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Showing posts from August, 2009

Fisking the story that will not die: Eric Dondero and Saddam's amazing evidence-free WMDs

Eric Dondero of Libertarian Republican suggests that Leftwing Anti-War activists and media, along with Libertarians from the isolationist wing of the movement who also opposed the War, may have some explaining to do this morning. This assertion is followed by extensive quotations from the NYT piece on the current Iraqi government's discovery of 19 MIG fighters from Saddam's Air Force sent to Serbia for repairs during the late 1980s from damage taken during the Iran-Iraq War. Saddam was never able to ship them back. The article also covers Iraqi efforts to recover other military and financial assets of the old regime, including two naval vessels each in Egypt and Italy, as well as unspecified material in France and Russia. Everything discussed in the NYT piece covers traditional military hardware, most of which was dispersed before the First Gulf War in 1991. But, with the proper concatenation of clipped quotes and technically accurate but highly misleading statements

Jethro out by the cement pond, cyphering, as Uncle Jed used to say....

Now let's see, General McChrystal wants another 20,000 troops for Afghanistan, where we are going to stay either for several more years or several more decades, depending on whether you believe the US military or the British military. Ultimately, with contractors and support troops in the Indian Ocean and central Asia, this will give us well over 100,000 troops fighting or supporting the Afghan-Pakistan war. At the same time, the Obama administration is scaling back any thought that we will actually start withdrawing troops from Iraq prior to the 30 January 2010 election. We'll have about 130,000 troops there--so that means we will have (again considering support units based in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf) closer to 200,000 folks in that region. That's naught, naught, carry the naught, and--oh shit, Uncle Jed--we've got well over a quarter-million Americans fighting two different wars, neither of which is going very well at the moment. Oh--and b

Cash for Clunkers: the autopsy, and an answer for Dana

I said earlier that I would examine this paragraph by Dana Garrett in the light of the success of Cash for Clunkers: Great news all around, right? But, reader, if you hear a note of weeping in the national celebration of this program's success, it's those economic conservatives who, for entirely doctrinaire reasons, simply cannot admit they were wrong. A government stimulus program worked—in fact, it exceeded expectations—and that must be denied at all costs. You see, if they admit that a government stimulus program worked here, then they'll have to admit that such programs might work in other aspects of the economy as well. Too bad for them. Reality is rarely kind to dogmatists. A couple caveats first: 1) I would dispute Dana's assertion that economic conservatives reject the idea of government stimulus. The whole argument over the stimulus package found the GOPers arguing for stimulus in the form of tax cuts or payroll tax holidays, which everyone from Peter Or

And finally one that the Daily Kos gets right: how NOT to define a Libertarian

Sometimes what you're not is more defining that what you are. Diarist Darksyde does, in my opinion, an excellence job of explaining the top ten reasons you are not a Libertarian (but are a social/cultural/religious conservative) if you believe: Notice a propensity of newly minted Libertarians showing up lately? Perhaps it's just coincidence their ranks swelled in inverse proportion to George Bush's approval rating, ditto that so many are mouthing traditional conservative talking points. But what about the everyday gun toting townhall screamers and taxcutters and deficit hawks we see on cable news: are they really libertarian as so many claim, or just conservatives in glibertarian clothes? Here's a few warning signs. 10) If you think Ron Paul isn't conservative enough and Fox News is fair and balanced, you might not be a Libertarian. 9) If you believe you have an inalienable right to attend Presidential townhalls brandishing a loaded assault rifle, but that arre

Two coming attractions (or repulsions)

Today was light to non-existent blogging because my daughter had a soccer tournament in New Jersey, and frankly I'm exhausted. But as inspiration fails to strike for something new tonight, I am working on two new posts for the next few days. At Delaware Watch Dana is happy about the success of Cash for Clunkers , and believes it almost singlehandedly slays the beliefs of small-government ideologues: Great news all around, right? But, reader, if you hear a note of weeping in the national celebration of this program's success, it's those economic conservatives who, for entirely doctrinaire reasons, simply cannot admit they were wrong. A government stimulus program worked—in fact, it exceeded expectations—and that must be denied at all costs. You see, if they admit that a government stimulus program worked here, then they'll have to admit that such programs might work in other aspects of the economy as well. Too bad for them. Reality is rarely kind to dogmatists. This

