Civilian Control of the Military

Watching this 14 minute of clip of Scarborough Country looking at how isolated Bush is. Conservatives Scarborough and Mike Barnicle are (finally) using words like "delusional." Watch it here.

One of the things that they're really hammering is how he is not listening to the generals and not doing whatever they say. Barnicle, at the end, says that if there is evidence that Bush ignored his commanders on the ground, then he should be "relieved of command."

Let's get something straight. Bush was (probably) elected by American voters. Therefore Bush controls the military. What he says goes. Generals should not tell Bush what to do, and their advice should not dictate policy. When Bush was saying that he was "listening to his commanders on the ground" and insinuating that his generals supported his plans, it was obviously "spin" for purely domestic political purposes. If he had actually been listening to his generals, he would have been allowing tactics to drive strategy. His commanders would naturally have skewed opinions, emphasizing their own sectors and missions for resources. While it is important for Bush to listen to those opinions, they shouldn't be the dominant driver of American strategy in Iraq.

Much of the media is treating the fact that Bush has no support from his generals like some unprecedented calamity. There's actually a significant, and positive, precedent. In World War II, FDR went against the advice of his generals all the time, sometimes for diplomatic reasons (to support Britain or the USSR) and sometimes just using his own judgment. The invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch, was undertaken against strenuous opposition from American generals, who wanted to invade occupied France as soon as possible. World War II generals also fought amongst themselves for resources, men, ships, planes, intelligence, etc.

Now here's difference between FDR, who defeated one of the biggest challenges to liberal values, and Bush, who launched an elective war leading to the biggest strategic failure in the history of this country: FDR listened to his generals and occasionally ignored them in pursuit of his own strategic vision, while Bush doesn't listen to anyone who disagrees with him, and has no strategic vision other than "invading Iraq --> ? --> democracy". THAT is what the media should be concentrating on. The entire strategy for "victory" in Iraq is aimed at maintaining American public support for the war, in the belief that staying = winning and leaving = losing.

There are plenty of reasons that Bush needs to be booted out of the White House (torture, illegal domestic intelligence gathering, I'm sure there are others in this book that I saw on the Colbert Report but haven't read). But the American media and the American public needs to accept that the President is responsible for the strategy in Iraq and whatever he says it is must be carried out. If everybody realized that, it would be impossible to pin blame on the failed strategy in Iraq on anyone other than Bush (for example Rumsfeld). We would then be much closer to a consensus around impeaching Bush and Cheney, and getting some civilians in charge who might have a snowball's chance in hell in getting the US out of this mess.

BTW, girlfriend visiting tomorrow for two weeks, so posting will be light (by the standards of this blog, that means non-existent).

Trip down memory lane

The new fad in American thinking on Iraq is the Darwin Principle, which basically says "three ethnic groups just can't get along, let's get rid of one so there are just two." The method to accomplish this is to look the other way while Shi'ite militias cleanse Baghdad, southern Iraq, and basically anywhere that isn't al-Anbar of Sunnis (many Sunnis have been leaving Shi'ite areas already).

So, to take a trip down memory lane, our reasons for invading/occupying/not withdrawing from Iraq:

Saddam has WMD (Rick Santorum still thinks he did)
Saddam can not be contained or deterred (he was)
Saddam perpetrated crimes against humanity (back in the early 1990s, before he was contained)
Spreading democracy (going great!)
Counter Iran's influence in the region (Opposite has happened)
Protect oil fields (Failed)
Prevent an Iraqi civil war by balancing against Shi'ites to protect Sunnis (Iraqi civil war happening anyway)
And now finally, the Darwin principle, i.e., Facilitate and then end the Iraqi civil war as fast as possible by bandwagoning with Shi'ites.

Reasons this Darwin bandwagoning idea is bad:
1) All our allies in the region (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt) are Sunni Muslim and will not like it if we aid the slaughter of their allies in Iraq. Saudi Arabia has even threatened to intervene themselves (while the author of that op-ed, Nawaf Obaid, has since been fired by the Saudi government, that does not necessarily mean his proposal for aiding Iraqi Sunnis has been discounted by the Saudis since there is currently a big shake-up in the Saudi foreign policy community and honestly nobody has any idea what's going on).
2) It is immoral (aiding ethnic cleansing, duh).
3) It's immorality would seriously damage US credibility in the world, which is basically the only reason hawks can cite to keep American troops in Iraq (other than shouting "What if we lose!?!?").
4) It would also reduce American credibility because it would be a complete 180 reversal of current strategy (take, hold, build, or whatever the idiotic marketing slogan is). By its very nature as a 180 reversal it would be ineffective because it would damage perceptions of American reliability.
5) Sunni/Shi'ite identities aren't wholly exclusionary, bringing up the question "how Sunni must you be in order to be deported/killed/etc?"
6) It would aid Sunni Islamist terrorists in their goal of radicalizing as many Sunni Muslims as possible; depending on media coverage, it could radicalize more than the invasion and original occupation itself.
7) It assumes the American military has some semblance of control of the current situation (i.e., would doing something be that big a change from the status quo of doing nothing, in light of our capabilities or lack thereof?)

Sigh. I would have thought this was too horrible of an idea to ever see the light of day, but I keep thinking that and I keep being proved wrong...

