Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Obama Boomlet and Getting Serious

Lynn Sweet, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, thinks that Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), a Senate freshman, is going to seek the Democratic nomination for President.
Maybe, even probably, Obama's running but I think this is a media boomlet that's going nowhere serious. If only committed Democrats could vote in elections, Senator Obama'd be President, but the rest of us live in the real world. Senator Obama's a Vice-President, possibly.
The most intriguing Democratic possibility: maybe a shade too late to the dance, but their best shot, is from a State further to the east and south. He could win, win really big. . . Any guesses ? Maybe more on this subject later in the week.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Looking Towards 2008

Its official, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn), will not be running for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. It's not clear if Senator Frist was just the last to know he would not be getting Presidential cufflinks, or if he just held off the announcement.
None of the likely possibilities for the Republican nomination do much for me. It is always been pretty clear that Vice-President Cheney wasn't running. I like him very much, but why he was not encouraged to bow-out in 2004 or last year for "reasons of health" or to tour the wine country is somewhat mysterious to me. Yes, yes, that would be rotten treatment of a loyal public servant who has served us well, but this is politics, so what does that have to do with anything ?
Since we can't promote the Vice President, we (meaning conservatives and Republicans) aren't left with much. Mayor Giuliani is too liberal and has some baggage. Governor Romney has basically the right politics, but he is a Massachusetts Yankee too far from the party's base of power. Governor Jeb has the wrong last name. As for the Governator: he doesn't have the right birth certificate. That leaves, for the most part, a grab-bag of other dull, half-baked or untried possibilities.
Looks pretty obvious to me where we have to go. Can't say I like it at all. . .

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


El Jefe is back in his capital, to universal rejoicing by all except a few, very few mauvais sujets soon to be in the dungeons of the ever-vigilant Organs of State Security. (Three cheers for Organs of State Security !).

Seriously, the Jefe is still trying to catch up on a backlog of work, so posting is apt to be light today and possibly tomorrow. In the meantime, go over to Real Clear Politics and have a look at Tom Bevan’s post on his blog “The Stakes in Iraq.” Mr. Bevan discussed a recent lecture by Dr. Robert O'Neill, the former Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Professor O’Neill is the former Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford. In any case, the Professor’s lecture on “Prospects and Perspectives on International Security,” delivered at the Lowy Institute in Australia, had lots to say on Iraq. The lecture is nine pages, and worth printing out and reading in full (you can find a link on Mr. Bevan’s page and here), but here’s the money quote on Iraq:

Given the result of the recent US elections, we need to think hard about the consequences of possible defeat in Iraq. To elaborate on what I said earlier, that conflict can be won only by a much more effective coalition effort, requiring a major increase in US and allied troop numbers in Iraq, substantial improvements in training and operational methods, and a much stronger civil reconstruction effort. This is not likely to happen. The probable outcomes are either a sudden descent into chaos as coalition forces are withdrawn, or a protracted civil war, overlain with an insurgency against remaining coalition forces.

In the event of chaos, effective government in Iraq will cease for at least some years, during which terrorist groups will be able to concentrate, rebuild, flourish and reach out to other targets outside Iraq. Enemy forces will be heartened; recruiting will rise; funds and weapons will pour in; pressure will be exerted on regional governments friendly to the West; more young men and women who are willing to commit suicide to harm Western and Israeli interests will become available; and the oil price will rise to new heights.

Defeat in Iraq will be a serious blow to the public standing of the US and will invite other challenges to its authority. US citizens will have to be more careful of their own security both outside and inside their own country. US business abroad will feel more under threat of terrorist action.

(emphasis supplied)

Read both Professor O’Neill’s piece and Mr. Bevan’s comments – both are worth your attention. However much we might still hope that defeat in Iraq can be avoided, we can no longer avoid considering the possibility of an unfavorable outcome to the war. It is time to began planning for defeat: militarily, diplomatically psychologically, and politically. For Americans, the consequences are going to be quite ugly on many levels, and I will have more to say about that another time.
Meanwhile, to get a perspective on the consequences of defeat in Iraq: have a look at this post over at Adventures of Chester this morning, and a post Chester links to at Healing Iraq, here.

I am amazed to the degree which Americans both want to, and think that it is possible to return the national focus to primarily domestic concerns, such as the minimum wage, pollution, income inequality, fighting over judges and gay marriage. The recent congressional election results appears to me to have not only been a vote against the war (which has at the least been poorly managed), but expressive of a tremendous public desire to return to the 90’s and tell the outside world to go hang itself. Unfortunately, the real world is going to come knocking.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Terrorism and Liberty

This started out as a response to a comment from frequent poster “Louie Louie.” LL says he had a conversation with a security boss at an international construction company who told LL that “we aren’t going to win this.” By “this” LL says, the gentleman meant “terrorist activity around the world. What we see going on in Baghdad right now will be Dearbornistan, MI or NYC 50 years hence.” (some capitalization added by El Jefe).
Dearbornistan ?

In any case, I'm more "optimistic" than that, at least on the subject of stopping terrorism. I don't know if we're going to win in Iraq, but I have no doubt over our ability to prevail over violence and threats to public order here and abroad, and over all our enemies once we've decided we want to.

Look up Col. Ralph Peters article from the Sunday New York Post "The Eurabia Myth." (available on Real Clear Politics). The money quote:

Don't let Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress-up fool you: This is the continent that perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing, the happy-go-lucky slice of humanity that brought us such recent hits as the Holocaust and Srebrenica.

The historical patterns are clear: When Europeans feel sufficiently threatened - even when the threat's concocted nonsense - they don't just react, they over-react with stunning ferocity. One of their more-humane (and frequently employed) techniques has been ethnic cleansing.

And Europeans won't even need to re-write "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" with an Islamist theme - real Muslims zealots provide Europe's bigots with all the propaganda they need. Al Qaeda and its wannabe fans are the worst thing that could have happened to Europe's Muslims. Europe hasn't broken free of its historical addictions - we're going to see Europe's history reprised on meth.

As the Real Clear Politics headline put it, in the European context – before matters are done, Europe's Muslims will be lucky just to be deported. Col. Peters does not seem to think such a reaction is as likely here in the United States (although his article speaks more to current demographic trends in Europe). I’m not so sure. People both here and in Europe will demand physical security, and if they don't get it, they will find leaders who will give it to them, by whatever means are necessary.

Terrorism (operationally defined here as, non-state actor, or covert-state actor violence directed at civilians), is going to be stopped, one way or another. . .

Whether liberal institutions (I mean "liberal" in the political science sense), are going to survive in the short run, I beg leave to doubt. I don't think we can have a planet that's half liberal First World and Half Bomberstan/Upper Volta with nukes or oil money, along with world wide mobility thrown in -- that can function without unpleasant controls in place. How do you keep em down on the farm once they've seen Paris, or, as some would call it, Babylon ?

If we aren't going to subjugate the Bomberstans, and we can't convert them (as we've tried to do in Iraq), we're left with domestic controls over everything in the name of self protection; sealing these places off from the civilized world (and somehow still getting oil); or the glass pavement option. (BTW, as others have argued -- Wretchard at Belmont Club has a good post on it called the "Three Conjectures") -- WMD's are going to hurt the jihadists much worse than us.

