couldn't be sandbagged to protect troops without damaging the suspensions, and so old that we couldn't even get parts for them in theater. The Army didn't carry them on their system. The trucks were incompatible with the Army logistical system.

That wasn't the war. That was just bad or cheap procurement over the years, over both Republican and Democrat administrations, both at the state and federal level.

In the long run, you get what you pay for. And we didn't get much.

When a whole Brigade deploys, of course they're going to take their equipment with them. But if the troops are gone, you don't need so much equipment, do you?

You would think we could fix this by having a standard brigade civil defense gear plus-up that goes to whatever state is mobilizing a Guard brigade. This includes a basic, abbreviated package of communications gear, C3 stuff, including radio-compatible command hummvees, some bare bones troop transport capabilities, a couple of wreckers, and some engineer equipment...bulldozers, ACEs -- whatever they typically need for disaster support.

This is a national reserve that moves around as brigades deploy. States have months to plan the shortage and coordinate receipt.

Doesn't seem like a huge deal to me, if the NGB had the congressional support it deserves.

Splash, out


If the Iraqi Army walked on water... 
...the headline in the New York Times would read "Iraqis Can't Swim."


BAGHDAD, Jan. 29 —Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.

They said American ground troops — and not just air support as reported Sunday — were mobilized to help the Iraqi soldiers, who appeared to have dangerously underestimated the strength of the militia, which calls itself the Soldiers of Heaven and had amassed hundreds of heavily armed fighters.

Buried well below the fold:

Government estimates of the number of fighters killed ranged from 120 to 400.

An Iraqi military official said at least 25 security force members were killed in the battle.


We need more missteps like these.

“This group had more capabilities than the government,” said Abdul Hussein Abtan, the deputy governor of Najaf Province, at a news conference.

If true, then didn't the Iraqis do the right thing in calling for American support?

Wouldn't NOT calling for American support in this instance, including ground forces - as in, every available man who can carry a rifle - constitute negligence?

Only a month ago, in an elaborate handover ceremony, the American command transferred security authority over Najaf to the Iraqis. The Americans said at the time that they would remain available to assist the Iraqis in the event of a crisis.

And here we have the scintillating military analysis of the Times: Wouldn't a pitched battle with an extremely well-armed force of at least a battalion size (and possibly closer to a brigade) on ground of their own choosing constitute a crisis warranting American assistance?

If it doesn't, just what the hell does the Times have in mind??

The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle. But the Iraqi security forces’ miscalculations about the group’s strength and intentions raised troubling questions about their ability to recognize and deal with a threat.

Does it? Oh, pray tell, General!

The Iraqis initially sent a battalion from their Eighth Army Division, along with police forces, but they were quickly overwhelmed, according to an Iraqi commander at the scene. The battalion began to retreat but was soon surrounded and pinned down, and had to call in American air support to keep the enemy from overrunning its position.

The Iraqis probably sent a battalion to engage because a battalion is what they had available. A battalion NOW is better than a brigade too late, as we know, because we clearly spoiled the moojie attack on Ashura, tearing their guts out in the process.

But look! Iraqi battalions now have the skill set - whether native or embedded, to call in CAS. And the US was responsive enough to get them fixed wing CAS on short notice. Hell, the Air Force is constantly telling American commanders they need a couple days' notice for a fixed-wing CAS mission (the more exact doctrinal time frame won't be discussed here. (FedEx is faster). Something happened right.

A commander in the Scorpion Brigade said the combined American and Iraqi forces killed 470 people. He also said some of the dead Soldiers of Heaven fighters were found bound together at the ankles and suggested that the chains had probably been used to keep people from fleeing and to keep them moving as one unified group.

Wow. There's a motivated unit there. Lexington Minutemen, all of them.

The battle also brought into focus the reality that some of the power struggles in Iraq are among Shiites, not just between Shiites and Sunnis.

Ooooh. There's a scoop.

I'm mocking the reporter here, Marc Santora, because I wish reporters would quit with the obnoxious "raises questions" construction. Just report, and let the reader raise questions. Because the RQ construction invariably tells me more about the reporter himself than it does about the story.

The second page, however, is excellent reporting, and worth a read.

Splash, out


Monday, January 29, 2007

I am SO going to Hell!!!! 
A suicide bomber killed three people today at an Israeli bakery.

My first thought was "I wonder if he took a number and waited until it was called?"

I suspect it was a deranged militant follower of Dr. Atkins.

Splash, out


Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Andy Sullivan Douchebaggery 
Here's Andy defending his characterization of the Sunni guys with the mortars in their car as "civilians."

have no idea what Mickey Kaus believes about the Iraq war (never have, actually). It is not a subject he is much concerned with. He is much more interested in weightier topics such as yours truly. His latest swipe is about this post, where I show a British Channel 4 video showing Shiite soldiers beating Sunnis on a joint patrol with U.S. forces. I describe the victims as "civilians," which gives Mickey an opening to ignore the point I was making and accuse me of inaccuracy. Hey, it gets him up in the afternoon. I referred to them as civilians because they are residents of the neighborhood, not in uniform, and unarmed, as compared with the soliders in Iraqi army uniform. Mickey protests because the video clearly shows the beaten men had mortars in their car. So they're not civilians, right? That depends on who is or is not a civilian in a messy civil war like the one we're now policing. The insurgents are civilians in as much as they are not in the Iraqi army, not in uniform, and often residents of a neighborhood. But they are not civilians in as much as they are engaged in a violent insurgency - actively or passively.

Andy, go take your meds, man.

I'll make it easy for you: The people with the mortar in their car cannot be usefully described as "civilians," in the sense you mean it to mean - i.e., noncombatants.

You screwed up (because you're not a very smart man anymore), and you got called on it. The first rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging.

The people with the mortar in their car are not civilians, they are combatants. What's more, since they do not wear a uniform and do not carry arms openly, they are not even entitled to the de minimis protections of the Geneva Conventions. While there are laws prohibiting foreign troops, such as ours, from committing summary executions (and the United States has, foolishly in my view, extended Geneva combatant status to moojies fighting in Iraq) Iraq's own security forces are perfectly within Iraq's rights to have shot them on the spot.

Those moojies ought to be grateful that those bruises aren't bulletholes.

Our allies in the Iraqi Army and police forces, as you can see in the next video down, cannot expect the same courtesy.

Andy, what can I say?

I'm chagrined.

More Civilians At Play 
Hey, Andrew, you morally-blinkered, sheltered wuss...

I got your "civilians" right here!!

Message to Andrew Sullivan 
The other day, Andrew Sullivan referred to a couple of moojies who got caught with a bag full of mortars (I assumed they mean "mortar shells") in their car as "civilians."

I just sent the following email to Mr. Sullivan:

Mr. Sullivan,

Thought you might be interested in another story about those pesky, crazy civilians and the handiwork wrought by their mortars:

I've been on the receiving end of dozens of those civilian mortar attacks. They didn't seem all that civilian to me at the time.

Glad we have people like you around to set me straight, though.


Jason Van Steenwyk
Ar Ramadi, 03-04

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Is this surprising to anybody?

Customers of the internet auction site eBay are being defrauded by unscrupulous dealers who secretly bid up the price of items on sale to boost profits.

An investigation by The Sunday Times has indicated that the practice of artificially driving up prices — known as shill bidding — is widespread across the site.

Last week one of the UK’s biggest eBay sellers admitted in a taped conversation with an undercover reporter that he was prepared to use business associates to bid on his goods for him.

Our inquiries found evidence that a number of businesses — ranging from overseas property agencies to car dealerships — have placed bids on their own items using fake identities.

The cases raise questions about whether eBay, the world’s biggest auction site, is doing enough to protect consumers.

Shill bidding is slimy - in any context. And in this case, it's illegal. But there's no way to prevent it, and so customers should be discounting the possibility. The fix is easy: Don't bid any more than the product is worth to you.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sorry for the light posting this week. It's been kinda busy with work madness, plus I spent a couple of nights this week playing music and otherwise enjoying life, and cooking. This week's Manic Cooking Project of the Week (TM) was homemade chili. It worked. :)

What internet time I have had I've been spending over at Prosper.com. Yes, it's my new addiction.