You can always trust the NYTimes bring you the news you need.

Americans poop 20% more than they did in 1980. We also drink more bottled water than beer (I will do my best to reverse that tonight when I celebrate the end of finals) (don't worry Mom, I won't drink too much).

Some other stuff from the article:
“The large master trend here is that over the last hundred years, technology has privatized our leisure time,” said Robert D. Putnam, a public policy professor at Harvard and author of “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.”
“The distinctive effect of technology has been to enable us to get entertainment and information while remaining entirely alone,” Mr. Putnam said. “That is from many points of view very efficient. I also think it’s fundamentally bad because the lack of social contact, the social isolation means that we don’t share information and values and outlook that we should.”
I am skeptical of people who think that the internet leads to social isolation. Through the internet this week I talked to people in the Philippines, Iraq, Turkey and probably other places as well (I don't necessarily know where because it's not necessary to know where someone is to talk to them) - internet and other communications technologies don't isolate us from people around us, they just lower the requirement for being physically near someone to interact socially with them, thus leading to MORE, not less spreading of information, values, opinions and world outlooks.
I would describe "isolation" as when my computer was dead, leaving me with no internet and forcing me to walk around in order to talk to people, thus raising the barrier (my own laziness) to social interaction.

Engineering Microorganisms for Energy Production

The JASON group is a science advisory consulting group that does lots of secret research stuff. They recently did a non-secret study titled "Engineering Microorganisms for Energy Production." It's available on the FAS's website. Here are chunks of the executive summary:

JASON was asked by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the Department of Energy to assess the possibilities for using microorganisms to produce fuels as a metabolic product, in particular hydrogen or ethanol. We were asked to consider the prospects for achieving such biogenic fuel production in principle and in practice; and what the requirements and fundamental limitations are for achieving viability.
...Boosting the efficiency of fuel formation from microorganisms is an important research challenge for the twenty first century. It is perhaps the major technological application for the emerging field of synthetic biology. In addition to the exciting opportunities for producing ethanol or hydrogen, microorganisms, either individually or in communities, might be used to directly produce liquid hydrocarbons.
...The systems biology of microorganisms is more tractable than that of plants, and thus microorganisms represent an excellent opportunity.

My car is going to run off amoeba farts!!! Oh wait...

Even with an optimistic assessment of the potential for improvements, photosynthetic efficiency will lag behind that of man-made technologies (e.g., photovoltaic solar cells).

Well, I'll settle for a solar car I guess. Still pretty cool.


Here is the text of a letter I wrote to Jeff Jacoby a few minutes ago:

I would like to help correct a few puzzling misconceptions you have about atheists (from your column).
"Though religion remains important in American life, antireligious passion is surging here, too.Examples abound: In two recent best sellers , Sam Harris heaps scorn on religious believers, whose faith he derides as 'a few products of ancient ignorance and derangement.'"
Will your next column be on how Ann Coulter's best sellers demonstrate American hatred of atheism? More Americans go to church every week than any other Western country; to say that there is an antireligious passion surging in America based on some book sales is just silly IMHO especially when there are many many more books being sold that target religious buyers.

"That is because without God, the difference between good and evil becomes purely subjective."

That actually is not true. I am an atheist and I believe society's moral and ethical code comes from thousands of years of societal evolution. Just because you don't think a big father-figure in the sky will punish you if you break a rule doesn't mean that good and evil are entirely subjective (and how "moral" is a person who only behaves because they fear punishment?). The construction of social norms takes hundreds of years and the actions of millions of people - one person's opinion is almost inconsequential, forcing him or her to abide by the rules of the community.
"The atheist alternative is a world in which right and wrong are ultimately matters of opinion, and in which we are finally accountable to no one but ourselves."
Since society's rules come from the community, rule-breakers are accountable to the general community (laws, prison, etc.). And as I stated above, right and wrong are not matters of opinion, but rules that have evolved and been passed down over the generations.
Furthermore it is not a binary either/or set of options - either religion is in public life, or atheists run everything. It is entirely possible to have religion play a very big role in people's lives in the home, and have public life and the public moral and ethical code be informed by the religious beliefs of individuals, but not a platform for expression or proselytizing of those religious beliefs. Judeo-Christian norms (whatever that means... Judeo-Christian tradition is far from monolithic) can be predominant without having a cross in every courtroom.
If you read this far, thank you for your time.
- Adrian

BTW, finals end tomorrow, yay.

US intel communities

This is a good NYTimes article on U.S. intel communities and how/why they are organizational dinosaurs.

...throughout the intelligence community, spies are beginning to wonder why their technology has fallen so far behind — and talk among themselves about how to catch up. Some of the country’s most senior intelligence thinkers have joined the discussion, and surprisingly, many of them believe the answer may lie in the interactive tools the world’s teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands. Billions of dollars’ worth of ultrasecret data networks couldn’t help spies piece together the clues to the worst terrorist plot ever. So perhaps, they argue, it’ s time to try something radically different. Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?

H/T to Minstrel Boy.

Common sense > conventional wisdom

Ahmadinejad is no Hitler.