Either way, whatever the silly liberals, progressives, or whatever they call themselves this week think, it's going to be a hard few decades for the spiritual heirs of Thomas Jefferson. However, stock in the ideas of Thomas Hobbes and Machiavelli is a buy.

Gator City

Back at work...and swimming in alligators, so probably no posting till late today.
Hope everybody's having a great time being back at work.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Central Texas

A quiet night in central Texas. El Jefe and family, plus assorted and sundry friends, relatives and hangers-on, are staying at the El Jefe country Schloss between Sealy and Columbus, Texas. I sat out by the pond this afternoon with my dull book (so SWMBO assures me), quietly reading, and soon forgot all about the French and the Germans and whatever was going on in the book and fell fast asleep. No noise but a cow mooing occasionally someplace to the south. Perfectly clear sky.
The leaves are coming down, and there is plenty of dry wood all over the place, a good deal of which we gathered up today. We made a big fire this evening, which has only just now died down a bit. Saw no snakes: presumably they are holed up wherever snakes go, no doubt plotting the spring offensive.
Internet is a recent innovation out here, and I'm not sure I like it so much. It enables me to make this post, and to keep up, but is that a good thing ? I rather liked being able to come out here for a few days and be out of the loop for a few days. I have this funny idea that most of us in this world would be much happier if we were not all wired so tightly into each other's business.
Terrible news out of Lebanon about the assassination of the Industry Minister, Pierre Gemayel. Not the first tragedy in that very influential family by any means: some may remember Mr. Gemayel's uncle, Bashir Gemayel, president-elect of Lebanon, assassinated (probably by Syrian intelligence) before he could take office in 1982.
This most recent murder also has Syrian military intelligence written all over it. The Syrians have just served notice on the Lebanese that they are coming back. It astonishes me (1) that this murder has received so little press here; and (2) that there are people seriously suggesting the government look to Iran and Syria for help finding solutions in Iraq. We're in the process of folding -- why would those governments possibly give us anything, other than laughter and a list of demands ?
Gee, I'm just making my point from a few paragraphs back. . .that I'd probably be happier without the Internet here, because getting diverted from my main point: how gorgeous it is away from the city. There must be a billion stars up there tonight, and it's dark enough to see all of them. I still remember a few constellations, and lots of them were visible tonight.
All kinds of places to go out in those stars -- I hope somebody makes it someday. I don't get the atheists: the universe is so huge. Who or what made all that ? How does anybody think there could not be a God ?
Yeah, I'm all over the map, aren't I ? Probably a sign it's time to end this post and wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Approach of Thanksgiving

Gloom around Ciudad El Jefe.

When the Boss of All Bosses, the Great and Dear Leader, the Big Cahuna, the Capo di Tutti Capi, the Duce, ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. (“Write that down, aide !” El Jefe bellows.)

SWMBO and the Heir, along with High Patronesses (cats MILO, FLINKY and SHINY) are off for the country today, but El Jefe has to stay in town for a couple of days, to work. For company the Great One is limited to only his loyal Goomba guards, the millions of fanatically loyal workers and peasants, his gorgeous mistresses, the mullahs and archbishops, the arch and minor bureaucrats, an insignificant Senator or hundred, sundry defense contractors, a bottle of Jameson’s, and its friend the Stoli bottle, and all the usual hangers-on. Not even the usual games in the Ciudad El Jefe colosseum (modestly named the El Jefe Arena) are of interest – El Jefe watching distractedly, laurel crown and toga askew, gulping down an occasional Cosmo while voting thumbs down to throw the gladiators to the lions.

Seriously, hope everybody is having or is going to have a good week. Posting will be somewhat anemic.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saving John Bolton

The Democratic majority in the Senate is possibly curtains for, among other things and people, John Bolton, America's ambassador to the UN. Ambassador Bolton, appointed to his position by virtue of a recess appointment last year, will lose his spot when this session of Congress ends. The chances that he will be confirmed by a Democratic Senate are less than nil.
Ambassador Bolton is unpopular with the Left, and other proponents of the transnational project, who seek the exaltation of virtually anything and everything that weakens national states in favor of pooled sovereignty, multilateral non-governmental organizations, and monstrosities such as the European Union. More particularly, they seek international constraints on the freedom of action of the United States.
Ambassador Bolton has the right enemies, and President Bush and the Republicans should pull out all the stops to save him. They have a brief window before the 109th Congress disappears for good, and if that does not work, there is perhaps the possibility of another recess appointment. . .assuming that can happen before the new Congress comes into session, which is open to doubt. If not, there is certainly the option of leaving the post vacant until the new Congress does recess.
Dymphna over at Gates of Vienna has thoughtfully provided a list of Senate telephone numbers. If you agree with El Jefe that the one-worlders need to be resisted, give your Senator's office a call on the matter of Ambassador Bolton, today.

Chinese Aircraft Carriers ?

Defense Industry Daily and several other sources report (cited and linked in DID) that China is in negotiation with the Russians to purchase some carrier-capable fighter aircraft. (Hat tip: Winds of Change). The aircraft in question appears to be the Sukhoi SU-33 "Flanker D."
Sino reported in late October that China is buying two for $100 million (delivery sometime in 2007-2008). This is apparenly just for openers: Sino Defense, citing Russian sources, says a purchase of up to 50 aircraft, the deal valued in the billions of dollars, is in the works. The DID article says the number of planes China wants to purchase is 48. Possibly the Sino Defense article counts the first two twice, and lumps them in with this apparently separate, later purchase.
These are probably enough aircraft in this purchase to allow the Chinese to fairly evaluate the aircraft; train a few pilots, and have enough planes to disassemble and assess their own ability to reverse-engineer them -- unless they make a deal with the Russians to make them under license.
What will the Flankers fly from ? Sino Defense helpfully reminds us that the Chinese Navy is supposedly refitting Varyag, a Soviet-era aircraft carrier, completed just as the Soviet regime fell, that China bought from Ukraine in poor condition back in 1999, which never actually entered service in the Soviet Navy. Varyag was a sister-ship of Admiral Kuznetsov, the only true aircraft carrier that the Soviets had -- Kuznetsov operated a regiment of 12 Flankers.
I can't imagine that Varyag would be more than a temporary stopgap, sort of an evaluation ship, much like the Flankers. Varyag has been sitting idle and unused for a long time, and rehabilitating her to operate efficiently with another navy is probably both expensive and rather difficult. If the Chinese really want to build aircraft carriers, and it makes sense that they would, they will be doing some shipbulding of their own. I think that's a very good bet.
And given the nature of things, there's going to be a reply. . .I'm sure this is all being watched carefully in Tokyo. The Japanese are going to build themselves some carriers, also.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Southern Lebanon Again...

The New York Times reports, very briefly today, on page A9 of the national edition, that "United Nations antiaircraft batteries" are taking "preparatory steps" to fire at Israeli aircraft that have "repeatedly violated" the cease-fire in Lebanon by flying overhead.