Better late than never, I suppose: Daily Kos discovers that at least one JAG officer has been a hero at Gitmo

Today a Kos diaryist discovers the story of Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld , who resigned his commission rather than continue an unjust prosecution, and then says of the attacks Vandeveld has faced from the government since: Vandeveld, once lead prosecutor in seven military commissions cases, bravely resigned in protest and has endured a smear campaign courtesy of the Office of Military Commissions. It's not hard to understand why more whistleblowers aren't coming forward to bring to light inappropriate behavior in the flawed military commissions system. The problem? Our Kos diaryist has not been paying attention, or she would have known about other such unsung heroes as Rear Admiral Jane Dalton Colonel Morris Davis Major David J. R. Frakt Colonel Stephen Henley All of which were covered here in detail ... four months ago. Some of the people who missed this story are the same folks who keep asking me where Libertarians were when Dubya shredded the US Constituti

Completing Shirley's thought: Tort reform and the health insurance bill

To be clear: I have serious doubts about the efficacy of tort reform in driving down medical costs, and anyone who has examined Tom Baker's seminal research on medical malpractice will probably share them as well. That said, it is politics and not policy that drives what goes into the health insurance reform bill, as Shirley quotes Howard Dean as admitting: "The reason why tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth. Now, that’s the truth.” Actually, that's not the truth. It's not like the people drafting the bill wanted to take on tort reform but were somehow afraid of a confrontation with trial lawyers. Not hardly. Here's what progressive strategist George Lakoff has always maintained about tort reform and trial lawyers : Another multifaceted conservative strategic initiative is "tort reform,&q

New Journal decides to blame teachers for failures in student performance

The relevant segments from today's WNJ editorial on the Obama administration's Race to the Top [which, by the way, represents another virtual continuation of a Bush program with a few cosmetic differences]: You may recall that George W. Bush's critics absolutely despised the emphasis put on test scores by No Child Left Behind. They said it cheapened the educational process and forced teachers to spend all their time "teaching to the test." Of course, that was just for public consumption. What really worried them was that tests -- along with the process of aggregating the data according to race -- would reveal, for all to see, the lousy job that public schools are doing in educating minority students. Well, now, as some critics on the left have pointed out, the Race to the Top actually puts even more emphasis on those dreaded test scores than did No Child Left Behind. The Bush measure used test scores to evaluate schools; what Duncan has in mind is to use those

A thought for the day in the early 21st Century: Everybody is somebody else's Hitler...

.... except that nobody really is. I saw the same phenomenon with the passing of Reagan, Falwell, Novack, Helms, and now Kennedy. In the older days (say the 1970s and 1980s) the media controlled the narrative when somebody famous or larger-than-life passed. The new media, however, gives everybody a voice, and if you know how to do it just right, everybody has an audience as well. There is always somebody willing to point out that the deceased was scumbag in some portion of his or her life, despite anything else that individual might have accomplished. And there are all too many sanctimonious blowholes for whom that individual's greatest accomplishment represented the establishment of tyranny and injustice on Earth. Everybody is always Hitler. Dubya was Hitler. Obama is a brownshirt, or is it the teabaggers who are brownshirt Nazis? I forgot. In fact, I don't forget: I don't give a shit. Really. As a World War Two historian who specializes in the German-Soviet c

Afghanistan: winning hearts and minds by attacking one medical clinic at a time

Some days it's difficult work, and some days they just hand it to you. First, our new hearts-and-minds approach in Afghanistan : KABUL — International soldiers in Afghanistan to wipe out a Taliban insurgency were Thursday issued tips on how to minimise civilian casualties as the war intensifies and foreign troop deaths hit record numbers. General Stanley McChrystal, head of more than 100,000 US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, issued "counter-insurgency guidelines" aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Afghans increasingly impatient with the foreign military presence. "Protecting the people is the mission," McChrystal told troops. "The Afghan people will decide who wins this fight and we (the Afghan government and NATO troops) are in a struggle for their support." And here we are implementing this strategy : US and Afghan forces, backed by a US Apache helicopter attacked a medical clinic in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan yesterday after