What's Prosper? Well, it's sort of an E-Bay, but for borrowers. Need to consolidate credit cards? Bust up your payday loan cycle of death? Need capital for a startup business? Ongoing business? Down payment on real estate? Remodeling your house? Whatever the need, you can borrow up to 25k on Prosper.com. You name your interest rate and amount, post your story, some credit data from Experian (Credit rating from AA to E, then High Risk (HR) and NC (No Credit History), number of current delinquencies, number of court actions, number of accounts open, number of delinquencies from past few years), you tell your story, sell your story, and Prosper publishes your listing.

From there, the community of suckers lenders will bid on the loan, if the interest rate is high enough and the perception of risk is low enough. If enough people bid (minimum bid is 50 dollars or more), then the loan is funded. Prosper does some verification, lends the money, and the loan is sold in pieces to the bidders, who get their money back as the borrower pays off the three year loan, which can be at interest rates as high as 29% for high-risk borrowers.

If not enough people bid, then the loan doesn't get funded, and the borrower has to give up or come back asking for a smaller loan amount and/or offer a higher interest rate.

It's the coolest thing in the world. It's addicting. It's a great little microcosm of capitalism. The lenders are the stupidest people I've ever seen!!!


Default rates are already, like TWICE what Experian data leads them to believe. Most veteran lenders are underwater. New lenders who haven't learned a thing, but are chasing the illusion of 29% returns are bidding interest rates way down. Lots of borrowers aren't even making it through 3 months without paying late. Lenders are sinking hours into researching trying to beat the odds, but don't seem to be paying themselves a salary to compensate for the time spent in research. There's so many idiots bidding to lend that they're bidding loans down to less than their default rates for a given class of borrowers. There is a shortage of good borrowers.

And the entertainment value is endless.

No, I don't think I'll be lending there any time soon. I do like the idea of putting some money in an asset class that has, like, NOTHING to do with the S&P 500 or the stock market. And I don't have enough cash to buy a worthwhile interest in, say, a pub (even though I know they make money, because everyone I know who owns a pub is trying to find reliable help so they can open another one).

But diversifying into a long-term loser doesn't make much sense to me.

I might be a group leader, though - not for profit, but to open up other relationships.

Interesting find - but the money supply there is grossly exceeding quality demand, and the data is bad. Well, it's not bad, it's just that the time period is too short.

I hope it works out. I LOVE knowing that Prosper lenders can stick it to the Payday Loan bastards by stripping customers out from under them with consolidation loans - even at 29%.

Splash, out


Monday, January 22, 2007

Reuters is once again referring to Al Qaeda's cockroaches in Baghdad as "Rebels." 

Like they're led by Luke Skywalker or something.

(Image from STFU)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Is simulating the rape of a 12-year old on film a crime? 
Althouse tackles the question.

I haven't taken a position one way or another - I suppose I'll have to withhold judgement until seeing the film. I'm generally tolerant of graphic portrayals of controversial or disturbing subjects on film. And I positively reviewed Gemma, by Meg Tilly, which is an extremely graphic account of the serial rape of a 12 year old girl.

I don't think I could bear rereading it - it sent me into a depressive tailspin for two weeks. But I also think we shouldn't sugarcoat art, too. It does no good to portray rape as less than what it is, or murder, or other forms of violence.

At any rate, watching the movie wouldn't settle the question for me.

But an adult male actor didn't have a problem with dry-humping a 12-year-old in a body suit on camera?

Well, given my general assessment of Hollywood values, that's sad, but not surprising. I can't imagine being willing to do that, and would have told the director to find another way to tell that story.

Perhaps Rob Lowe was unavailable?

Splash, out


When the trumpet blows an uncertain sound 
then who will answer the call?

The cost of this strategy by Republicans will leave a vacuum for military members. Who among us in uniform will trust ANY politician with her life? Who among our professional VOLUNTEER military class will willingly allow his children to serve knowing that neither party can be trusted to lead? The threat to American society and freedom is that no one will serve because the political class cannot be trusted with our lives and the lives of our children...

...If the Republicans continue on this suicidal path, members of the armed forces will leave their services in droves and simply not vote.

Uhhhh...what he said.

Via Glen.

This Holocaust Will Be Different 
Benny Morris has a vision of Armageddon in the Jerusalem Post.

The second holocaust will be quite different. One bright morning, in five or 10 years, perhaps during a regional crisis, perhaps out of the blue, a day or a year or five years after Iran’s acquisition of the Bomb, the mullahs in Qom will convene in secret session, under a portrait of the steely-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini, and give President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by then in his second or third term, the go-ahead.

My prediction is somewhat different: Iran will not try to use missiles to destroy Israel. The mullahs are not stupid. Instead, they will employ nonstate actors to do their dirty work for them.

Perhaps not the dangerous and militantly Sunni Al Qaeda, but a few trusted agents in Hezbollah - and maybe their own Quds-force fighters, to smuggle in nuclear weapons in vessels offshore or in shipping containers or in trucks laden with fruit or gasoline.

Perhaps they will be able to frame the whole thing on someone else.

This will be Iran's methodology. Alas, the goal will be the same - the eradication of Israel as we know it, and the extermination of Israeli Jews.

They will keep enough in hand, perhaps in a secret location outside of Iran, to deter or blackmail the United States from mounting a massive retaliatory strike of its own, lest another bomb go off in Long Beach or Boston or New York.

Splash, out


Saturday, January 20, 2007

The latest from PETA 
Talk greasy to me, baby.

Yes, she gets naked. And promises that she'll get "nakeder" then ever before.

I'd hit it with a flank steak.

Via Ace.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Almost half of Democrats either want us to fail or aren't sure. 
But they support the troops.

Via Ace

Damn center-wing neutralists!!! 

"Fat, drunk and neutral is no way to go through life, son."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

By the way... 
From the same Time article linked to below:

A visit to the Khadamiyah Women's Prison in the northern part of Baghdad immediately produces several tales of abduction and abandonment. A stunning 18-year-old nicknamed Amna, her black hair pulled back in a ponytail, says she was taken from an orphanage by an armed gang just after the U.S. invasion and sent to brothels in Samarra, al-Qaim on the border with Syria, and Mosul in the north before she was taken back to Baghdad, drugged with pills, dressed in a suicide belt and sent to bomb a cleric's office in Khadamiyah, where she turned herself in to the police. A judge gave her a seven-year jail sentence "for her sake" to protect her from the gang, according to the prison director.

Believe it, assholes.

Sex trafficking was unknown under Saddam? 
I just noticed this, in Time Magazine, and it pissed me off:

A Western official in Baghdad who monitors the status of women in Iraq thinks that figure may be inflated but admits that sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent under Saddam, has become a serious issue.

Of course, dumbass!!! Why bother with sex trafficking when under Saddam you could commit rape with impunity?

I had translators who grew up in Ramadi tell me about Uday's depradations: He would ride into a wedding party with his entourage, his goons would stick weapons in men's faces, and he would take whatever girls he fancied with him. The girls were usually not seen again. Apparently it happened regularly.

And it wasn't just Uday.

Awatif Nour al-Hamadani, 21, was betrayed by her own husband, who - under extreme torture - named his wife and several colleagues as gun-runners.

Awatif was pregnant but was set upon by a man called Major Amer who beat her with a metal chair and then sexually abused her. At her trial, Judge Mussalam al-Jabouri suggested that "a miniature gallows should be found for her baby daughter because she had sucked on her mother's hate-filled milk". Awatif was taken to be executed for the first time with two female colleagues and forced to watch the hanging of 150 men, 10 at a time; as their corpses were taken away, she recognised one of them as her husband. She was then returned to her cell. She was later executed in an electric chair.

Maysoon al-Assadi was an 18-year-old university student when she was arrested for membership of a banned Islamic organisation. During her interrogation, she was hanged by her hair and beaten on the soles of her feet and then sentenced to hang by Judge Awad Mohamed Amin al-Bandar. Her last wish - to say goodbye to her fiance - was granted, and the two married in the prison. But while saying goodbye to other prisoners, she made speeches condemning the leadership of the Iraqi regime, and the prison governor decided that she should be put to death slowly. She was strapped into the jail's electric chair and took two hours to die.