First, there's no such thing as a "United Nations antiaircraft battery." The only United Nations forces in Lebanon are part of UNIFIL the "United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon." UNIFIL has an authorized strength of 15,000, but as of 1 November was composed of about 9,500 troops. A useful and interesting map showing deployments as of September is here. The map shows the UNIFIL area divided into Indian and Ghanan battalion sectors, with a Chinese battalion located nearer the coast, and the headquarters elements, including a composite French battalion, in the south, on the coast, round the village of Naquora.
UNIFIL is under a French commander, Général de Division Alain Pellegrini. General Pellegrini has an interesting background -- regimental commander in the Troupes de Marine -- (formerly known as the Colonial Troops) best understood as a part of the French Army concerned with overseas operations, particularly in the former French colonies (such as Lebanon) and not so much like the US Marine Corps. General Pellegrini also has some time in French military intelligence. In 2000, he had the desk responsible for Lebanon and the Middle East. Just the man for a post like this one. The French have about 1,000 soldiers in Lebanon, and are committed to add up to another 1,000.
But back to our main point -- those anti-aircraft batteries. The Times doesn't say so, but clearly, we have to be talking about the French. Most of the units shown on the UNIFIL map appear to be too small to contain anti-aircraft batteries, the Chinese, Indians and French being the exceptions. . . The French contingent apparently includes antiaircraft batteries.
The Times squib says that the Israelis have flown over UN positions 14 times, 11 of them over positions manned by French troops. The French are clearly unhappy -- the Israelis apologized for one overflight of a French frigate offshore back on 3 October.
I feel a little sorry for the French troops. I dislike many of the policies of the French government profoundly, but I am not one of those who would be heard disparging the French military in any way. Among other things, they have some mighty fine intervention units, (the Marines, the paratroops, and the Foreign Legion). But they're on the verge of being in a bigger mess than they know what to do with. During the abortive Israeli intervention in Lebanon this year, Hezbollah forces apparently learned to hug the UNIFIL positions, using them as shields from Israeli artillery and aircraft. No doubt they're doing that again, creeping right back up to the border, and no doubt the Israelis are watching, and maybe indulging in a little low-grade yanking of UNIFIL chains.
UNIFIL, if it isn't going to stop Hezbollah from moving around, would do well to be quiet. The French have just enough troops in Lebanon to get the soldiers into some trouble, but not enough power around to really defend themselves. If the politicians push them beyond "preparations" or even push them to "serious preparations" to fire on Israeli aircraft. . .the Israelis are going to knock some Frenchmen into a cocked hat, in short order.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bomb Program ? Maybe Something MUCH More Sinister...

Listening to the Play Station mania on the way back from lunch I wondered why I hadn't been smart enough to take out a second mortgage to buy up Sony PlayStation 3's ® and sell them on E-Bay for obscene profits.
Then, it hit me. One of those OMG revelation kind of things, complete with flashes of light and angels who all look like Jessica Simpson in a hot outfit singing in the background. . .the Iranians and North Koreans are NOT really building nuclear weapons at all. It's all just a cover for something far, far more sinister: Mad Jad and the Dear Leader are REALLY building bootleg Sony PlayStation 3's ®. They'll retire their national debts, boost their foreign exchange and enslave our kids all at once.
Absolutely diabolical, as is El Jefe's plan to get all the search engines pointed his way by saying "Sony PlayStation 3"® (not to mention Jessica Simpson). Heh, heh. heh.

Some Calculating. . .

Mrs. Pelosi got her fingers burned first time out of the box: Steny Hoyer is the new Majority Whip, Murtha going down to defeat yesterday in the Democratic caucus 149-86.

Okay, lets do some calculating. On the plus side, this is a triumph for rationality: Representative Hoyer is much more centrist than John Murtha was likely to be. Consequently, passing up Murtha for Hoyer will get the “surrender now” crowd hopping mad – which is never a bad thing. Also, Pelosi has been dented a little: she made a very public bid to secure the Majority Whip slot for Murtha and it cratered.

On the other hand, it indicates the Democratic majority in the House is going to at least try to stay center-left for awhile, which is a definite mixed bag. Somewhat better in the short run for the country, certainly, but more problematic all round in the long term. Clinton’s last six years show the bleak possibilities for Republicans and conservatives if the New Democrats and the Blue Dog Democrats are careful, stay together, keep the far left "progressive" loonies in line, and thus refrain from ruining themselves.

Fortunately, President Bush can do well with this political problem by doing good for the country. Can you guess how ? More on that another time.

Milton Friedman, R.I.P.

Milton Friedman: genius, advocate of free markets, friend of liberty and the great modern expositor of the ideas of Adam Smith, died yesteday in San Francisco, at age 94.
In an age where the nostrums of socialism, statism and government control dominated the academy, Professor Friedman went against the grain, arguing persuasively from the University of Chicago, in a flood of books and articles, that people were better at defending and advancing their own economic interests than governments. Apostle of classical liberalism: Dr. Friedman had real political influence too, both in America and elsewhere: in the 1970's, a group of his students and colleagues, the "Chicago Boys" persuaded Chilean President Augusto Pinochet to privatize and deregulate the Chilean economy, to that country's lasting gain and benefit.
Although a first-class academic economist (who probably better understood money supply abd fiscal policy issues than anybody in his generation), Professor Friedman had a gift for explaining extraordinarily complex economic concepts in terms laymen could understand. His book Capitalism and Freedom -- worth your time to read -- sold at least half-a-million copies (unusual, to say the least, for an economics tome). Chapter 3, which explains the history of money in America, and the role of the Federal Reserve in controlling the money supply -- is worth the price of the book.
Professor Friedman will be sorely missed. R.I.P.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Clueless Bolsheviks Taking Charge

El Jefe is up to his posterior section in alligators with work this morning, so this will be an abbrieviated entry.
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Peop. Rep. San Francisco) isn't even Speaker yet, but, as Bob Novak makes clear, she's already shot herself in the foot over the selection of the House Majority Leader.
The Surrender Monkey set (including Ms. Pelosi) wants John Murtha (D-PA); but most members of the House Democratic caucus, says Mr. Novak, would rather have Steny Hoyer (D-MD), "who is more popular in the caucus and better qualified for leadership." Given that Representative Hoyer was the Minority Whip in the 109th Congress, it would seem to me that he'd be justified in expecting to be the Majority Whip; and, that Rep. Pelosi, in sending round a very public "Dear Colleague" letter endorsing Congressman Murtha, has treated Rep. Hoyer rather shabbily. Congressman Hoyer and his supporters appear to me to have correctly taken offense. Still, this is, after all, an internal matter for the Cut-and-Run party.
On the matter of cutting and running, Frederick Kagan absolutely demolishes the fantasy of strategic geniuses like Carl Levin and Joe Biden that calling chaotic, craven retreat "redeployment" or some similar obfuscating euphemism would amount to anything but a calamitous rout:
We face a stark choice now. We can either maintain bases and large forces in Iraq, or we can withdraw. If we withdraw, the Iraqi Army will collapse, and we will not be able to help it except by re-entering the country in large numbers and in a much worse situation. Attempts to mask this situation with military nonsensical solutions are dangerous. They will lead to higher US casualties or to defeat - and quite possibly to both.
The Weekly Standard has another fine offering on Iraq: "Six Steps to Victory: the Bottom-Up Plan to Defeat the Insurgency." by Eric Egland, (USAFR) who has experience on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. (Hat tip: Chester). As Major Egland says: "[f]ailure in Iraq is not an option, because it would spell disaster for US national security and foreign policy credibility, not to mention military morale."
The major's recommendations mostly focus on better and smarter use of existing assets, and are all well-taken, but I believe this is insufficient. Fortunately, the Guardian reports, President Bush is planning a "last big push" which will involve, inter alia, 20,000 reinforcements (equivalent of a division). This is a good start, and will be helpful, but I would like to see more sent: unfortunately, as Chester points out, force structure is a limiting factor. I have some ideas on remedying this problem, but I'm not ready to reveal that particular tiger yet. Meanwhile, read Chester.
ADDENDUM: You have to read Daisy Cutter from yesterday. Cutter reminds us that, bad as things are, they can certainly get worse:
And I see that Nancy Pelosi is backing a nice slate of "Blue Dogs" in the House for leadership. Looks like Alcee "Impeach This" Hastings is going to lead the House "Intelligence" Committee. Henry "Canyons for Nostrils" Waxman claims he doesn't know where to start first in investigating various government abuses. And John "ABSCAM" Murtha (who says his opponents are "Swift Boating" him, aka effectively telling the truth about his past) is going to fight that wascally ol' Wepublican culture of corruption as the new Majority Leader.
If these professional crooks are the answer, what is the question?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sub Surprise ?