The false equivalence of Sussex Correctional and Gitmo

Disclaimer: abuse of prisoners, either through commission or omission, is never acceptable. The Caesar Rodney Institute has apparently forced the General Assembly to examine these practices at Sussex Correctional. This is a good thing; the immediate politicization of this issue is not. I have some issues with the CRI report, but not the substance of the allegation: bad--even evil--shit is happening at SCI. However: it is equally true and disturbing that instead of acknowledging a mess made the State and ignored by all of its elected representatives [from both ruling parties] for years, it has already been bundled and politicized with the bizarre false equivalency regarding Gitmo and the interrogation of suspects there. I will use Cato's succinct presentation at Delmarva Dealings of the same case that has been made by a variety of folks on the right, because it adroitly captures the essence of this argument in a couple of paragraphs: It’s ironic that Democrats believe that

Kennedy

Godspeed Edward Kennedy to his eternal rest.

Our favorite bankers admit to harvesting organs from thousands of executed prisoners

Eighteen months ago a commenter criticized me for posting about China's practice of harvesting organs from prisoners--primarily death row inmates and some political prisoners like Falun Gong. Eventually, even in a repressive, authoritarian country [which our government no longer criticizes because it's not nice to say bad things about your largest creditor], the truth comes out [ BBC ]: China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners as the major source of organs for transplants. According to the China Daily newspaper, executed prisoners currently provide two-thirds of all transplant organs . Ouch. That's going to leave a mark.

One little detail that the Feds neglected to advertise in Cash for Clunkers--the rebates are taxable income

So the US government took your tax dollars to use for Cash for Clunkers, but you thought, "Hey, I'm getting a great deal here." Until you find out--usually well after you've made the deal-- that the Feds, and possibly your State, are going to count that Clunker rebate check as taxable income : The Cash For Clunkers program is adding to the activity at treasurers' offices all around South Dakota. First, people were asking for proof of ownership, so they could show they owned their vehicle for a full year, allowing them to cash it in. Now, they'll be returning to register their new vehicle. And when they do, new owners need to bring every bit of paperwork provided to them by their dealer. "That means they need their title, their damage disclosure, their bill of sale and the dealers have 30 days to get that to them," Minnehaha County Treasurer Pam Nelson said. But many of those cashing in on the clunkers program are surprised when they get to the

Comment Rescue: Impotent but annoying sleazeball threatens Delaware bloggers at their workplaces

In case you missed it, this is the comment that Macho Camacho left in the thread on CRI and Sussex Correctional. Pay particular attention to the segment in bold: Thanks for the love. I only wish you had shown such affection for donviti and the other scrotem totems. Focus your hatred. I have. I'm getting ready to mail a box of my own shit to one of the DLs at work! I already sent Jason a Christmas card that I rubbed all over my balls. I figure it's time for the next step. Happy New Year fatboy! ;o) I am assuming here [not safe: rationality is not Macho's strong suit]] that "DL" means Delawareliberals. I find it difficult at this point, absent other information and looking at the timing of Mucho Impotento's appearance, to conclude that he has any other agenda than to silence anyone who is critical of the Caesar Rodney Institute. His appearances coincide far too closely with the publication of material critical of CRI both here and elsewhere to suggest

Three gun-related posts with a common theme

One: 70-year-old man defends himself [h/t Alphecca ] According to Plantation [Florida] police, two masked gunmen came into the Subway at 1949 North Pine Road just after 11 p.m. There was a lone diner, Mr. Lovell, who was finishing his meal. After robbing the cashier, the two men attempted to shove Mr. Lovell into a bathroom and rob him as well. They got his money, but then Mr. Lovell pulled his handgun and opened fire. He shot one of the thieves in the head and chest and the other in the head. […] He is not expected to be charged authorities said. ‘’He was in fear for his life,'’ Detective Rettig said, “These criminals ought to realize that most men in their 70’s have military backgrounds and aren’t intimidated by idiots.” The full story makes it clear [as the excerpt does not] that the 70-year-old former Marine was carrying his weapon concealed. Two: Sacramento county Sheriff admits that more people need to carry concealed weapons [again, h/t Alphecca ] Sacramento County

The lost CIA interrogation technique: forcing suspects to crap themselves and sit in it for three days

Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent has a great piece of detective work in determining that the lost eleventh technique proposed by the CIA in 2002 was actually prolonged diapering . This means forcing interrogation suspects to wear diapers, and when they shit and piss themselves requiring them to sit in it for up to 72 hours. The tactic was apparently dropped because the CIA thought its inclusion might cause a delay in the Department of Justice review of its proposal. I guess it is good to know that the Ashcroft DOJ actually drew the line somewhere. The documentation Ackerman has collated also suggests that prolonged diapering had the support of then CIA Director George Tenet. I know, I know: we were only thinking about making them sit in their own poop, and they want to kill all of our children, and--besides--FDR nuked Hiroshima.