Salwa al-Bahrani, the mother of a small boy, had been caught distributing weapons to Islamic fighters in 1980.

She was allegedly administered poisoned yoghurt during interrogation by a doctor, Fahid al-Dannouk, who experimented in poisons that could be used against Iranian troops. Salwa died at home 45 days after being forced to eat the yoghurt.

Remember, too, that it was Saddam who had people on the payroll as violators of women's honor," and that it was Saddam who granted amnesty to hundreds of rapists, releasing them from prison just prior to the war.

But no. Trafficking in women was almost unheard of under Saddam.

Tell it to the Kurds, asshats.

One woman, speaking from behind a curtain to preserve her anonymity, told of how her family was captured by Iraqi forces in April 1988. Her grandmother died in the prison camp, while she witnessed terrible atrocities.

A warder called Jaafar Al Hillawi used to grope prisoners' breasts, and one day caught a beautiful young woman from Koi Sanjaq, she said. "He caught her and told her, 'You are mine.' She spat in his face," she told the court. "He tore her clothes and raped her in front of her parents. Then he shot her. She remained alive for several minutes and then died."

Another witness, again shielded by a curtain, said that prisoners had eventually attacked the rapist after another of his victims committed suicide, but that they were savagely beaten in punishment.

But, yes. Sex trafficking was almost unknown under Saddam.

Wanna buy a bridge?

Splash, out


Why we fight 
Because this is our enemy.

Alas, this is nothing new.

We were finding suicide bomber's feet chained to gas pedals and hands handcuffed to steering wheels in 2003-2004.

When I mention this to people, they seem disbelieving.


Never will I leave a fallen comrade 

Four Royal Marines flew into a battle zone clinging to the outside of helicopter gunships in a bid to rescue a fallen comrade, the Ministry of Defence has revealed.

Unwilling to leave behind one of their number following a retreat, the commandos strapped themselves to the small stabiliser wings of two Apache helicopters and returned into the midst of a fierce gunfight with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Details of the unprecedented rescue attempt were revealed as the MoD pieced together the final hours of fallen hero L/Cpl Matthew Ford.

L/Cpl Ford, 30, of 45 Commando Royal Marines, took part in a 200-soldier assault on a Taliban fort in Helmand province.

Following an intense gun and mortar battle, the commandos were forced back. When they realised L/Cpl Ford was missing, four soldiers volunteered to return.

Three Apaches were available for the mission, but the 200mph helicopters have no room inside for passengers. The soldiers made the snap decision to travel on the outside of two of the armour-plated aircraft, with a third helicopter providing covering fire.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Michelle Malkin is back 
...from her embed trip to Iraq with Eason Jordon and Bryan Preston.

I came to Iraq a darkening pessimist about the war, due in large part to my doubts about the compatability of Islam and Western-style democracy, but also as a result of the steady, sensational diet of “grim milestone” and “daily IED count” media coverage that aids the insurgency.

I left Iraq with unexpected hope and resolve.

Jamil Hussein update 
Confederate Yankee has some questions for AP spokesflack Linda Wagner.

The wrong lesson 
Donald Stoker writes that America has learned the wrong lesson from Viet Nam.

Vietnam taught many Americans the wrong lesson: that determined guerrilla fighters are invincible. But history shows that insurgents rarely win, and Iraq should be no different.

The conclusion:

That’s welcome news, because one thing is certain: time is running out. Combating an insurgency typically requires 8 to 11 years. But the administration has done such a poor job of managing U.S. public opinion, to say nothing of the war itself, that it has exhausted many of its reservoirs of support. One tragedy of the Iraq war may be that the administration’s new strategy came too late to avert a rare, decisive insurgent victory.

I think it's more of a case of American support evaporating 8 years too early.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Trying to know the unknowable ... 
UPDATE: Link to article added.

Jay Rosen, when pressed, has argued that both the doves have facts, and the hawks are operating from a different set of facts, and that is why the two tribes cannot communicate.

That cannot be true. No one is entitled to their own facts, and facts is facts. Some of them are harder to pin down than others, but even if you limit yourself to discussing facts that are beyond serious dispute (The US has found hundreds of WMDs buried in the desert, Iraq was developing missiles that violated the terms of the cease fire and UNSC resolutions, and that the 9/11 commissioners found that there were, in fact, connections with Al Qaeda) those facts falsify large swathes of the dovish argument.)

These facts, while apparently difficult for some of the more intellectually dishonest of us to accept, are very easy to know, and to grasp.

But if the confusion over Captain Jamil Hussein has demonstrated anything, it is that it is exceedingly difficult to "know" any one thing in Iraq. The reporter's task - the honest reporter's task - and I have to believe that there are a few left out there, is incredibly difficult.

Don't miss this column, explaining why:

January 15, 2007 -- JUST outside Um al-Qasar, a port in south east Iraq, a crowd had gathered around a British armored car with a crew of four. An argument seemed to be heating up through an interpreter.

The interpreter told the Brits that the crowd was angry and wanted U.K. forces out of Iraq. But then a Kuwaiti representative of Amnesty International, accompanied by a journalist friend, approached - and found the crowd to be concerned about something quite different.

The real dispute? The day before, a British armored vehicle had an accident with a local taxi; now the cab's owner, backed by a few friends, was asking the Brits to speed up compensating him. Did these Iraqis want the Brits to leave, as the interpreter pretended? No, they shouted, a thousand times no!

So why did the interpreter inject that idea into the dialogue? Shaken, he tried a number of evasions: Well, had the Brits not been in Iraq, there wouldn't have been an accident in the first place. And, in any case, he knows that most Iraqis don't want foreign troops . . .

Splash, out


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Behold: The reality-based community. 
If you liked Post Election Selection Trauma, you will love this bit of sweet, juicy, crazy goodness from the Washington Post:

The members of this confessional "club" are not your usual victims. This isn't a group for alcoholics, drug addicts or survivors of childhood abuse; the people connecting on the call are self-described victims of mind control -- people who believe they have been targeted by a secret government program that tracks them around the clock, using technology to probe and control their minds.

The callers frequently refer to themselves as TIs, which is short for Targeted Individuals, and talk about V2K -- the official military abbreviation stands for "voice to skull" and denotes weapons that beam voices or sounds into the head. In their esoteric lexicon, "gang stalking" refers to the belief that they are being followed and harassed: by neighbors, strangers or colleagues who are agents for the government.

Jaysus H. Freakin' Christ, the guy who wrote Fight Club didn't know how right he was! It gets better:

In 2005, a group of MIT students conducted a formal study using aluminum foil and radio signals. Their surprising finding: Tinfoil hats may actually amplify radio frequency signals. Of course, the tech students meant the study as a joke.

But during the Saturday conference call, the subject of aluminum foil is deadly serious. The MIT study had prompted renewed debate; while a few TIs realized it was a joke at their expense, some saw the findings as an explanation for why tinfoil didn't seem to stop the voices. Others vouched for the material.

"Tinfoil helps tremendously," reports one conference call participant, who describes wrapping it around her body underneath her clothing.

"Where do you put the tinfoil?" a man asks.

"Anywhere, everywhere," she replies. "I even put it in a hat."

The finest moist, sweet, creamy juicy chocolate-covered and tin foil-wrapped goodness since Ding Dongs went to plastic and Sully came off his meds.

Until recently, people who believe the government is beaming voices into their heads would have added social isolation to their catalogue of woes. But now, many have discovered hundreds, possibly thousands, of others just like them all over the world. Web sites dedicated to electronic harassment and gang stalking have popped up in India, China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Russia and elsewhere. Victims have begun to host support meetings in major cities, including Washington. Favorite topics at the meetings include lessons on how to build shields (the proverbial tinfoil hats), media and PR training, and possible legal strategies for outlawing mind control.


There's got to be some way to market to these people.