During operations off Okinawa back on 26 October, the Navy is saying that a Chinese Song class submarine evidently made a rather close approach to aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). The Song class boat evidently surfaced within five miles of the carrier.
The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is at sea, presently participating in ANNUALEX 18G -- maneuvers with the Imperial Japanese Navy -- oops, the "Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force" (JMSDF). The JMSDF is probably the second or third most powerful navy on Earth.
Anyway, I find it difficult to get too excited about this: it’s the job of Chinese submarines, and everybody else’s, to get close to US aircraft carriers. (Hopefully the Chinese captains are careful not to run into Russian, North Korean and whatever other submarines might be lurking in the area). Whether the approach of the Song class boat was actually undetected, I beg leave to doubt. In addition to Kitty Hawk, (“the Battle Cat”), with her own air group -- the Kitty Hawk Strike Group includes a couple of cruisers, seven destroyers, and a pair of submarines, plus, most likely, satellites on call; all with a significant amount of submarine detection ability. . .
Probably, it's a good policy to never interrupt an enemy, or a putative enemy when he’s making a mistake, or showing you something interesting.
In any case, this is interesting, but not worth Drudge sirens. I mainly wanted to run the spiffy US Navy photo of Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk, the oldest active aircraft carrier, is scheduled to be retired in 2009, when USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), (the tenth and final Nimitz class carrier), enters service.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Uh, About That Bomb the Iranians Aren't Building ?

Rick Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Casablanca (1942) (Humphrey Bogart as “Rick Blaine” Claude Rains as “Captain Renault.”)

Captain Renault, also known as Mohamed El Baradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Director-General says, in a report released today that the IAEA has found unexplained plutonium and enriched uranium in an Iranian nuclear waste dump. Simply shocking. Who’d have thunk it ? The Iranians building a bomb maybe ?

Iranian Stop-and-Go clerk/President Mahmoud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad says Iran is soon going to “celebrate” completion of its nuclear fuel program, and the international community is “ready to accept” Iran as a nuclear state. Personally, I’d be a whole lot readier to accept Mad Jad in handcuffs in Evin Prison, awaiting the Islamic justice his government deals out to so many others No doubt Mad’s celebration party will have glow in the dark party bling for the guests. Will he invite Nancy Pelosi ?

Happy Foreigners

Reuters reports that the Iranian "Supreme Jurisprudent" Ayatollah Ali "Ali Shah" Khamenei calls the recent US congressional elections a victory for Iran. How right he is. As Ali Shah tells us: "[t]his issue (the elections) is not a purely domestic issue for America, but it is the defeat of Bush's hawkish policies in the world." Full speed ahead now on that nuclear weapon.
Plenty of other foreigners share Ali Shah's happiness at the Democrats' triumph. In Venezuela, Hugo "Nutjob Chavez (the Duce) described the elections as a "punishment" vote, and also said: "I believe that what is happening in the United States today was destined. . .We see [the Democrats’ win] with optimism, not for Venezuela, but for the world,” he added. Meanwhile, in Europe, 200 Socialist members of the European Parliament called the election results ". . .the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world."
Party on brothers. . .and keep laughing, for now. Maybe, one fine day, we will serve up a dish not so much to your liking. À tout à l'heure.

The Ivory Tower Set's First Shopping List

The attorney Bruce Fein writes in today’s Washington Times online that he hopes that the presumptive Speaker of the House for the 110th Congress, Nancy Pelosi (D – People’s Republic of San Francisco), will “. . .spearhead an effort to repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006.” The Military Commissions Act ("MCA") essentially undoes the damage to our ability to defend ourselves, cause by the Supreme Court in its absurd and stupid Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision. (No. 05-184, 548 U.S. ____, ___ S.Ct. ___ (June 29, 2006).

The Hamdan decision, tried, among other things, to extend the provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees –overturning generally understood interpretations of international law that have always held that that the Geneva conventions do not cover terrorists, who are not signatories to the conventions, or otherwise lawful combatants. The 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court essentially bought into the NGO/international lawyer lobby line of argument that sought to privilege non-state actors such as terrorists and “liberation movements” – and put them on the same level as nation states.
The MCA, among other things, ". . .establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the laws of war and other offenses triable by military commission." (10 U.S.C. § 948b). We are not talking about nice people here.

Mr. Fein blandly tells us that the “Constitution celebrates freedom and due process as the norm” and that Congress, in adopting the Military Commissions Act, did not engage in “any demonstration that applying customary legal rules to suspected international terrorists to safeguard against executive error or injustices. . .would threaten national security or the safety of America.”

Beg pardon sir, but the Congress is not required to engage in such a “demonstration” because the “customary” legal rules you are talking about do not apply to unlawful combatants. The Left is essentially denying that there is any such category -- that persons captured in arms against the United States or other countries are ipso facto prisoners of war. Well, there might be exceptions – I suppose the Left would have a fit if we captured right-wing terrorists and gave them the due process the Lefties are demanding for their precious Islamic nutjob terrorists.
I wonder, in any case, if the result would be what Mr. Fein supposes ? If, say, Mr. Abdul Terrorist, wearing no uniform, not a member of any identifiable organization -- is captured near a road in Iraq, setting up a mortar that would kill 20 US Marines, what happens then ? If Mr. Terrorist becomes entitled to the full benefit of Mr. Fein's "rule of law," and can hire American lawyers to file habeas petitions and generally run rings around the military or whoever has the misfortune of dealing with his case -- I wonder if Mr. Terrorist would survive to enjoy his rights ? Seems lots easier all round if he resists capture. That, in turn, will generate its own negative feedback, which will endanger still more US personnel.

Mr. Fein’s shopping list is not complete. In addition to the Military Commissions Act – he wants Mrs. Pelosi and her Leftist friends to start “. . .using the power of the purse to terminate the National Security Agency’s warrantless spying program.” But this is not all:

Mrs. Pelosi should also urge revision of the state secrets privilege. It denies justice to victims of constitutional violations if proof of their claims would require disclosure of classified information, for example a conspiracy to torture hatched between United States and foreign intelligence officials.