"It is a peculiar American fascination to continually look for the next Hitler. Josef Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh and even Saddam Hussein were all touted at one time or another as Hitler incarnate. Ahmadinejad is simply the latest figure to be contemplated for that role. Evidently, many in Washington simply cannot grasp the fact that Hitler was a uniquely evil politician and that he is in fact dead. The United States — the country that won the Cold War and contained its adversaries — should be able to deter a second-rate power with an intemperate leader."

This essay ran opposite Muravchik's shoboinking.

Who is this Muravchik?

I had never heard of Muravchik before his Foreign Policy article "Operation Comeback," which I blogged about here. But now he has popped up again in the LA Times, in an op-ed titled "Bomb Iran." Reading it frustrated me. I will now issue a point-by-point refutation.

Bomb Iran
Diplomacy is doing nothing to stop the Iranian nuclear threat; a show of force is the only answer.
By Joshua Muravchik, JOSHUA MURAVCHIK is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
November 19, 2006

WE MUST bomb Iran.

It has been four years since that country's secret nuclear program was brought to light,
The CIA states that there is no evidence that Iran even has a secret nuclear program except for one Israeli agent who's reports the White House won't let them read.
and the path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere.
Muravchik claims we have tried diplomacy, despite the fact that no American officials have talked with any Iranian officials about this matter. Muravchik's claim that diplomacy has failed is false (aka a lie) because we haven't tried it yet.
First, we agreed to our allies' requests that we offer Tehran a string of concessions, which it spurned. Then, Britain, France and Germany wanted to impose a batch of extremely weak sanctions. For instance, Iranians known to be involved in nuclear activities would have been barred from foreign travel — except for humanitarian or religious reasons — and outside countries would have been required to refrain from aiding some, but not all, Iranian nuclear projects.

But even this was too much for the U.N. Security Council. Russia promptly announced that these sanctions were much too strong. "We cannot support measures … aimed at isolating Iran," declared Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov.

It is now clear that neither Moscow nor Beijing will ever agree to tough sanctions. What's more, even if they were to do so, it would not stop Iran, which is a country on a mission. As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put it: "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen…. The era of oppression, hegemonic regimes and tyranny and injustice has reached its end…. The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world." There is simply no possibility that Iran's clerical rulers will trade this ecstatic vision for a mess of Western pottage in the form of economic bribes or penalties.

So if sanctions won't work, what's left? The overthrow of the current Iranian regime might offer a silver bullet, but with hard-liners firmly in the saddle in Tehran, any such prospect seems even more remote today than it did a decade ago, when students were demonstrating and reformers were ascendant.
At least Muravchik takes ground invasion off the table. You know, given that regime change is an impossibility, deleting "regime change" from our official policy towards Iran might be a diplomatic tool (not that Muravchik has heard of such things).
Meanwhile, the completion of Iran's bomb grows nearer every day.
...but is still approximately ten years off in the future, according to the same editorial page that printed this op-ed.
Our options therefore are narrowed to two: We can prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, or we can use force to prevent it. Former ABC newsman Ted Koppel argues for the former, saying that "if Iran is bound and determined to have nuclear weapons, let it." We should rely, he says, on the threat of retaliation to keep Iran from using its bomb. Similarly, Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria points out that we have succeeded in deterring other hostile nuclear states, such as the Soviet Union and China.

And in these pages, William Langewiesche summed up the what-me-worry attitude when he wrote that "the spread of nuclear weapons is, and always has been, inevitable," and that the important thing is "learning how to live with it after it occurs."

But that's whistling past the graveyard. The reality is that we cannot live safely with a nuclear-armed Iran. One reason is terrorism, of which Iran has long been the world's premier state sponsor, through groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Now, according to a report last week in London's Daily Telegraph, Iran is trying to take over Al Qaeda by positioning its own man, Saif Adel, to become the successor to the ailing Osama bin Laden. How could we possibly trust Iran not to slip nuclear material to terrorists?
Well we could always trace the source of the nuclear material. That would enhance our deterrence threat.
Koppel says that we could prevent this by issuing a blanket warning that if a nuclear device is detonated anywhere in the United States, we will assume Iran is responsible. But would any U.S. president really order a retaliatory nuclear strike based on an assumption?
Op-eds that are filled with rhetorical questions are generally filled with crap. Also, as noted above, if we are able to trace the origin of the nuclear material or trace the path the bomb took in more traditional ways, any retaliatory nuclear strike would be based on fact, rather than assumption.
Another reason is that an Iranian bomb would constitute a dire threat to Israel's 6 million-plus citizens. Sure, Israel could strike back, but Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who was Ahmadinejad's "moderate" electoral opponent, once pointed out smugly that "the use of an atomic bomb against Israel would totally destroy Israel, while [the same] against the Islamic world would only cause damage. Such a scenario is not inconceivable." If that is the voice of pragmatism in Iran, would you trust deterrence against the messianic Ahmadinejad?
Not to be a cold-hearted bastard, but Israel is not part of the United States. They are an ally with their own nuclear arsenal and can take care of themselves. And as for Rafsanjani, he also said "We have no problems with Jews and highly respect Judaism as a holy religion."
Even if Iran did not drop a bomb on Israel or hand one to terrorists, its mere possession of such a device would have devastating consequences. Coming on top of North Korea's nuclear test, it would spell finis to the entire nonproliferation system.
As I see it, this is the real danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon - the precedent that it creates for the rest of the world.
And then there is a consequence that seems to have been thought about much less but could be the most harmful of all: Tehran could achieve its goal of regional supremacy. Jordan's King Abdullah II, for instance, has warned of an emerging Shiite "crescent." But Abdullah's comment understates the danger. If Iran's reach were limited to Shiites, it would be constrained by their minority status in the Muslim world as well as by the divisions between Persians and Arabs.