Seriously, this is a real pathology here - it reminds me of anorexic girls getting together to form starvation clubs and share tips on how to look hot slowly kill themselves.

I am seriously hoping against hope that this reporter is the new Stephen Glass. This looks like something Glass would invent.

Alas, I fear this reporter is accurate.

Hey, it could happen.

Splash, out


Setting the Record Straight ... 
An anonymous commenter (I assume someone from the MN National Guard's family support group or a Guardsman) writes in:

Just to set the record straight, the MN National Guard could not release the information until 9pm. The email was sent out soon after that. In a situation such as that, where they did not have a lot of lead time to contact families, the National Guard did what it could to contact them. The problem wasn't with the National Guard or the FRG, but rather someone at the Pentagon leaking the information to the media. The leak may or may not have been intentional; either way it happened and now we have to deal with it. Yes, it is frustrating that many families still found out through the news, but that was not the fault of the National Guard or FRG.

Duly noted. My intent was not to castigate the FRG. The job is practically impossible to do. My intent was simply to point out how incredibily difficult it is to get the word out to thousands of families on time - especially when we're relying on a loose, informal network of volunteers, that recieves almost no formal support from the DoD.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

So far, the ONLY unit to have a tour extended... 
is a National Guard unit.

Introducing Operation Norwegian Freedom - a blog I've never noticed before, written by the wife of a deployed citizen soldier from the great State of Minnesota, who calls herself Household Six.

Although the media has reported that families found out about the extension by hearing it on the news, I found out another way. The leader of my FRG (Family Readiness Group) sent out an email with the message from the Adjutant General. I didn't check my email until almost 11:00 that night and fortunately had not watched the news. When I talked to Marc the next morning and told him the news, he said they had found out through family members and the media. At this point in time they don't have official orders yet for the extension and it may be a while before they do. While the extension will happen, I don't yet know how it will affect Marc's tour and neither does he. I am angry that the media chose to assume that families and soldiers already knew about the extension. The media's goal is to sell news and they've done that very well over the last few days at the expense of the families and their soldiers. I will not rely on the media as a source of information. I will wait for more reliable news from the Minnesota National Guard, my FRG or my husband.

Yes, families deserve better than a mass email from a family support coordinator. I wonder how tight-knit the phone tree is, and how regularly it's exercised. The family support people need to be really on the ball in order to get inside the news media decision cycle.

That's not a story the news media can sit on for long, though, until the very last spouse in the brigade is notified.

Splash, out


Have you seen Army Times' new Web look? 
I like it!

The logic of the offensive, II 
Despite the rocket attack flareup last fall, the Israelis have been effective at putting the kibosh on unconventional terror methods.

The damage done to West Bank terrorist groups has been so extensive that most of the remaining cells spend a disproportionate amount of their time avoiding the attention of the Israeli police. Because of this, more terrorists from Gaza are showing up, as well as aid from Hizbollah in Lebanon. The Gaza terrorists can leave via Egypt, and enter the West Bank via Jordan. Hizbollah operatives also use the Jordan route. Border security with Jordan is tight, but not perfect. Attempts to smuggle weapons and cash are often foiled, but a lot of this stuff does get through.

However, the basic Israeli tactic, of detecting, and going after, the terrorist cells that recruit, train, equip and guide (into Israel) the suicide bombers, has proved highly effective. It takes quite a bit of organization and skill to get a suicide bomber into Israel, and if you keep the terrorist groups in disarray, and constantly watching their backs, fewer bombs go off inside Israel.

Go after them, and kill them, and you save lives on your side.

It's not a matter of troop strength, so much as it is a matter of quiet nurturing of intelligence sources, patience, ruthlessness, and speed in execution.

Splash, out


Got Silly String?? 
Sometimes products find niches in uses wholly unintended by their developers - for instance, believe it or not, Arm and Hammer baking soda was made for baking, not for sitting in your refrigerator soaking up odors.

Well, there's a new unexpected product use out there - this time saving lives in Iraq.

Silly String was introduced in the late 1960's, and there are a variety of similar products out. Essentially, it's a polymer-based chemical dissolved in a CFC-based solvent and packed into an aerosol can. When squirted, the chemicals react with air to form a foamy strand as much as 10 or 12 feet long. Militarily, Silly String is useful for troops doing room-to-room searches, who have to contend with booby traps (IEDs, or Improvised Explosive Devices). Before entering a room, they can squirt the stuff inside. If it lands on the floor, the room is likely to be clear of trip wires. But if the stuff hangs in the air, it may have snagged on a nearly invisible wire (sure, the troops might be able to spot the wire if they peer carefully into the room, but this might not be possible in the presence of armed folks with hostile intent).

But there's a catch:

It isn't in the Department of Defense (DoD) standard supply basket (which is perhaps just as well, or a can might run several hundred bucks, because of all the special rules applying to military acquisition, and the tendency to customize things for "military use.") Some unit commanders have reportedly been using their discretionary funds to secure supplies. But for the most part, the troops have been relying on Mom to supply them, writing home to send some. This isn't easy, as Silly String comes in aerosol cans, which cannot legally be shipped by the Postal Service or commercial mailing services.

The "queenpin" of Silly String Supply To The Troops is Marcelle Shriver, who has a son in Iraq. She arranges shipments of Silly String to her son's unit and other units. Donations can be sent to her, c/o St. Luke Church, 55 N. Warwick Rd., Stratford, NJ 08084.

For great justice.


Update: If they outlaw silly string, only outlaws will have silly string.

Engaged in battle at Press Think 
Once again.

At issue: Well, Rosens' opening post is - well - rather incoherent. Not sure what to make of it, other than an exercise in nonlinear reasoning and conclusions enencumbered by any factual foundation.

What's happening here, once again, is I'm taking issue with a series of the underlying postulates underlying their position, and trying to bring the debate back to the facts on the ground - both as we understood them in 2003 and as we know know them to be today.

The reaction is juvenile as usual, but entertaining if you like that sort of thing.

Why engage there?

Because much of Rosen's audience consists of opinion makers - journos themselves - and only a small minority post there.

Splash, out


Friday, January 12, 2007

Girl, 16, to wed her 47-year-old abductor. 
I love it when a plan comes together.

Simply breathtaking.

Rice appeared before the Senate in defense of President Bush's tactical change in Iraq, and quickly encountered Boxer.

"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price," Boxer said. "My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young."

Then, to Rice: "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."


Simply breathtaking.

We scarcely know where to begin.

The junior senator from California ap parently believes that an accom plished, seasoned diplomat, a renowned scholar and an adviser to two presidents like Condoleezza Rice is not fully qualified to make policy at the highest levels of the American government because she is a single, childless woman.

It's hard to imagine the firestorm that similar comments would have ignited, coming from a Republican to a Democrat, or from a man to a woman, in the United States Senate. (Surely the Associated Press would have put the observation a bit higher than the 18th paragraph of a routine dispatch from Washington.)

But put that aside.

The vapidity - the sheer mindlessness - of Sen. Boxer's assertion makes it clear that the next two years are going to be a time of bitterness and rancor, marked by pettiness of spirit and political self-indulgence of a sort not seen in America for a very long time...

... But even to suggest that Condoleezza Rice is not fit to serve her country because she is childless is beyond bizarre.

It is perverse.

Sen. Boxer needs to apologize.

And she needs to do it today.

I'm not holding my breath.

Army Abandons Reserve Component Tour Limitations 

Here come the Guard Brigades!!!

The decision to mobilize the Guard infantry battalions in 2003 and leave the brigade elements at home is going to screw support troops and headquarters troops families - some of whom are still overseas as we speak, or have returned within the last six months down here in Florida.

Still, it was easy to see this coming.

The "stabilization" contracts the Guard had to offer to some troops departing active duty - preventing deployment for 1-2 years after joining the Guard - will result in some extra Inactive Guard and IRR mobilizations. They won't apply to key personnel (platoon sergeant or so and up).