Oh, now there's a convenient straw man: "a conspiracy to torture," but we can think of some other examples can't we ? What about, say, a situation where the Feds arrest persons working for a foreign power, oh, maybe Russia or China -- and they are tried based on information from our spies in these countries. Guess what information has to come out in open court ? Without the states privilege (which was not invented by the Bush administration and dates to a Supreme Court case from 1875), we can either kill our own agents, reveal our own secrets, or let the defendant go free. Why bother having secrets anyway ?
The shopping list goes on. Mr. Fein wants “prohibitions on US government kidnappings, detentions or interrogations abroad.. . .” also a “media exception to criminal prosecutions for disclosing national defense information under the Espionage Act of 1917.” Mr. Fein tells us that “Mrs. Pelosi’s chance for a shining place in freedom’s history is at hand.” If she enacts this agenda, her statue will come with a dunce cap.

Fortunately, there is not a prayer of any of this happening, and if the Donkeys are this stupid (oh, we can only hope) to make their stand on the basis of civil rights for scumbag spies and foreign terrorists…both the filibuster and the veto pen are waiting.

Why don’t we just let Osama and Hamas sue in American courts ? Just go ahead and prostitute the Constitution, and American citizenship and make our rights apply to everybody, everywhere. The Left thinks there is no difference whatever between American citizens and the meanest peasant in Pakistan. As for secrets, clearly, to all Right Thinking people, especially at big universities or Leftie kaffee klatches, Rule of Law trumps trivalities such as national defense or foreign intelligence.
I wonder how many of us are going to be killed so that the precious terrorists can have their civil rights ? I suppose losing a city or three is a small price to pay so that scumbags at Guantanamo can have the “rule of law” rather than the gallows they deserve.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Getting Wrapped

Last night some girls from the Heir's school decided (again), to wrap our front yard in toilet paper. The Heir thinks he saw them as they drove off, so he's pretty sure he knows who did it.
A long bamboo pole is ideal from removing TP from the upper branches of trees: specially when El Jefe (er, excuse me, one of El Jefe's loyal servants), goes up the latter to wield it.
This is becoming a weekly activity, and the perpetrators, no doubt, will soon get theirs. . .

Saturday, November 11, 2006


(another annual post)

Have you forgotten yet ?
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.
Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz – The nights you watched and wired and dug...?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again ?’ . . .
Have you forgotten yet ?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon “Aftermath, March 1919.”

Today is Veterans Day in America. Because the calendar is crowded with holidays, Veterans Day replaced an older holiday, known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of the First World War, surely the most needless, tragic, but consequential war of modern times.

Canada, Australia and the other British Commonwealth nations, very appropriately, call today “Remembrance Day” which is how I prefer to think of it. World War I is ancient history to most of us, yet it is with us, always. Pause, friend, for a moment, wherever you are, and remember.
When historians look back upon our times, they will probably agree that the 21st Century really began on 11 September 2001. Similarly, Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year old Serbian revolutionary bandit, member of a terrorist organization called the Black Hand, the al Qaeda of its time, effectively began the 20th Century about 11:15 a.m. on 28 June 1914 when he murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Archduchess Sophie, by a bridge in Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Ninety years later, Sarajevo was the scene of more violence, this time between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, quarreling over the make-up of the post-Cold War Balkans. The 20th Century thus ended where and as it begin, in Sarajevo, in blood, with another war that nobody would win.
The 1990’s violence in the former Yugoslavia, like almost everything else in modern times, stemmed from the war that Princip helped begin. Over 10 million dead bodies later, the war he and a baker’s dozen of incompetents started ended today, in 1918.
Officially ended, anyway. How can an atrocity like the First World War ever truly end ? Fought over nothing, ending in no victory for anyone, except political cranks, left wing and right wing radicals, demagogic ideologues and other fanatics. The First World War, besides murdering millions, destroyed ancient Christian kingdoms, and killed the faith of the peoples in their civilization, in their leaders, in progress, parliamentary institutions, science and religion, and left us instead the poison fruits of Communism, Nazism, and Socialism and all the other radical “isms” you can possibly ever think of.
The road to Auschwitz, Hitler and Stalin runs straight from the murder scene in Sarajevo. The Second World War killed more, in raw numbers, than the First – but the later war was only a continuation made possible by the poisons unleashed in the first war.
Satan had a good day of it in Sarajevo in June 1914. If not for the murderer Princip, and the clumsy diplomats and generals who blundered Europe and the world into a war everyone lost, whoever would have heard of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini ? Lenin would have rotted away in exile with his books and scribblings; Hitler no doubt would have died in deserved obscurity in some Vienna doss-house. Stalin would have met the inevitable fate of a bank robber; and Mussolini perhaps never left journalism. No collapse of the British Empire forcing America onto the world stage to redress the balance. No Great Depression, no Nazis, no World War II or Holocaust, no Cold War. Maybe no collapse of the Ottoman Empire giving us, ultimately, Bin-Laden, Zarqawi, Hamas and suicide bombers.
But Gavrilo Princip fired his fatal bullets, and the whole edifice of civilization crumpled before them. The shots of Sarajevo echo still. Gentle reader, think today of his crime, and of all whom, unknowing, ultimately paid. Because of the shots in Sarajevo, men who had no reason to hate each other fought and murdered each other all over the world in job lots -- in the fields of Champagne, on the roads of Poland and in the snows of Russia, in Iraq and in China. Children died in the cold Atlantic and starved by the million in Russia, the mountains of Armenia and the Balkans. Sleepy eastern Europe, so long a quiet agricultural backwater, twice in fifty years was turned into an abattoir.
Beyond the seas, America lost its isolation. Americans died in the Argonne and, thirty years later, in the Pacific and in the deserts of Africa; later in the jungles of Vietnam. Today US Marines are dying in Anbar, Baghdad and in the hills of Afghanistan, all in some way because of, or related to the acres of warehouses of cans of worms opened by Princip.
Besides killing, maiming and wounding millions, the war had other, more insidious effects, as we have seen just this week. Most fatally, Europe lost confidence in its leaders, in science, in the Christian religion – in itself -- at some level even in its right to exist as a culture. Today we see France, mulcted by its sacrifice of so much blood and treasure in the first half of the 20th Century, hesitant to even criticize, much less repress, barbarian rioters in its midst, and even willing to pay them to be quiet. Germany and Russia, gravely wounded in both body and soul, led the turn away from God, progress, law and civilization, and burned books and millions of their own citizens. Britain, mother of Parliaments and the law, crippled and bankrupted by that war and its continuation, abandoned its Empire, is ashamed of its past, and its political class today quivers in fear of criticism by modernity's ascendant barbarians.
Today in 1918 -- on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh month, of the eleventh day – the first war ended, and the killing took a break. Think of all war dead today, dear reader. But, almost 100 years on, spare a thought for a moment or two for all the dead of the Great War, so pointless, so long ago, but so horribly, tragically important.

Veterans Day

(an annual post)

When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today

Inscription, British War Memorial, Kohima, India.(attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds, Times Literary Supplement[London], 4 July 1918)

Today is Veterans Day in the USA. As our soldiers, sailors and aviators serve and struggle for us throughout the world, particularly today in Iraq and Afghanistan, pause in your business for a moment, and think of them, and of our veterans. Remember those who are not with us today, because they made the ultimate sacrifice. If you know a veteran, and have the opportunity, say “Thank you.”