But such ethnic-based analysis fails to take into account Iran's charisma as the archenemy of the United States and Israel and the leverage it achieves as the patron of radicals and rejectionists. Given that, the old assumptions about Shiites and Sunnis may not hold any longer. Iran's closest ally today is Syria, which is mostly Sunni. The link between Tehran and Damascus is ideological, not theological. Similarly, Iran supports the Palestinian groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which are overwhelmingly Sunni (and as a result, Iran has grown popular in the eyes of Palestinians).
First, it's ludicrous to believe that ideology and theology can be separate. Second, Syria, while overwhelmingly Sunni, it is run by a Shi'ite (Alawite) government - any attempt to characterize its foreign relations as "Sunni" is dishonest. Third, Iran is a country of 70 million people, as many as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined (in the region, only Egypt has a higher population, 80 million). Between its population and oil reserves, it will be the significant regional player whether it has a nuclear weapon or not.
During the Lebanon war this summer, we saw how readily Muslims closed ranks across the Sunni-Shiite divide against a common foe (even as the two groups continued killing each other in Iraq). In Sunni Egypt, newborns were named "Hezbollah" after the Lebanese Shiite organization and "Nasrallah" after its leader. As Muslim scholar Vali Nasr put it: "A flurry of anti-Hezbollah [i.e., anti-Shiite] fatwas by radical Sunni clerics have not diverted the admiring gaze of Arabs everywhere toward Hezbollah."
Lebanese support for Hezbollah is not only amongst Muslims, but also significant amongst Christians and Druze, as this poll shows. Thus, characterizing it as "Iran ganging up with its fellow Muslims" is inaccurate. Many in Iran frame the conflict equally as imperialists versus natives.
In short, Tehran can build influence on a mix of ethnicity and ideology, underwritten by the region's largest economy. Nuclear weapons would bring regional hegemony within its reach by intimidating neighbors and rivals and stirring the admiration of many other Muslims.
As I stated earlier, Iran has regional hegemony within its reach with or without nuclear weapons.
This would thrust us into a new global struggle akin to the one we waged so painfully with the Soviet Union for 40-odd years. It would be the "clash of civilizations" that has been so much talked about but so little defined.
When Muravchik says "so much talked about," he really means "that we neoconservatives dream about at night." However, as Doug Muder, says, the struggle is in reality a struggle between extremists and moderates, rather than between Christians and Muslims.
Iran might seem little match for the United States, but that is not how Ahmadinejad sees it. He and his fellow jihadists believe that the Muslim world has already defeated one infidel superpower (the Soviet Union) and will in time defeat the other.

Russia was poor and weak in 1917 when Lenin took power, as was Germany in 1933 when Hitler came in.
Both Russia and Germany had been Great Powers in 1914, and both were uniquely poised to return to Great Power status. Anyone who argues that Iran is a Great Power will be laughed at.
Neither, in the end, was able to defeat the United States, but each of them unleashed unimaginable suffering before they succumbed. And despite its weakness, Iran commands an asset that neither of them had: a natural advantage in appealing to the world's billion-plus Muslims.
To assert that the Soviet Union had no "natural advantages" to appealing to populations outside its own borders is laughable. Wasn't that the whole theme of neoconservatives before 1991 - that Communists were everywhere because their ideology was so attractive? Also, Iran's natural advantage only exists because a) of the total lack of public diplomacy by the United States, and b) the United States' support for policies that can be perceived as anti-Muslim (perception matters more than reality in these cases).
If Tehran establishes dominance in the region, then the battlefield might move to Southeast Asia or Africa or even parts of Europe, as the mullahs would try to extend their sway over other Muslim peoples. In the end, we would no doubt win, but how long this contest might last and what toll it might take are anyone's guess.
Didn't Muravchik get the memo? The battlefield already is in Europe, and it has less to do with Iran and more to do with our ally, Saudi Arabia.
The only way to forestall these frightening developments is by the use of force. Not by invading Iran as we did Iraq, but by an air campaign against Tehran's nuclear facilities. We have considerable information about these facilities; by some estimates they comprise about 1,500 targets. If we hit a large fraction of them in a bombing campaign that might last from a few days to a couple of weeks, we would inflict severe damage. This would not end Iran's weapons program, but it would certainly delay it.
Iran is already ten years away from a nuclear weapon, if they are trying to build one at all. I do not understand why we need to kill people in order to delay them further, when everybody acknowledges that this is not even a real solution. I also do not agree that the only way to forestall an Iranian bomb is by force - using force will merely encourage Iran to speed up any potential nuclear weapons program they have, just like Israeli action at Osirak did.