David Chu, the Pentagon's chief of personnel, said in an interview that he thinks Guard and Reserve members will be cheered by the decision to limit future mobilizations to 12 months. The fact that some with previous Iraq experience will end up spending more than 24 months on active duty is "no big deal," Chu said, because it has been "implicitly understood" by most that they eventually would go beyond 24 months.


Still, it's not like I have a better idea. I work with a woman whose husband is in the 10th Mountain division, whose husband is on his third tour already.

If we're going to win this thing, it's going to take another shot of Reserve Component Goodness.

Time to hit the PT field.

Splash, out


Thursday, January 11, 2007

No Greater Love 
Corporal Jason Dunham's family was formally presented with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony today.

This time, the New York Times covers it.

(I had to dig. Soccer player David Beckham got better billing on the NY Times website.)

Splash, out


"Is there anything they can't do?" 
A new session device designed to assist "harmonically impaired" accompanists.

I GOTS to get me one of those!!!

Just wrote this to Margaret Carlson 
...The former Time columnist, now writing for Bloomberg.

Dear Ms. Carlson,

Your column today contains a common but important factual error.

You wrote in today's column
that " General Eric Shinseki once got the heave-ho for saying we did need more troops."

Where are you getting your information from? That is quite simply not true. You are perpetuating a common myth that is being spread by some with an axe to grind, and being further spread by weaker and more uninformed reporters. A correction is in order.

Consider the timeline:

Shinseki's term as Chief of Staff ended in June 2003, right on schedule. But Rumsfeld announced that his term would not be extended in March 2002. It was not until February 2003, almost a year later, that Shinseki advised Congress that the occupation of Iraq would require hundreds of thousands of troops.

Furthermore, Shinseki was not given the heave-ho at all. That is simply a lie. Shinseki served out every day of his term - a full four years, which is the usual standard. In fact, no Chief of Staff of the Army has served longer than four years since World War Two. Since when do people who have been "given the heave ho" serve out every day of their terms?

It is true that Rumsfeld named Shinseki's successor earlier than was customary, but that is quite a different thing.

Will you correct the record?

Private First Class Ross McGinniss 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gunner in 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah (Northeast Baghdad), Iraq on the afternoon of 4 December 2006.

On December 4th, 2006, 1st Platoon, PFC Ross McGinnis' platoon was conducting a combat patrol to deny the enemy freedom of movement in Adhamiyah and reduce the high-level of sectarian violence in the form of kidnappings, weapons smuggling, and murders. 1st Platoon's combat patrol moved deliberately along a major route north towards the Abu Hanifa mosque, passing an IED hole from a recent detonation on a Military Police patrol that very morning.

The combat patrol made a left turn onto a side street southwest of the Abu Hanifa Mosque. There were two-story buildings and parked vehicles on either side of the road. PFC McGinnis was manning the M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun on the Platoon Sergeant's M1151 Up-armored HMMWV. His primary responsibility was to protect the rear of the combat patrol from enemy attacks.

Moments after PFC McGinnis' vehicle made the turn traveling southwest a fragmentation grenade was thrown at his HMMWV by an unidentified insurgent from an adjacent rooftop. He immediately yelled "grenade" on the vehicle's intercom system to alert the four other members of his crew. PFC McGinnis made an attempt to personally deflect the grenade, but was unable to prevent it from falling through the gunner's hatch. His Platoon Sergeant, the truck commander, was unaware that the grenade physically entered the vehicle and shouted "where?" to PFC McGinnis. When an average man would have leapt out of the gunner's cupola to safety, PFC McGinnis decided to stay with his crew. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life he announced "the grenade is in the truck" and threw his back over the grenade to pin it between his body and the truck's radio mount.

When the grenade detonated, PFC McGinnis absorbed all lethal fragments and the concussion with his own body killing him instantly. His early warning allowed all four members of his crew to position their bodies in a protective posture to prepare for the grenade's blast. As a result of his quick reflexes and heroic measures, no other members of the vehicle crew were seriously wounded in the attack.

His gallant action and total disregard for his personal well-being directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death.

PFC McGinness has been nominated for the Medal of Honor.

How could the Democrats be so tone deaf? 
Of all the people they could have had deliver the Democratic response, why did it have to be Senator Durbin?


Seeing Durbin up there, as the voice of the Democratic Party at a time like this, felt like a slap in the face.

But slandering troops is part and parcel of what they do. It's what gets you to the top in today's Democratic Party.

Laying the Chickenhawk Argument to Rest 
Ace of Spades shows us how to turn that dumbass argument right around.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Michael Yon on the Enemy 
These are the people to whom the Democrats wish to abandon the Iraqis:

The enemy follows different rules. Any attempt to explain the fate of two of our soldiers who were captured by terrorists in 2006 south of Baghdad would defy decency. It should suffice as coda that the enemy rigged their tortured and mutilated bodies with explosives. CSM Mellinger said that Iraqi forces had just caught one of the perpetrators and handed him over to our people. I asked if we were going to turn him back over to the Iraqis. The CSM said firmly, “We don’t give back people who kill Coalition Forces.”

Then he told me a story about a courageous and respected Iraqi commander who’d accompanied his patrols all over Iraq for nearly a year. When the dead body of this same Iraqi commander was brought into the morgue, doctors found gruesome signs of torture. His legs were beaten by planks of wood. A drill had been used to bore holes into all of his ribs, his elbows, his knees, and into his head. Doctors estimated the man endured this torture for days. Apparently when the fun was over, or they’d extracted what they needed, or the terrorists were worried about being discovered, or they had another victim waiting for their attentions, they shot him. CSM Mellinger, with just a momentary flash of anger in his eyes, said the Iraqi forces know who did this, and it’s only a matter of time. But time bends when every day in Iraq brings with it a hundred new stories of murder, torture and bodies scattered by bombs.

Yon also makes a backhanded smack on our media:

This does not look like a big or intense war to people at home. It doesn’t look like that because we have so few troops actually in combat. But for those who are truly fighting, this is a brutal death match where every mistake can get them killed, or make worldwide headlines. Yet when the enemy drills out eyes or tortures people with acid, it never resonates.

Go ahead and google torture images in Iraq. Slice the search terminology any way you like. You will come up with a hundred images of Abu Ghraib, or abuses by Iraqi police. But even though we see news reports of bodies showing signs of torture turning up in Baghdad on a daily basis, you will not see those images leaked, unless you go to not safe for work shock photo sites that deliberately seek them out.

But their purpose is to titillate, not to draw the sadistic, beastial nature of our enemies into stark relief.

The result is a seriously morally deranged perception of the nature of our enemy and the consequences that would follow if we abandon Iraq to these wolves.

Splash, out


I SAIIIIIIID, We Got C-130 Freakin' Helicopters, Part III!!!!! 
The Associated Press's Mohamed Olad Hassan jumps the shark:

MOGADISHU, Somalia — U.S. helicopter gunships launched new attacks today against suspected al Qaeda members, a Somali official said, a day after American forces launched airstrikes in the first offensive in the African country since 18 U.S. troops were killed there in 1993.

The latest attacks killed at least 27 civilians in the town of Afmadow in southern Somalia, lawmaker Abdiqadir Daqane told the Associated Press.

Yep. And sure enough, the Muslim AP writer won't miss a chance to report that a 4-year old boy was killed in the strike.

I'm sure they made sure of it. If a 4 year old wasn't killed in the strike, they'd have to invent one.

Now, the Somalis are saying that monday's airstrike was successful in killing Fazul Abdullah Mohammed - one of the targets of the strike, who is believed responsible for the 1998 African Embassy bombings.

Somehow, that doesn't warrant a mention in Hasan's story. But the 4-year-old boy does.

Keep an eye on this guy's byline.

Update: Al Maviva, you magnificent bastard, they read your book!!! (See comments)

Splash, out


Can you believe your neigbor killed Buckwheat? 
Oh, yeah. That's all he talked about.

Red v. Blue 


Hat tip:

Lee Distad

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What's in a name? 
Flopping Aces is firing on the AP over some differences in how Jamil Hussein's name is accounted for.

My advice: Don't make too much of the name issue. I know first hand the difficulty of accounting for Arabic names.

I said as much when the story first broke.