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tet, 2006

Go read Austin Bay’s excellent post “Tet 2006” over at the Austin Bay Blog. Colonel Bay has an excellent round-up of some really good commentary on, inter alia, the enemy’s manipulation of both the US media and the US elections; and, more importantly, the unreadiness of both US political parties – and by extension, the American public, for a real war. Colonel Bay says:

The Bush Administration prepared to fight a Beltway war for Pentagon modernization, not a global, multi-dimensional war. Rumsfeld loaded up with sophisticated Beltway Clerks like Paul Wolfowitz, etc — excellent choices for fighting Congress. 9/11 blindsided these best laid plans. Rumsfeld needed to clean house of the clerks and bring in warfighters.

I question the degree to which this could have been different, because I think that as a people our leadership is psychologically unready to do what it takes to win. As Ralph Peters (quoted in part by Colonel Bay) said:
In the bizarre political confusion of our times, with old party characterizations nearly meaningless, one crucial factor that shaped the Iraq effort went unnoticed: Neither party understands warfare, and neither party wants to.

Political correctness shaped the Bush administration's approach to military operations as decisively as it did the Clinton administration's pop-gun antics. The Bush bunch just did things on a larger scale - they wanted a war, but didn't want to hurt anybody.

No matter how many troops we send, we're bound to fail if the troops aren't allowed to fight. . .

(emphasis in underline in original as italics)

Go read both colonels, and see Col. Bay's links, especially the Strategy Page article

Happy Birthday Marine Corps !

On 10 November 1775, before the United States was yet a country, the Continental Congress created what became the United States Marine Corps. Legend has it that the first Marine recruiting post was in a bar -- Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. The Corps was 300 strong by 1775, and soon found itself on ships headed for the Caribbean to raid the Bahamas, and the Corps has been carrying our flags around the globe ever since. Today, the Marines are 180,000 strong.
It is altogether typical that on their Corps’ 231st birthday, America’s Marines are carrying the fight to the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as their fathers and brothers did before them in Grenada, at Hue City, the Chosun Reservoir, Iwo Jima, Peleliu, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Corregidor, Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Peking, Nicaragua, Mexico City, Tripoli and a million other places. Semper Fi guys, and may God be with all of you every day, especially today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
UPDATE (1:30 p.m., 10 Nov.). Frequent commenter "Louie Louie" calls El Jefe's attention to "Jarhead Red," a Cabernet Sauvignon, "conceived," the website tells us, ". . .in 1999 as a celebratory bottling for the annual Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Birthday Ball in Los Angeles."
"Jarhead Red" is billed as "a wine made by Marines, for Marines, at Firestone Vineyard on California’s Central Coast." The Jarhead Red website gives instructions on where to find the wine, and it says that the net proceeds from purchases benefit a good cause, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. Louie Louie says he'll be drinking some this evening, which sounds like a good choice to me.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Rumsfeld Resigns

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumfeld resigned today, and this departure was both necessary and overdue. Secretary Rumsfeld has been superlatively loyal to his boss, often effective in his position -- and has a slew of accomplishments to his credit. Past master of bureaucratic politics, Secretary Rumsfeld made plenty of enemies, not least in his own Department.
It is important for a Secretary of Defense, (and a President), to take well-informed military advice when and as appropriate, but not to ever be dominated or bamboozled by service agendas masquerading as expert advice.
Rumsfeld, armed with a ferocious temper, formidable political skills and both massive ego and intellect -- sucessfully avoided co-optation by the military, but perhaps he succeeded too well. Rumsfeld's relentless pressure: well-documented in such works on the Second Gulf War as Trainor and Gordon's Cobra II, to do more with less, and go into Iraq with a minimum of conventional force, combined with his reluctance to see the military sucked into nation-building missions, appears to have been at least in part responsible for the initial failure to properly respond to the developing Iraq insurgency in late 2003 early 2004. To a layman looking in from the outside, Secretary Rumsfeld appears to have harbored a certain amount of bias against plans and suggestions of the Army leadership.
President Bush has many faults, but the absence of loyalty isn't one of them. A President, or other political leader has to be able to discard even loyal subordinates ruthlessly and without compunction, when it is necessary to advance the mission. With Secretary Rumsfeld, that point had certainly been reached.
The choice of replacement (Texas A&M President Robert Gates) is interesting: an old Washington hand with long experience at CIA, and on the National Security Council. Dr. Gates is supposed to be close personally to President Bush. . . and the President's father, the first President Bush.
Dr Gates's prior experience is primarily with an agency that, at the very least, would be characterized as "troubled" and often at odds with the Department of Defense. How effective Dr. Gates will prove as Secretary of Defense remains to be seen. Dr. Gates figured as a witness in the 1980's Iran-Contra affair -- which might concern Democrats, who saw aid to the Nicaraguan anti-communist rebels as a scandal rather than intelligent. If the Democrats are especially stupid, (that is, more so than usual), Dr. Gates's confirmation hearings might be interesting.

Rolling Apocalypse

Looks like the Donkeys have the Senate also. . .

Débâcle (II)

I won't have much to say for today, maybe for a couple of days. . .but a couple of thoughts are in order.

First, and most importantly, the US must carry on with the war. We cannot abandon the Iraqis as we did the South Vietnamese in 1974-1975. Following our withdrawal in 1972, the Democrats in Congress shamefully cut off aid and support for the Republic of Vietnam, and abandoned that country to its Soviet and Chinese backed enemies. We MUST not let that happen again.

The President should try to reach across the aisle. There are people there to talk to, including Connecticut's now-independent, but once and future Senator, Joe Lieberman. If cooperation in Congress, on this issue, cannot be found -- there are still options -- but more on that another time.
Also, President Bush has, probably, had it. He is only President now in a negative sense, and that unless and until he is impeached. There are certainly going to be impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives, and I think it will go beyond hearings. In any case, he will be fully occupied with survival, and what's left of the war effort.
The question now is what will the Democrats do ? The new arrivals seem to be in good part of the "Blue Dog" Reagan Democrat variety, and much more moderate than their leadership, and probably their contributors. Will the Democrats attempt moderation, or will the Left be given its head ?

Débâcle (I)

Well, that was bloody marvelous. Splendid even.

Election Day 2006 (IV)

Opening the scotch...the only good thing about today. It appears the Senate may be gone also. The catastrophe appears to have materialized.
Presumably, Commissar Pelosi will proclaim the People's Republic soon.

Election Day 2006 (III)

The House of Representatives appears to be gone.

Some good news in Texas: Governor Perry re-elected (both Democrat Chris Bell and Carole Keeton Strayhorn have conceded). Bell probably did as well as could be expected here, the Democrats are very weak at the state level, and he was hobbled by the bizarre candidacy of gadfly humorist Richard "Kinky" Friedman.
As for one-time Republican, one-time Democrat, current Independent and State Comptroller "Grandma" Strayhorn (she of many names) -- Grandma has conceded also, and probably would have taken enough votes from Governor Perry to put Bell over the top, had Kinky not been in there tangling things up.
Bad news from US House District 22. Ms. Sekula-Gibbs seems to have won the special election to fill the seat of Tom DeLay, quite handily -- but this is only for the unexpired portion of his term, to January of 2007. The Democratic candidate, Nick Lampson, will apparently occupy the seat for the 110th Congress, from January 2007 forward, because, thanks to the courts, Ms. Sekula-Gibbs could only run as a write-in candidate, in one of the most Republican districts in the United States.
Here's hoping Mr. Lampson enjoys his two years in Congress, "representing" the people of District 22. I'm sure your "constiuents" will provide you an entertaining term. A bit of advice, Mr. Lampson: rent, and don't bother buying a home in Washington, sir; you won't need it, because you sure won't be going back.