What should be the timing of such an attack? If we did it next year, that would give time for U.N. diplomacy to further reveal its bankruptcy yet would come before Iran will have a bomb in hand (and also before our own presidential campaign). In time, if Tehran persisted, we might have to do it again.
Can President Bush take such action after being humiliated in the congressional elections and with the Iraq war having grown so unpopular? Bush has said that history's judgment on his conduct of the war against terror is more important than the polls. If Ahmadinejad gets his finger on a nuclear trigger, everything Bush has done will be rendered hollow. We will be a lot less safe than we were when Bush took office.
Ahmadinejad will not have his finger on a nuclear trigger, because the President of Iran is not the commander in chief of the Iranian military - the Supreme Leader, Khamenei, is.
Finally, wouldn't such a U.S. air attack on Iran inflame global anti-Americanism? Wouldn't Iran retaliate in Iraq or by terrorism? Yes, probably. That is the price we would pay. But the alternative is worse.

After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, a single member of Britain's Cabinet, Winston Churchill, appealed for robust military intervention to crush the new regime. His colleagues weighed the costs — the loss of soldiers, international derision, revenge by Lenin — and rejected the idea.

The costs were avoided, and instead the world was subjected to the greatest man-made calamities ever. Communism itself was to claim perhaps 100 million lives, and it also gave rise to fascism and Nazism, leading to World War II. Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him.
Communism did not cause fascism or Nazism. That is just silly.

Many neoconservatives insist on seeing the world through the prism of Munich 1938. The reality is that Ahmadinejad is not Hitler and is not the dictator of Germany. Iran, unlike Germany in 1933, has no extra-territorial ambitions.

Similarly, Islam is not Communism, and is not a great evil to be defeated. There is no "Clash of Civilizations." The "War on Terror" is not the new Cold War. Al Qaeda will never threaten the existence of the United States or the existence of humanity.

Muravchik's logic goes like this:
Iran is making a bomb --> they must be stopped --> non-coercive measures haven't worked yet --> coercive measures will work --> we must bomb Iran.

My logic goes like this:
Iran may or may not be making a bomb --> let's not kill people until we know wtf is going on.

I bow down to the conservative victors.

In their push to win back control of the House, Democrats have turned to conservative and moderate candidates who fit the profiles of their districts more closely than the profile of the national party.
Democrats take a more centrist tack.

A couple reporters interview a bunch of conserative and centrist Democrats who say that the Dems are going to/have won the 06 elections because of them. What a surprise.

Guns advocate Sen.-elect Jon Tester is part of a new crop of Democrats who could push the party more toward the center.
If it walks, talks like a conservative, can it be a Dem?

Let's examine Tester's conservatism. From his issues page:
Jon Tester trusts the women of Montana to make their own medical decisions in consultation with her family, doctor and God. The politicians in Washington shouldn't interfere with this very personal and difficult decision.

In the U.S. Senate, Jon will fight to end America's addiction to foreign oil, by investing in bio-fuel technology and wind power development, creating a national renewable standard and promoting energy efficiency and conservation.

In the U.S. Senate, Jon Tester will support funding for Indian Health Services, Indian housing, Tribal colleges and job training programs.

In the U.S. Senate, Jon Tester will stand up to big insurance companies and support a health care plan that makes health care affordable for all Montanans.

Tester believes we need to enforce the law on employers who hire illegal immigrants no matter who they are. It's not just a matter of fairness — it's a question of national security.
[i.e. no deportation, no national ID card, no "english only" laws, etc.]

Jon Tester supports paying workers a fair, livable wage. As President of the Montana Senate in 2005, Jon Tester voted for a bill that would raise the Montana minimum wage to $6 an hour by July 2006.

Jon Tester supports ensuring the long-term solvency of Social Security and does not support privatization.

Montana values mean doing everything you can to help a sick neighbor. By voting against stem cell research, Sen. Burns has clearly lost his way. Jon Tester believes we need to devote every possible idea and every possible resource to curing degenerative diseases.
John Tester is definitely not a conservative. A lot of this "Democrats won because they were more conservative" meme I think comes from people like Rahm Emmanuel and other conservative Democrats who want to take credit for the midterms victory, and who don't want Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi controlling Congress because they are seen as too "liberal". I don't know if it comes from ideological differences or an honest belief that politicians perceived as liberals can't win. It's the same mindset that says "if only Democrats were a little more like Republicans, they could win the 'moderate voter'." And reporters swallow it like Rush pops pain pills.

Scary Muslims!

I've never heard of "Investor's Business Daily," but they ran a pretty funny editorial on Thursday. It makes perfect sense, if you proceed from the following assumptions:

Muslim = terrorist

Any politician who has received Muslim votes = the enemy

Anyone who disapproves of President Bush = the enemy (gosh, that'd be 69% of Americans!)

A couple choice quotes:

Expect Conyers and Pelosi to kick open the doors of Congress to Islamists from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other militant groups...

During the first Gulf War, for instance, Conyers fought FBI outreach efforts in the Arab and Muslim community in Detroit that were designed to gather intelligence on potential cells and protect the home front... Today, Hamas, Hezbollah and the al-Qaida-tied Muslim Brotherhood are all active in the area.

Conyers took $5000 from the Arab-American Leadership PAC. If he's in bed with them, he must also be in bed with the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, Anheuser-Busch, the American Federation of Teachers, Boilermakers Union, and of course, the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office, all of whom also donated $5000 to his campaign, not to mention the 18 organizations that gave more than $5000.

Apparently people believe this stuff. It's hard to come up with anything to say about crap like this that's so off the wall. I think Borat is really the only person that can talk to these people.