Fascinating, says Mr. Spock. There really is intelligent life somewhere in the mainstream media....

.... and it has finally [at least at WaPo ] managed to figure out that President Barack Obama continues to receive advice on foreign policy and economics from many of the same people who advised President George W. Bush, and continues to advance many of the former President's policies in minimally modified forms. And the piece ends with an observation being made here for several months: All this leaves Obama in an uncomfortable position, drawing fire from conservatives while making his liberal friends nervous. It is a clear example of the difference between campaigning for president and actually being president. Ah, Demopublicans, what would we do without them? Oh. Yeah. We'd enjoy the potential of real political change in America.

When the past is ... rewritten

Celebrating the past is one thing. Rewriting history is another. I first watched Kenneth Clark's then universally acclaimed BBC documentary Civilisation in high school in 1974. [It had been released in 1969.] In many ways, Civilisation was to documentary television in the 1970s-1980s as Ken Burns' Civil War was in the 1990s: groundbreaking television more important for how it did what it did than for how accurately it portrayed its topic . Both Kenneth Clark and Ken Burns came in for a lot of criticism [more, I feel, in both cases than was merited] on narrow technical academic grounds. Clark, for example, was pilloried in some circles for the universal-sounding name Civilisation in a series that clearly focused only on Western Europe. Few people realized that Clark didn't choose the name for the series and didn't actually like it. None of which is precisely germane to this post. What interests me is that the entire series is now reappearing on You-Tube,

Will US commander in Afghanistan call for 15,000-45,000 more troops to be on the ground before January?

That's what the MSM is reporting (though not too loudly): US media has reported that [General Stanley] McChrystal is considering three options, including a “high risk” strategy of adding just 15,000 troops to the 68,000 troops that would be on the ground by year’s end. A “medium risk” strategy would add 25,000 troops and a “low risk” option would be to send in 45,000. Meanwhile, in the face of growing popular disagreement with continuing to fight this war, Admiral Mullen trots out the old fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here argument: WASHINGTON: Al-Qaeda remains “very capable” of attacking the United States, the top US military officer said Sunday as he tried to boost waning US support for the conflict in Afghanistan. Nearly eight years after the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed some 3,000 people, Al-Qaeda is “still very capable, very focused on it,” chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “

Caesar Rodney Institute and the prison abuse story: Redwaterlilly asking questions that need to be asked

Dave Burris has issued an impulsive, insulting, and idiotic fatwah [and, yes, Dave, it qualifies for all three adjectives] about the most recent Caesar Rodney Institute exclusive that only serves to detract from any serious evaluation of CRI's work: Many of you wondered why the administration and the left went after and continue to go after CRI. It’s because they’re scared of things like this. Anyone who opposes the revelation of critical information by trying to shoot the messenger will be given no quarter. CRI has operated and will continue to operate as the highest example of Brandeis’ sunlight on the operation of government. Impressive. Personally, I could care less who writes CRI material, except when it is substandard work with illegitimate use of source material , or when the author's identity and resume are germane to the conscious bias of the paper , and I will continue to report when CRI material fails to live up to any reasonable think-tank standard. That sa

How do you say, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" in Spanish?

From Kids Prefer Cheese : In Peru, the government recently delivered a boatload of laptop computers to over 2,000 school kids in indigenous communities. There's just one big problem. In 50 of the 73 communities where the computers were sent, there is no electricity to keep them running (these are not self cranking types). As it turns out though, this is actually a big improvement over the last program like this. In that case, the computers were set up in English (!!!!) and the batteries were defective. Plus, not to worry because the government is pledging to soon deliver 2 solar panels to each of the communities that got laptops but don't have electricity! No word on how these panels would be utilized or how an electric grid for a village could run on two panels (maybe they are VERY BIG panels?).