Election Day 2006 (II)

I've spent my evening at James Coney Island (a local hot-dog emporium), studying Spanish with the Heir, and then at basketball practice, so I've been away from televisions and computers all evening.
My horseback guess at 10 p.m. is that things look bad, but not catastrophic. Small consolation. Will update momentarily.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Britney ! and K-FED are Quits !!! last the secret is revealed. Darth Rove's master conspiracy is at last in motion ! It's his best plan yet: Huzzah for the Empire and the Dark Forces !
K-FED and Britney are h-i-s-t-o-r-y. This very day, smack-dab in the middle of the nightmare election, Britney ! has filed her Bill of Divorcement, her Notice of Adios Muchacho -- right in El Lay County Superior Court, AP tells us. Mr. Britney Spears has at last got his walking papers.
What better way to keep millions glued to the internet and TV ? All safely away from election returns and voting booths, ensuring a clear run for the shock troops of the tinfoil hat/black helicopter election fixers !
Truly, Sith Master Karl has outdone himself.

October "Revolution"

Almost forgot that today is the anniversary, in 1917, of the October Coup in Russia, the day Lenin and the piratical Bolshevik Party launched their "revolution" (in reality an armed rebellion by a tiny minority faction) to topple the Kerensky regime, another bunch of somewhat more savory rebels.
Lenin, Trotsky and company would have been left swinging from nearby lamp-posts if Mr. Kerensky had possessed 2,000 or so loyal troops. True for the Tsar back in March as well. Unfortunately in both cases, the cupboard was bare, and the rest is history. . .
How fitting that the Pelosi/Dean/Kossack crowd, ersatz-Bolsheviks themselves, should acquire political power on this anniversary.

Election Day 2006 (I)

Nothing to do but wait now, and see what emerges from the dust. Don't forget to vote -- especially if you agree with me about things.
Meanwhile, I have plenty of work to do, perhaps a lunch date with somebody who has promised she will NOT mention elections or politicians. Meanwhile, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, etc., etc., etc.
Excuse me while I go vomit in the corridor.
UPDATE: (2:20 p.m.) Things don't appear so bad as I thought. . . Bad enough, but not epic disaster.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Mr. Saddam's Got a Date

Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majidida al-Tikriti, ex-President, ex-Head of State, ex-Field-Marshal, ex-commander-in-chief of the armed forces, ex-chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and ex-secretary-general of the Iraqi Command of the Baath Party; onetime inhabitant of the Republican Palace, Baghdad, more recently found in a urine-filled hole in the ground, and presently occupying a jail-cell someplace in the Baghdad Green Zone -- has been sentenced to hang by the neck until dead, dead, dead.

His Former Excellency begged the guards not to bend his arms as he rose to hear sentence pronounced.

National Review Online pretty much covers the waterfront on What it All Means, and you can read that if you’re so inclined. As I have argued elsewhere, once Saddam dances on air, the US has accomplished one of its principal war aims. Take note Messrs Kim, Mad Jad and others.

The Election to End "Hubris"

Tomorrow, as most people know, the US has congressional elections. The smart people with the computers, and our betters in the chattering classes, who, believe you me, study hard, and are supremely qualified to tell the rest of us how to live – know what you’re going to do. The egghead consensus is that you’re going to give both the House and the Senate to the Democratic Party, perhaps by large majorities.

Maybe not, polling over the last twenty-four hours has gotten a little more optimistic from the point of view of sanity – that is, from that of people who don’t want “Speaker Pelosi” or who don’t think that Teddy Kennedy having serious input on Iraq policy is such a good idea. But the Left is busy lining up the drink order, and warming up the band, because their pundits are thinking that we’re bought and sold.

Here's a link to a column that appears in today's online edition of the Boston Globe, by Mr. James Carroll. This column needs to be read by as many people as possible, as it shows, with complete honesty, what the Left in this country thinks about the present war; what it will do with political power when it gets it; and, that the Left really thinks that the only kind of slip Senator Kerry made awhile back was of a Freudian nature.

As Mr. Carroll rightly says, the “…war in Iraq has emerged as a key issue in tomorrow’s election.” Do tell, Mr. Carroll ? The hour may have struck at last for enemies of "American imperialism" (my quotes, not Mr. Carroll's) as it did in 1972. But in 1972, we Americans just didn't face up to the horror of our moral position, and accept defeat:
The goal of "peace with honor" assumes that the nation's honor has not already been squandered. During Vietnam, for all the widespread opposition to the war, the American public was never ready to face the full truth of what had been done in its name, and so the martial band played on. . .The war ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, with the United States whining that somehow it had been the victim. . .
Anyway, Mr. Carroll and friends know what they want you to do; what they expect that you will do; and, what they think will happen if “Speaker Pelosi” really comes to pass. We have a chance to get defeat right, this time. The "money" quote:

. . .If the Democrats take power with the elections tomorrow, congressional hearings will have a lot of such questions to consider. But what about the moral question ? For all of the anguish felt over the loss of American lives, can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic American power has been thwarted ? Can we admit that the loss of honor will not come with how the war ends, because we lost our honor when we began it ? This time, can we accept defeat ?

(emphasis supplied)

Mr. Carroll, to his credit, is not obfuscating here: he’s saying that the defeat of our war effort in Iraq will be a GOOD thing. Gotta get rid of that “hubristic American power.”

Read the whole thing. I hope you'll consider this when you vote tomorrow. Pass the link many people as possible need to know what Mr. Carroll thinks.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Back from the Boonies

Back from a night in the bundu, away from Cuidad El Jefe. . .with no internet, TV or politicans. Didn't mind it a bit, why did I return ?
The Heir is having a sleepover. . .several kids, in honor of his birthday. No doubt it shall be a busy evening.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Die Rolling and Consequences