Final thought - GWOT™ is a struggle against extremists... on both sides. Ours empower theirs and vice versa.


Winning feels good... until you look around and realize that now you gotta clean this crap up. It's like winning a house that's been trashed by drunken fratboys (wait, maybe it IS winning a house that's been trashed by drunken fratboys).

Going forward, will the Democrats choose Reform or Revenge?

We goofed Iraq ==> bomb Iran

Operation Comeback, by Joshua Muravchik

How to Cut and Run, by General Bill Odom

Third and Final Act, by William S. Lind

Falling Away With You, by Muse

Joshua Muravchik, a self-declared neoconservative, declares that he knows how to save neoconservatism from its utter failure over the past six years. His strategy? Admit mistakes, utilize public diplomacy, bomb Iran, and convince Joe Lieberman to partner a(nother) neocon for a presidential run in 2008.

The mistakes he lists are puzzling. First, he prefaces his admonitions of guilt with the obligatory "the War on Terra is important," and it requires "sacrifice" on the level of the Cold War. The only things the American people have sacrificed so far in the GWOT are their civil liberties - in that respect, it kind of is like the Cold War (COINTELPRO, etc) minus, of course, the tens of thousands of American casualties in Korea and Vietnam. Did I mention how ironic it is for a neoconservative so worshipful of democracy abroad to be so unconcerned about the dangers to it posed at home? It's almost as if what actually mattered was the perception of democracy...

Anyways, the mistakes listed are "they didn't greet us as liberators - whoops!" and "OK I guess it's important to have boots on the ground after all." The first mistake doesn't shake his fundamental belief that inside the soul of every human being there is a democrat just bursting to break out. As for the second, how ironic that Muravchik believes (or maybe he's just exercising some "public diplomacy") that it was for smaller defense budgets that neoconservatives fought for their bloated Star Wars and national missile defense ("We may have seized on a technological fix to spare ourselves the hard slog of fighting for higher defense budgets..."). But I suppose history is just another casualty of the War on Terror.

Muravchik also believes that America should fight the information war. This is common sense, although he approaches it from the "America is encircled by enemies - if only they had the truth" perspective rather than acknowledging that their perception of truth is as valid as ours. You aren't going to convert anyone away from their anti-Americanism by lecturing them.

Finally, the meat of Muravchik's idea of "saving" neoconservatism - bombing Iran. He doesn't address the contradictions between his admittance of mistakes in Iraq due to too few troops on the ground, and his idea of using pure air power to attack Iran. Instead, the rational is "imagine if they had nukes!" which relies on falsely conflating Iran with al Qaeda, and also necessitates bombing Iran every couple years until they are a flourishing democracy (because outside attackers are in a superb position to encourage democratic reform).

Enter Bill Lind (stage Right, but not as Right as Muravchik). Whereas Muravchik's worries about the counterattacks from the press and from the Democratic Party, Lind worries about the counterattacks from... Iran. "Unbeatable militaries are like unsinkable ships. They are unsinkable until someone or something sinks them." The irony is that the American Army has already been beaten once (Vietnam, not counting Gulf War I, which was also failure to achieve the political objective). Lind points out that the American Army is a sitting duck in Iraq, with its supply lines exposed. That means, if we bomb Iran, we see a LOT more of this.

Enter General Odom (stage center-right), who, by using that age-old tactic of common sense, realizes a) the United States is in a strategically untenable position for the reasons that Lind laid out, and b) the United States has common interests with Iran. We both want a stable Iraq, we both dislike al Qaeda and the Taliban (Iran helped us out in Afghanistan originally), and we both want to pump more oil.

There you have it - America's strategic interests conflicts with neoconservative ideology. Even when it is laid out in plain English, neoconservatives seem too blinded by their ideology to allow for any "Plan B." Because while Muravchik might admit to mistakes, that doesn't mean he, or neoconservatives in general, will ever learn from them.

Enter Muse:

so i'll love whatever you become
and forget the reckless things we've done
i think our lives have just begun
i think our lives have just begun

all of the love we threw away
all of the hopes we cherished fade
making the same mistakes again
making the same mistakes again

all of the love we've left behind
watching the flash backs intertwine
memories i will never find
memories i will never find

Kerry shouldn't botch his jokes, Bush shouldn't botch his wars

So the Revs are coming to DC for the Eastern Conference Championship at exactly the time when I am flying back to Boston for a doctor's appointment (the kind that can't be moved, period).

A tad frustrating.

In real news, Senator Kerry said:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Kerry apparently meant to say "you get us stuck in Iraq," which would have meant that the references to being lazy and uncurious would refer to Bush rather than American military personnel. The missing "us" opened Kerry up to more attacks of "you don't support the troops! (Let's forget for a moment that Kerry is a veteran and Tony Snow, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh and Bush are not.)" But perhaps Kerry's slip was Freudian - let's look at whether what he actually said is true.

Question: Would Steven Green had been admitted in the Army ten years ago?

Answer: Probably not.

The U.S. Army has had to lower recruiting standards because fewer people want to serve their country by dying in Iraq for an unrealistic goal, while going without body armor and having their veterans benefits cut to boot. Consequently, the Army lowers its standards until it gets the numbers. Common sense.