It's possible for the AP to be right about this one.

Headline: New Wave of Troops Headed to Iraq 
So says My Way News Service.

We're gonna give these bastards Freedom of Choice if it's the last thing we do.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I SAAAAAAAIIIIID, We Got C-130 Freakin' Helicopters!!!!!! (Part Deux) 
Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Air Force has struck at Al Qaeda militants in Somalia with

[drum roll, please...]

...An AC-130 Helicopter Gunship!!!!

The Washington Post lets that howler over their wires.

NBC avoids the helicopter howler, but restates CBS's original error on rates of fire. Which tells you that these outlets aren't doublechecking shit, but plagiarizing each other's bonehead plays (without attribution).

Toronto corrects the Reuters blunder.

The news agencies are covering their tracks as we speak, so if someone out there knows how to do screencaps I'd be much obliged.

Flashback: The morons at the Guardian still have an account of the
AC-130 helicopter gunship attack on the wedding party, more than two years later.

Flashback: "I SAAAAAAAIIIID, we got C-130 Freakin' Helicopters!!!!!"

Splash, out


Annihilate them. 
That's what I'm talkin' about, yo.

Once they started moving, the al Qaeda operatives became easier to track, and the U.S. military started preparing for an air strike, using unmanned aerial drones to keep them under surveillance and moving the aircraft carrier Eisenhower out of the Persian Gulf toward Somalia. But when the order was given, the mission was assigned to the AC-130 gunship operated by the U.S. Special Operations command.

If the attack got the operatives it was aimed at, reports Martin, it would deal a major blow to al Qaeda in East Africa.

Meanwhile, as Al Qaeda's rats flee to the southern tip of the country, the U.S. Navy is moving to block any attempt at escape or reinforcement by sea, in a sort of reenactment of the Seige of Yorktown.

History doesn't repeat itself. But it rhymes.

It would have been nice to have seen more than one AC-130 in on the act. If Al Qaeda is really on the move, he can be annihilated there, with the application of enough firepower, in much the same way armies of the ancient world were annihilated to the last man when their infantry lost their nerve, broke ranks, and fled on foot, only to be hunted down by pursuing cavalry.

Do not let the ignorant try to confuse a victory with a massacre. The destruction of a fleeing enemy is what victory on the battlefield looks like. Pursue them, pursue them, pursue them until the horses are ready to drop and the men can no longer stay awake in the saddle..then commit your reserve and pursue some more.

Put every man to the sword, unless he sooner surrenders. The Ethiopians cannot support a lengthy occupation, and we cannot stomach it. So be ruthless, ruthless, ruthless* in pursuing the advantage now, while the enemy is exposed.

I would have loved to have seen much more firepower committed to the fight, if suitable targets were available.

*Ruthless. I forgot one "ruthless."

Now, it wouldn't be "Countercolumn unless I slammed on the media some. So here goes: Look at the "fast fact" below the art: "The AC-130 gunship is capable of firing thousands of rounds per second."

Wrong. The GAU-12U Equalizer Gatling gun has a max ROF of 4,200 RPM (3,600 RPM sustained) That's per minute. Not per second.

Splash, out


Angels Among Us 
Don't miss this look at our medics and corspmen in Iraq from National Geographic.

Another dumb investment idea 
This one is dumber than most, in a lot of ways:

But [Russ]Kinnel [Of Morningstar] criticized the expense ratios of the Free Enterprise and Blue funds, which are essentially run like index funds. Free Enterprise Action and the Blue Small-Cap fund charge annual expenses of 1.75 percent; Blue Large-Cap charges 1.5 percent. The average for a socially screened index fund is 0.85 percent, according to Morningstar.

High expenses can be a drag on total returns. The Free Enterprise Action fund lagged the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index by about 5 percentage points in 2006. "I think it would be much smarter to invest in a good fund and donate some portion of the proceeds to whatever cause you want to help," Kinnel said.

The first concern of any investor in these funds may well be their political agendas, which are splashed all over the companies' Web sites (www.bluefund.com and www.freeenterpriseactionfund.com).
The Blue site says the funds will invest only in companies that both "act blue" and "give blue." The Free Enterprise Action fund site says the managers want to wage shareholder proxy campaigns to "promote the American system of free enterprise." The Blue funds operate much the way traditional socially screened funds do, eliminating companies they regard as having poor environmental records, for example.

But what really sets the Blue funds apart is their exclusion of companies that make less than 51 percent of their political donations to Democrats. Although the funds do not have any official connections to the Democratic Party, the funds' managers, Daniel de Faro Adamson and Joseph J. Andrew (a former Democratic national chairman) plan to meet with finance chiefs of Democratic political campaigns and union pension funds to ask them to become Blue fund investors.

Can you say ERISA, ladies and germs? Can you say "fiduciary duty?"

I smell a lawsuit waiting to happen - against the Blue Fund, anyway. Shareholders in the Free Enterprise Action Fund are just going to have to pay the stupid tax, generated by the cumulative effect of an outrageous expense ratio over the years, compared to the 10 to 50 basis points available in other large cap index funds.

This kind of marketing over substance crap is an embarrassment to the mutual fund industry.

Splash, out


(Via Bill Hobbs, who has a few things to say, via The Great One)

In the spirit of the Consumer Electronics Show... 
I bring you the best. Consumer. Electronics. Link. Ever.

Trust me.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Full Stop. 
The Royal Navy is halting promotions for the next five years.

A serving Lieutenant Commander, equivalent to an Army major, who is currently paid £45,000 a year, described the freeze as "an absolute outrage". "People who have worked extremely hard and given their careers to the Navy, have bled for the Navy are now being rewarded like this, he said. "It is also a real kick in the teeth for those commanders who will now probably never have the chance to captain a ship."

Another officer based in Portsmouth, with 27 years service, including action in the Falklands war, was told by his commander that he should start looking for another job.

"I'm in the position of five years until retirement and after having given 27 years service it's now 'so long and thanks for all the fish'," he said.

How did things get so bad?

Lewis Page, a former Navy officer who wrote Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs, an acclaimed book about MoD overspending, said cuts were necessary for the 1,100 Lt Commanders in the Navy because a "staggering" 17 of the rank were based ashore for every one at sea.

I understand logistics. But this still seems excessive to me. If I were a naval officer and I could only go to sea one year out of seventeen, I'd be wondering why I signed on to the Navy, too.

Maybe they can convert some of their Navy loggies to Army, have them replace Army types in some jobs at higher level headquarters, and let the Army people go focus on killing moojies.

Damn Krauts... 
According to Stern Magazine, America's people don't give a whit about the rest of humanity.

I'm sure they'll be repaying the Marshall Plan, with interest, any minute now.

And I do believe the rest of Europe and the United States itself have some reparations coming, no?

Let's just see how much the Germans care about people beyond their borders.

After the events of 1933-1945 - events which required the complicity, if not active participation, of the whole of the German people, these krauts have a lot of nerve pointing a finger at the people who saved them from the Nazis, then saved (most of) them from the communists - at significant cost to us in terms of blood as well as treasure.

Note that Stern and its apologists cannot hide behind the facade that they are not anti-American - only anti-Bush. That is obviously a lie and it's always been a lie. This article slandered the entire American people.

Splash, out


Empiricism, revisited 
The New Criterion hits the issue:

It may be naïveté on the part of these men to imagine that political, military, or diplomatic speech is or ought to be an exercise in sharing the thoughts and feelings of the speaker rather than a means of coalition-building and preservation, but it cannot be merely naïveté. There is in the assumption a kind of willed ignorance of the basic realities of political life which is, ironically, the same thing they are alleging against President Bush. I mention this not to do as they do and suggest that mental illness is what lies behind their intemperate musings, but rather to point out that the language of the media has more in common with the language of diplomacy and politics than the media would care to admit. Truth—or, if you prefer, “reality”—is not the object of either, though it is essential in both cases to keep up the pretense, however transparent, that it is. The more the media bang on about “reality,” the more apparent it is that what they mean is the version of reality which it is their rhetorical project to establish in the public mind as the only legitimate one.