All the prognosticators seem to think the Republicans will lose the House of Representatives next week, and possibly the Senate also.
I don't know, it depends on who is going, or will go, to the polls, and we'll know the answers to these questions soon enough. The more interesting questions involve why this is happening, and what comes next.
Patrick Buchanan has an interesting column today. Mr. Buchanan blames the approaching disaster on first, the ethical scandals; then, too much free trade; and, most of all, Iraq. The money quote:
Yet about the war, America remains divided and conflicted. For the roaring Republican reception to Bush's calls for "victory" testifies to another truth. While most Americans wish we had never gone in and want out, America does not want to lose the war as we lost Vietnam.
Neither party knows a way to accomplish what America wants: to leave Iraq without losing the war. And the reason neither party knows how to do it is because it cannot be done. Like a patient suffering from cancer, we want an end to the "chemo" -- the awful news daily coming out of Iraq -- but we do not want the consequences.
Meanwhile, Daniel Henninger over at Wall Street Journal says Americans voting to replace a Republican congress with the Donkey Party "are about to make one of the biggest rolls of the dice in the country's history." Well, yeah, that about sums it up, doesn't it ? Voters, Mr. Henninger tells us (I think , correctly), are depressed, and want "surcease" from the diet of disaster news about Iraq:
If the Democrats win the House by a large margin, media commentary will call it a "repudiation" of the administration's policies in Iraq. . . but it's not at all clear this is the message voters want to send.
A closer look at the Times Oct. 27-31 poll is revealing on this count: 55% favor sending more troops to Iraq; 51% say the U.S. "will have lost" if it pulls out now; 62% think the U.S. will have to remain in Iraq beyond two years; 59% say neither side is winning; a majority, 52%, think the U.S. is likely to succeed there. . .
There is more ambiguity--and common sense--out there than imagined. Enough ambiguity that come the moment of choosing a course Tuesday, voters may give the Democrats less than they expect.
. . .I think the Joe Lieberman race remains a bellwether. Sen. Lieberman's politics represented a Democratic bridge to the president's war on terror. Stampeded by their party's Web-based left, the Democratic Party elders went to Connecticut and blew up the Lieberman bridge. My reading of the electorate is that it wants that bridge rebuilt and it wants both the Democrats and George Bush on it. . .
I think Mr. Henninger is reading the tea leaves splendidly, and he's spot-on as to the public mood - in particular his analysis of the importance of Senator Lieberman and persons like him, and if the President is wise, he will bend over backwards to rebuild that bridge. Mr. Henninger thinks the public is trying to convey a desire for an end to the unending political war between "embittered Democrats" and the "presidential clique."
However, I think Mr. Buchanan is also right, and that the last thing coming out of this kind of rolling the dice on the Democrats is "surcease." I think a vote for the Democrats is in effect a vote to abandon the war: so many Democrats just want to cut and run and give up the job. Morever, Iraqis now must begin to consider a future without the Americans, and people who have sat on the fence, or have worked with the Americans are going to need to consider how best to work their passage with the putative victors.
Contrary to the desires of the public, (as distilled by Mr. Henninger), the results next week are not going to be less poltical conflict -- but a significant escalation. The government will spend the next two years completely gridlooked: embroiled in allocating blame for Iraq, in impeachment hearings (oh yeah, that's coming); and plenty of contenders for 2008 jockeying for position. Oh, note to conservatives, you'd better forget your judges for awhile. If another vacancy appears on the Supreme Court, might as well leave it for the next administration.
Meanwhile, we do have a problem or three. Immigration issues are not going to be addressed and we're hocking ourselves to the Asian banks faster than you can say Master Card. The Baby Boomers are getting ready to start cashing Social Security checks in huge batches, and nobody wants to think about how we're not going to pay for it. There's going to be plenty of embitterment to go around.
The "roll of the dice" seems very likely to produce Mr. Buchanan's "consequences" -- (brother, will it ever) -- and the consequences are going to be a great disaster for many, many people, including, before we're done, the Democrats. But more on that one another time.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Beer Time

A long Day at The Office. . .
I don't get it. It's like they expect me to work or something ? Capitalism is such a letdown for aristos like El Jefe.
You know what ? St. Arnold's Christmas Ale is really good this year. Bet you can tell it's good too, cause I'm making this post. The instruction page (link above) says that it's best consumed at 45 degrees F. I'm sure that means the beer and not the room: if it doesn't, the only way I'm gonna do that is with SWMBO, or the Official El Jefe girlfriend/mistress around. . .but it's still pretty good.
Come to think of it, maybe I should fix it where I'm covered both ways.

All the Marbles

Good morning ! Isn't that a spiffy pic ? This photograph of Earth (found in Wikipedia) was taken by the US spacecraft Apollo 17 at about 4:39 a.m. central time on 7 December 1972 -- about five hours after the spacecraft was launched. A beautiful photograph of Apollo 17 prior to launch may be found here.
To the Heavens above us
O look and behold
The Planets that love us
All harnessed in gold!
What chariots, what horses
Against us shall bide
While the Stars in their courses
Do fight on our side?
Rudyard Kipling "An Astrologer's Song."

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Another Response to Senator Kerry

From Drudge (Hat tip: SWMBO). The picture speaks for itself.

When is a Majority Not a Majority ?

Commenter “Louie Louie” made the following observation:

. . .even though the repubs have more senators in the chamber i've always had the impression that reid is the majority leader AND the one who sets the agenda. yes i know, he isn't and does not.

But to a degree, Reid is, and does. Quite aside from the whole issue of "RINOs" -- Republicans in Name Only", part of the reason the Republicans are in such a fix is that although they have paper majorities in Congress, and control the White House, they are by no stretch of the imagination the “governing party” of this country, and are to some degree almost an occupying force in Washington.

The Democrats are a governing party – they represent the interests of the professional bureaucracy; the teachers unions; academia; the plaintiff’s bar; the whole complex of social workers and other helping professions; big media and Hollywood; the unions; plenty of big time money (particularly on the East Coast). All these groups include lots and lots of people who do very well, thank you, but, like David Brooks's BoBo's, vote Democrat as sort of a totem – to satisfy themselves that although they make big money and send their kids to private schools, they still have enough of a social conscience to vote Democrat. The Democrats, in short, own Washington and the big coastal cities.

The Republicans by comparison, are the nerd party of flyover country. Bush is a perfect foil for the Democrats – to them he's a stiff from Texas who is retro, pro-military, mangles his syntax, doesn't read the New York Times, and goes to church. Ever since this guy came in – the Democrats, who KNOW they should run everything, have been completely locked out of power by a crowd the Democrats think of as philistine uneducated poseurs from Nowheresville. The Democrats have a lot of cultural and political assets – but they have control of NO federal elective lever of power – and have to rely on the media and the courts to protect their agenda.

No wonder the Left yells so loud about dictatorship and “Bushitler.” They’ve been excluded and ignored. It’s not dictatorship, of course – what they’ve really been demanding is something like John Calhoun tried to claim for Southerners with his “concurrent majority” theory – since the Lefties represent 40 odd percent of the country, Lefties think they have a right to have their wishes consulted, to some degree -- a species of “bipartisanship.”

But the Republicans have ruled completely without the consent of the Left opinion-makers: over their heads, around them, ignored them. Bush has been able to accomplish this because he had the votes, but also because of the war; by leveraging the power of the Presidency; and, by using his ability to make news. The Democrats ignored Republicans in similar fashion for years – but the Republicans don’t have the chattering classes on-side to the degree that Democrats do.

There is a price to be paid for using majority power without corresponding supporting institutions. “Strategery” and maneuvering works for only so long. How much agenda setting can the “majority” Republicans do with the media, the professional bureaucracy and all the other forces enumerated set against them ?

The conservative movement comes up short because it does not have the supporting forces the Democrats have. Until the Republicans, and conservatives generally, make their own march through the institutions, and acquire more media and chattering class power – majorities will only be of limited use, and vulnerable to being suddenly swept away when things go less than perfectly.


Went trick-or-treating with the kiddos last night, so didn't have the opportunity to work on anything to put here this morning.
Lots more folks out last night than last year. Seems like Halloween 2005 was rather soggy.
Listening to the soundtrack from The Empire Strikes Back this morning: one of my favorite soundtracks from my favorite of the Star Wars films.