Another casualty in this war - the American military. Right now, it's the 44,780th non-mortal casualty.

BTW - Kerry's fighting back:
"I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium or doughy (talk-show host) Rush Limbaugh."
My take: Kerry shouldn't botch his jokes, and Bush shouldn't botch his wars.

Revs beat Chicago in MLS playoffs

Here are the highlights.

What a game. Revolution started out a goal behind due to the 1-0 first leg defeat in Chicago. They were also missing Shalrie Joseph (BS suspension) and Clint Dempsey (sprained ankle). They then dug themselves a bigger hole by letting Nate Jaqua slip in and score in the 18th minute to make it 2-0 for Chicago in the aggregate goals.

Jose Manuel Abundis was taken down by Dasan Robinson in the penalty box (Robinson fell down and grabbed Abundis' ankle with his hand, no call), and Twellman missed a sitter but made up for it by scoring in the 41th off a cross from Joey Franchino, who burned Jaqua, got to the byline (who the hell thought Franchino could burn anyone and get to the byline) and slipped a ball to Twellman who knocked it in.

Halftime, Abundis came off an Noonan came on to replace him. Pat Noonan had hernia surgery two weeks ago. Fifteen minutes into the half, Jay Heaps sent in a long cross, Twellman nodded it down, Dorman laid it off for Franchino who hit it first time, Chris Armas blocked it and Pat Noonan slotted in the rebound.

There were chances for the rest of the game for both teams, but both goalkeepers, Matt Reis for the Revs and Matt Pickens for Chicago, were on their game. Larentowicz was subbed off for Khano Smith's speed, Ralston was injured and was subbed off for Cancela, then Dorman and Franchino also both got injured, but the Revs were out of subs so they hobbled around gamely. Twellman then moved back to defensive midfield to give them cover. The Revs pride themselves on character and this game showed why.

In extra time, both teams were too exhausted to do anything. Khano Smith and Pepe Cancela had a couple chances but Pickens came up with great saves. On to penalty kicks!
Matt Reis saved two out of three penalty kicks he faced this year. The third one was I believe against the Crew, where the ball took a skip on the turf and bounced over Reis' hand - otherwise it would have been 3-3. In the 2004 playoffs, Reis saved two penalties in a single game. Advantage, Revs.

Reis saved Thiago's opening PK. Then, Cancela buried his penalty. When Cancela didn't chip his penalty to the keeper's left like he has every single other penalty I've seen him take, I knew the Revs had practiced this and would win it.

Reis then saved Ivan Guerrero's (of "Shalrie Joseph tried to keeeel me!" fame) penalty. Reis turns around to the Fort, raises his arms, then turns around to Guerrero and says "REPORT THAT."

Joey Franchino is hardly my favorite player on the team but his heart and character really shown through last night. He showed why Nicol made him club captain. He sums it up:

There was kind of a sense that we knew we would do it. I don’t know how to explain it but everyone knew it. We just kept going and going and we knew it was going to come. Even when we hit the post, we never let down. That’s the way this team is: never say die.

And Stevie Nicol:

“I’ve been saying all along the players got balls, and they showed them tonight."
After the game, Jay Heaps and some other Revs players tore down a banner that had been hanging on the stadium and ran around the field with it. It said "FREE SHALRIE."

Shalrie Joseph suspended for Revs

Andrew Hush and Frank Dell'Appa express themselves with far more civility than I am wont to do at this point in time.

The quality of play in MLS has risen consistently over the years, but the quality of the league's administration is still Mickey Mouse.

Revolution top ten goals from 2006 (regular season)


Halloween is coming, so the GOP decided to get an early start with this ad. It's a tacky one-minute long "terrists gonna gitcha!" type ad.

Olbermann smacked it down in a special comment (10:30 long).

Let's revisit something from 2004, way back when.

Instructions. For Questions 1 and 2, assume you are a violent extremist. In other words, there is some issue (it doesn't really matter what) for which you are willing to take up arms and kill people, even innocent people.

Question 1: What is the first and biggest obstacle between you and victory?

...The first and biggest obstacle to your victory is that the vast majority of the people who sympathize with your issue are not violent extremists...

Question 2: In radicalizing your sympathizers, who is your best ally?

...In radicalizing your apathetic sympathizers, you have no better ally than the violent extremists on the other side . Only they can convince your people that compromise is impossible. Only they can raise your countrymen's level of fear and despair to the point that large numbers are willing to take up arms and follow your lead...

Perversely, this means that you are the best ally of the extremists on the other side. That doesn't mean you love or even talk to each other -- they are, after all, vile and despicable demons. But at this stage in the process your interests align. (Emphasis added.)

From "Terrorist Strategy 101", by Doug Muder.

Being Thomas Friedman

This is too funny to ignore.

Unrelated - it seems that blogger hates Firefox, but likes IE. This annoys me.

MLS Playoffs

Revs traveled to Chicago today and lost 1-0. They play the return leg of the home-and-home series on Saturday at 7pm. The series is decided by total goals, so essentially halftime is a week long.

Shalrie Joseph played his first game in over a month. He was out while his nerves and tendons regrew in his hand - he was in the wrong place at the wrong time in a nightclub "altercation" as he was pushed from behind, landed with his hand on some broken glass, and then had someone step on his hand. He was still wearing a big cast. Medically it was probably a stupid decision on his part to play, as he was risking permanent loss of feeling in that hand, but Shalrie knows European clubs like Celtic are watching him.