Ooops: President Obama routinely provides figures for health insurance reform that are HALF of what the real numbers will be

Keith Hennessy explains . The logic and documentation are lengthy and wonkish; if you have doubts read the entire post yourself. What Hennessy concludes is that the President routinely says things like this: Now, what I’ve proposed is going to cost roughly $900 billion — $800 billion to $900 billion. That’s a lot of money. Keep in mind it’s over 10 years. So when you hear some of these figures thrown out there, this is not per year, this is over 10 years. So let’s assume it’s about $80 billion a year. It turns out that about two-thirds of that could be paid for by eliminating waste in the existing system. Problem? Best estimates and the loading sequence of the benefits are calculated to average $160 billion per year rather the $80 billion the President keeps claiming. Moreover: current predictions are that by 2019 the cost will have reached a annualized $202 billion . Here's what Hennessy concludes: So the President is off by at least a factor of two. This becomes

I Don't Myself Do Facebook or Twitter or MySpace etc etc....

.....but damn if this Twitter feed isn't hilarious. (Warning : contains profanity). shitmydadsays Name : Justin Bio : I'm 28. I live with my 73-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down shit that he says : "You need to flush the toilet more than once...No, YOU, YOU specifically need to. You know what, use a different toilet. This is my toilet." about 21 hours ago from web "Don't touch the bacon, it's not done yet. You let me handle the bacon, and i'll let you handle..what ever it is you do. I guess nothing." 11:15 AM Aug 22nd from web "Your brother brought his baby over this morning. He told me it could stand. It couldn't stand for shit. Just sat there. Big let down." 9:35 AM Aug 20th from web "Love this Mrs. Dash. The bitch can make spices... Jesus, Joni (my mom) it's a joke. I was making a joke! Mrs. Dash isn't even real dammit!" 9:28 AM Aug 19th from web "The dog is not bored

Admiral Mullen on Afghanistan: Taliban stronger, public support weaker, we'll keep throwing resources into Saigon--er, Kabul

This is actually remarkable in its brazen departure from common sense [or any sense of history and/or irony]: “The Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated,” the Admiral conceded. “Their tactics just in my recent visits out there and talking with our troops certainly indicated that.” He said Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal would not ask for additional specific numbers of troops in his assessment, but suggested that such a request was likely forthcoming in the next several weeks. Admiral Mullen also expressed “concern” over the flagging public support for the Afghan War , as several polls have shown that the American public is now firmly opposed to the continuation of the eight-year long war. He insisted, however, that the war would continue, because the president has ordered that it will continue. During his Meet the Press interview, host David Gregory asked whether or not the massive escalation of the war and pledges of enormous government aid for na

Inkling or Oddment?

Looks as though the News-Journal took notice of last week's tempest in a blogging teapot, specifically Delaware Liberal's melodramatic feud that unfolded, leading to the departure of founder Jason. The coverage is hardly kind or flattering, to say the least. This comes on the heels of another recent N-J article mentioning (or at least alluding to) Delaware Liberal rather dismissively , when NC County Executive Chris Coons questioned their credibility for floating unsubstantiated rumors that he would be leaving his current elected office for an Obama administration position. From this past Sunday's "Dialogue Delaware : Inklings and Oddments" : Liberal blog fight! Delaware's blogosphere resembles the state that many of its participants reside in -- small. So when a major upheaval happens in the world of one of its participants, the fellow bloggers tend to take notice. And the past few weeks have seen Delaware bloggers paying close attention to one another

Prosecute.

Let's hope this leads to justice being done with the reassertion of the rule of law, consistent with basic human rights, in our detention of prisoners in the "war on terror". It's about time. The Obama administration could make a serious break with its thus far continuation of Bush administration excesses, abuses and outrages. As the article notes, the pursuit of justice in this area has been "politically awkward" for the Obama administration. (Well, boo-hoo). Justice Dept. Report Advises Pursuing C.I.A. Abuse Cases By DAVID JOHNSTON August 24, 2009 WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a person officially briefed on the matter. The recommendation by the Office of Professional Responsibility