If you were interested in the Press Think thread on empiricism, the Press, and the Bush Administration, this is a must read. If that thread made your eyes glaze over, you might want to skip it.

The Nation on Active Duty "Dissidents" 
Don't have time to comment, but check it out here.

Therein resides the power of the Appeal for Redress. Its signers don't marginalize themselves as lawbreakers, resisters or deserters. Potential signers have been assured they are sending a communication to Congress protected under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act and will not be subject to reprisal. The result has been electrifying. In the two months since it surfaced, almost three times as many people have signed it as are members of the two-year-old Iraq Veterans Against the War. Almost three-quarters of the signers are active duty (the rest are reserves), and include several dozen officers, of whom a handful are colonels.

Interviews with more than two dozen signers, both in Iraq and on domestic US military bases from Fort Stewart in the east to Hawaii's Hickam Air Force Base, reveal a movement that includes low-level grunts and high-ranking officers, as well as a rich diversity of racial, economic and educational backgrounds. The signers offered a variety of motivations--ideological, practical, strategic and moral--but all agreed the war was no longer worth fighting and that the troops should be brought home. As the debate on Iraq sharpens in the wake of the Baker-Hamilton report and as a new Democratic Congress is seated, the collective voice of active-duty opponents of the war is likely to add considerable clout to the antiwar movement.

Yep. They can't win the argument on the merits, so they need some poster children to trot out before the cameras. They've always been whores for that. So much so that when they can't find enough poster children, they invent them.

That said, I don't have a problem with these servicemen and women exercizing their First Amendment rights as they're doing. They're fine in my book.

Now, Ehren Watada on the other hand ...

Editors, how many vets are in your newsroom? 
Hugh Hewitt takes up the baton:

Sgt. Boggs also relayed how he easily distinguishes between Shia and Sunni populations and towns, understands the basic history of Islam, understands the basic political divides of the various parties contending for power today, knows the foreign infiltration's intensity and lethality, and, crucially, know the military and its routines.

And as for Iraq's roads, climate, seasons etc, few are better schooled. Two years in a country --one in the south and one in the north-- teach you a lot.

I asked Sgt. Boggs what the MSM could do to improve their coverage of the war?

"Hire me and a bunch of my friends to be their reporters," he replied. (A paraphrase, but very close.)

And it struck me immediately that he is right. Undeniably and completely right. There is no reason for MSM coverage of the war to be so deficient or lame. There are thousands of returned veterans, from Colonel Bay on down to Sgt. Boggs, who know the country, know the military, know the enemy, and who know how to cover the war from the front and in depth. It is much easier to make them into producers, cameramen, on-air reporters and print journalists than it is journalists into war journalists comfortable with the military and wise about the enemy.

Some of the milbloggers are already accomplished journalists like Col. Bay. Others are a long way towards being sound professionals like Sgt. Boggs.

My question is whether there is even one MSMer currently reporting from Iraq who was an Iraq or Afghan War veteran? Even one?

And why aren't there a hundred such veterans-turned-reporters?

And have the journalism schools bothered to track down the accomplished and returned warriors and ask them to lecture the journalists-in-the-making on how to cover the war?

One guest suggested MSM will not hire veterans because such a skills set will not produce the sorts of stories that advance the MSM's agenda, which is an anti-Administration, anti-war agenda. Perhaps he is correct.

But it is undeniably true that there are ways to cover the war well --to "flood the (war) zone"-- and to avoid the trap that that General Mattis describes the MSM as having fallen into.

There does not, however, seem to be the inclination. For in depth reporting on Iraq --and the war's many other fronts-- we will have to continue to rely on new media.

General Mattis optimistic 
Read the interview here

What we are seeing now is a significant shift in the tribes. They are coming over. How does this manifest itself? How is it more than just my words? The Sunni sheiks are having their young guys join the Iraqi police. The reason is they will go to their local areas after they go to training academies in various countries outside of Iraq and they return, when they come back, they go back to their home areas.

So you've got the tribes shifting over, their kids joining the police. You've got the Iraqi army and the Iraqi security forces today, they are probably running around, about 52 percent of the casualties in our medical treatment facilities are Iraqi security forces. Which says something about the nature of the fight and the nature of the Iraqi troops who are now represented among the casualties. It's one way to indicate whether or not they are really in the fight or not.

So these are significant shifts right now. And the transition teams and the Marines who are over there, fighting in a very lethal area where the efforts have been unrelenting, have basically achieved successes that we would not have anticipated this early in this process.

Our strategy approach to this remains pretty much the same. This is the U.S. approach: Get the security situation under control, the violence down. Get the Iraqi security forces trained and picking up more of the load. And third, assist and facilitate the Iraqi government becoming capable of meeting needs of the people. These things happen fast.

But if there's one point I would make strongly, it is this, Mark: that violence and progress can and do coexist. You see the blasts, you see the IEDs, you see the cameras on them out there. And that is a legitimate point.

And on the media:

I was talking to a lieutenant in Haditha, he told me that because they are now all connected nowadays in their FOBs, he could read stories about Haditha. He said, 'I guarantee you there has not been a reporter in Haditha in my last two and a half months here.'

We're seeing, I think, an unwitting passing of the enemy's message, uncritical, unwitting passing of the enemy's message because the enemy has successfully denied the Western media access to the battlefields.

I'm not sure what Lloyds of London is charging now, I think it's over $5,000 a month insurance for a reporter or photographer to go in. But the murder, the kidnapping, the intimidation means that, in many cases, we have media folks who are relying on stringers who are Iraqi.

Now you can have any kind of (complaint) about the American media or Western media you want, but there is at least a nod, an effort toward objectivity. The stringers who are being brought in, who are bringing in these stories, are not bringing that same degree of objectivity.

So on the one hand, our enemy is denying our media access to the battlefield, where anything perhaps that I say as a general is subject to any number of interpretations, challenges, questions, but the enemy's story basically gets there without that because our media is unable to challenge them. It's unwitting, but at the same time, it can promote the enemy's agenda, simply because there is an apparent attempt at objectivity.

Reporter: Would you like to see more Western media there then?

Mattis: Oh, we would be happy to have more Western media out there. We've had Al-Jazeera out with our troops.

Eschatology and Warfare 
Hershel Smith compares the demise of the Nazi werewolves with the moojies in Iraq.

When is a surge not a surge? 
From the Boston Herald:

The balance of deployment and recovery is already tenuous. That's why President Bush agreed in December to enlarge the Army and Marine Corps. If the American Enterprise Institute's recommendations become reality, the balance will tip, readiness will spiral downward, and the cost and time to reset units will spiral upward. In exchange for one last rush at the objective, this proposal risks our ability to fight the long war necessary for success in the region. The report suffers from the same casual dismissal of undesirable outcomes that characterized post-combat, reconstruction planning in Iraq.

Notably, the report comes from Washington-based military observers, not from the generals in Iraq who are charged with strategy. Those commanders have overlapped units to increase troops before; during Iraqi elections in 2005 and this past fall in Baghdad. They also have 15 US brigades in Iraq, only five of which are in Baghdad. If the commanders thought that three or four extra US brigades in Baghdad would turn the tide, they could have arranged that. The fact is that the generals in charge of Iraq, George Casey and John Abizaid, have said they do not want more US troops. They want more Iraqi troops, and they know the Army and Marines cannot sustain 30,000 additional troops in Iraq.

Read the whole thing.

Splash, out


(Thanks to a reader for the tip.)

Wow. Must be quite a record. 
Judging from the customer reviews anyway.

H/T: Belfast flute player Harry Bradley

Daily P0rn 
Come on. You know you want it.

Indulge. I won't tell.

(Yes, it's safe for work)

Krauthammer on Saddam's Execution 
From Krauthammer:

In late 2005, I wrote about the incompetence of the Hussein trial and how it was an opportunity missed. Instead of exposing, elucidating and irrefutably making the case for the crimes of the accused -- as was done at Nuremberg and the Eichmann trial -- the Iraqi government lost control and inadvertently turned it into a stage for Hussein. The trial managed to repair the image of the man the world had last seen as a bedraggled nobody pulled cowering from a filthy hole. Now coiffed and cleaned, he acted the imperious president of Iraq, drowning out the testimony of his victims in coverage seen around the world.

Yes, Saddam did drown out the testimony of his victims in coverage around the world.

But that was not the fault of the Iraqis. Saddam could have been ball-gagged and duct-taped in court - either figuratively or literally - and people would have bitched about that, too.

Saddam's victims were every bit as eloquent and moving as Saddam.

Saddam drowned out the testimony of his victims because our media allowed it.

Splash, out


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Oh no! 
Not again!!!

From StrategyPage:

The Associated Press has again put out an Iraq story detailing events that did not happen. This time, it involves an airstrike that, " killed a family of four during a firefight." However, according to the press desk of Multi-National Forces-Iraq, no air strike happened during that firefight, and MNF-I also reported that which six insurgents were killed by American troops in Baghdad on January 1. This is the second time in roughly six weeks that the AP has been caught fabricating events.

Friday, January 05, 2007

What's your score? 
I got a 30. Basically, I'm Jack Kemp it says.

No, I don't put a lot of stock in it. It's dumb because it doesn't distinguish between classical, fiscal conservatism and social conservatism. There's a better quiz out there that does - and I've even posted my results on it somewhere on this blog in 2004 or so - but I'm too lazy to find it now.


It's what's for dinner.

If Captain Hussein does, in fact exist ... 
... and it now appears that he probably does, do I owe the AP and Kathleen Carroll an apology?

Well, let's see what I was writing back in November:

Let me bring the argument to a finer point: I call for Carroll's resignation not because of the reporting on this story. I call for it because of her instinct for excusal. AP could produce the source tomorrow, and the Iraqi Ministry of Information could have been mistaken all along about Captain Hussein's identity, and the point will still stand, because Carroll isn't trying to argue that he exists - beyond restating the assertion. Carroll's ultimate position is that the AP's word is beyond question.

Her lack of curiousity concerning the identity of the stringer and the existence of the source is unbecoming a reporter. Her logic is sloppy, in that she continues to rely on the legitimacy of the source when there is no reason to believe his validity other than that this source has fooled other reporters in the past.

No, Ms. Carroll - that's not relevant. What is relevant is if your organization can demonstrate that he is who he says he is.

Ms. Carroll also glosses over completely the fact that the AP was forced to abandon the "four mosques burned" story when it turned out that only one mosque was burned.

So much for a culture of verification in the newsroom. Yet Ms. Carroll is "satisfied with the reporting."

Ms. Carroll asserts that CENTCOM attacked AP's reporting because Hussein's name "is not on their list of authorized spokespeople."

That is a lie.

CENTCOM attacked AP's reporting not because Hussein is not an authorized source, but because Hussein doesn't exist - at least not as a police officer or MOI employee at all. The AP thinks he does. The AP has not given us any reason to believe them.

If it were just this story, that would be one thing. But viewing Carroll's intellectual dishonesty and obtuseness here and combining it with her demonstrated inability to even comprehend the extent to which the media was being had by Green Helmet Guy and his goons leads me to conclude that even if Hussein were produced tomorrow, Carroll cannot be trusted to fulfill her obligation to pursue the truth and maintain a culture of verification and transparancy in the AP newsroom.

I never based my argument on Hussein being fake. I based my argument on a pattern of behavior on the part of Kathleen Carroll that extends back to Green Helmet Guy, Reutersgate, and The terrorist photographer.

I was always prepared to accept the possibility that there was some name confusion with Captain Hussein, though after over a month, I didn't think he was going to turn up.

Now Ms. Carroll is blaming bloggers because a source her own news organization named on the record is a public figure.

Well, that's what happens when you elect yourself to become a public figure by talking to reporters 61 times. Something you say might come under scrutiny someday.

Says Carroll:

Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll on Friday criticized those who questioned the existence of an AP Iraq source, who was proven this week to be real, saying the scrutiny has now endangered the man's life.

"I never quite understood why people chose to disbelieve us about this particular man on this particular story," Carroll told E&P, referring to Jamil Hussein, an Iraq police captain. "AP runs hundreds of stories a day, and has run thousands of stories about things that have happened in Iraq."

Well, gee...I don't know why people chose to disbelieve you here. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that neither the US military nor the Iraqi Information ministry could confirm his existence, the fact that nothing in the story could be corroborated, and in fact the part about 4 mosques having been burnt down appears to have been demonstrated false, since the said mosques are still standing without any major damage at all, save for an entry way fire.

Maybe our skepticism has something to do with that. Just sayin.

How obtuse is this lady?

"We took the criticism seriously and we kept reporting on it and asking questions about the incident."

Kathleen, it's kind of hard to take criticism seriously when you hadn't read the criticism, by your own admission, and you "probably will not."

Not even bothering to read the criticism is a funny way of taking it seriously.

Jus' sayin.

Splash, out


There are surges, and then there are surges 
Victor Davis Hanson:

If the United States sends more troops into Iraq, especially Baghdad, then we must expand the parameters of operations — otherwise, thousands of fresh American soldiers will only end up ensuring the four things we seek to avoid in Iraq: more conventional targets for IEDs when more soldiers venture out of our compounds; more support troops behind fortified berms that enlarge the American infidel profile; more assurances to the Iraqis that foreign troops will secure their country for them; and more American prestige put into peril.

I never liked the idea of a surge. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We've allowed the moojies to psyche us out and take us into his race.

Only when it's clear that he will never outlast the US commitment to democracy in Iraq and the defeat of terrorism there will the terrorists give up the fight in Iraq.

A few tactical successes during a surge will not change that equation.

The correct course, in my view, was to settle in and 'go long.'

Of course, that is only reliable in a political vacuum. I will be very ashamed if, under the control of the Democratic party, having sold out the people of South Viet Nam already (and having sold out the Kurds and Shia rebellions under Bush I in 2001), our friends who are engulfed in desperate, life-and-death struggles against an evil and inhuman enemy were to ever be forced to conclude that they cannot count on the steadfastness and political courage of the United States of America.

That possibility is the most dangerous threat to national security we have.

Hanson's 6th point is particularly important:

6) Emphasize offense. Our new forces are not going to “patrol” or “stabilize” things by their “presence” or “reassurance,” but rather are being sent to Iraq for one purpose: to hunt down and kill or capture terrorists to ensure public confidence that the Americans and the new Iraqi government are going to win. And fence-sitters should make the necessary adjustments.

I agree. But as I have long argued - these kinds of operations must be driven by intelligence. And we have sufficient shock troops on hand to act on any solid tips we receive. The problem is not the lack of troops available so much as the lack of solid, reliable, actionable and timely intelligence.

No big surprise. You NEVER have enough good intelligence.

But the time-honored way to commanders to produce intelligence is to patrol. Go out and talk to people. Make connections.

Americans will not be as effective at this stage of operations as Iraqi troops, who speak the language and by and large have the sympathy of the populace. As North and others have written, we don't need more US troops, we need more well-trained Iraqi troops.

We're getting there, and the process takes time. It is slow and painful, and there are no shortcuts. But it is Iraqi troops who can win this thing, not Americans. I don't see the long-term payoff in committing to a surge we cannot sustain.

Splash, out


Splash, out


"King David Returns" 
That's the headline of Ralph Peters' account of the return of General David Petraeus to Iraq.

Peters is a great admirer of Petraeus' character and intellect. But he's not sure if Petraeus knows how to fight.

Don't worry, Ralph. Division, Brigade, Battalion, company, platoon, and squad leaders fight. As CTJF-7 chief, Petraeus has other roles.

Plus, Petraeus is an old Screaming Eagle. Don't count on him not being willing to deliver a vicious, murderous pummelling when he needs to.

If I do have the honor of another Iraq tour, I hope it's under his command.

Splash, out


Ollie North: More Troops = More Targets 
Unless the mission of any additional troops is very carefully defined, I'm inclined to agree with him. Oak Leaf has more here. I couldn't get the original link to work for some reason.

Also see The Moderate Voice.

Via Memeorandum

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