What hurts more than the Chicago goal (which is Andy Dorman's fault for ducking out of the way of Justin Mapp's free kick) is Clint Dempsey spraining his ankle. Bad news. My guess for a Deuceless Revolution lineup is:


My hope would be:

Six minute video of the 101st in Iraq, from the Guardian.

We can train as many Iraqi Army units as we want - the question is "who are they loyal to?"

A genius ad.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Many have complained that the DNC has not run enough advertisement nationalizing this election, and that we're not pushing the brand "Democrats" hard enough. Well, check out this ad. Couldn't find a link on, but it does say "paid for by the Democratic National Committee."

Short, to the point, and bandwagons on that incredibly annoying "Head On" ad.

Hattip to Sam the Eagle.

"Why Not Let Them Hate Us, as long as They Fear Us"

Go read Why Not Let Them Hate Us, as long as They Fear Us, over at No Quarter.

We are losing/have lost the information war between us (USA, the West, etc) and Al Qaeda. The same crew that could convince millions of poor Americans to support tax cuts for rich people can't convince the Middle East that it's better to become rich than a martyr. The society that can convince people to pay $800 for a flippin bag can't convince Jordanians that blowing up civilians is bad (do as I say, not as I do!).

...since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.

Machiavelli has an excuse for being wrong - he has been dead for five hundred years. The current neo-cons have no such excuse (much as I might wish otherwise). I mean, in the age of super-empowered individuals, when Bill Gates is richer than Kuwait, how can it NOT matter if millions of people hate you? The central failure of the "better to be feared than loved" maxim is that individuals and non-state actors don't have to fear anything because that are unaccountable to state power. Example A: Where's Osama? Hiding, yes, but alive and still able to communicate. Small states feared big states back in Machiavelli's time because small states could be crushed by big states. States can not go into hiding. Individuals, as bin Laden and Zawahiri, or Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, can. When you combine unaccountability with super-empowerment AND the plummeting cost of destructive power (the 9/11 attacks cost at most $500,000; the Oklahoma City truck bomb was probably cheaper), clearly public diplomacy and opinion formation will matter more than conventional force.

A college kid gets this and the most powerful elected official in the world does not.

Perhaps its a sign that Frank Zappa's "Dumb All Over" started playing (on shuffle) just as I was finishing up this post.

When it rains it pours

Haven't blogged about football lately. Over the weekend, Chelsea visited Reading and won 1-0 on an own goal. The real story though happened in the first minute and the last minute.

After 16 seconds, Reading forward Stephen Hunt smashed his knee into Chelsea keeper Petr Cech's head. Here's the video. Reading manager Steve Coppell says there was no intent. Maybe he's right. But it's clear that Hunt made no attempt to avoid any collision.

Cech had surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull.

So Carlo Cudicini came on to replace Cech and played for the whole game, up until he was taken out by Reading forward Ibrahim Sonko. Here's the video. Sonko makes no attempt at the ball. Cudicini was unconscious before he hit the ground. The thing that really bugs me about this one is that the ref doesn't immediately stop the game when Cudicini hits the deck and stops moving.

Somehow, some football pundits are blaming Cudicini for not preemptively taking out Sonko:

The clash with Ibrahima Sonko that led to Cech's replacement, Carlo Cudicini, being carried off was more straightforward. Twenty years ago, it would never have happened. Then, goalkeepers operated on the Julius Caesar principle. They came, they saw, they took everyone out, including sometimes their own defenders. The Italian is not the biggest of goalkeepers and nor is he the best at coming for crosses. Sonko's was a totally legitimate challenge and Cudicini was not as strong as he might have been.

Because we all know that English boxing football twenty years ago was great, right?

The good news is that Cudicini only suffered a concussion, and should be back in training in a few weeks.

John Terry finished the game in goal, with Didier Drogba playing a decent central defender.

Now the 3rd string keeper, Hilario, will face Barcelona today. Before these injuries, he would have been lucky to face Yeovil Town in the FA Cup, and now he gets to face Ronaldihno, Eto'o, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Messi, and the champions of Europe. I don't envy him... but I'd rather be in his shoes than those of Cudicini or Cech.

Update: One nil to the Blues.

Iraq: Botched vs Doomed?

More evidence for botched: apparently a significant number of high-level decision makers don't know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.

"Therefore I say: 'Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.
When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.
If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.'"

Sun Tzu, Art of War.

"Such people are called 'mad bandits'. What can they expect if not defeat?"

Li Ch'üan, commentary on Art of War.

Madame President

Just got back from a talk by the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She talked about building Liberia back up to a normal society after 20 years of civil war.

She opened the talk by drawing comparisons between the United States founders and Liberia's founders in 1847. Americans fled religious persecution in Europe, Liberians fled American slavery (when she said slavery the word cracked like a whip). Both sets of founders disregarded indigenous peoples. 'Both sets of founders' beliefs were flawed, but we admire them for their courage.' (Paraphrasing).

Basic points - elementary and vocational education, leading to job opportunities for the thousands of former child-soldiers who have no employable skills, financial controls on corporations so they don't loot Liberia like they have since 1980, empowering women (EJS's primary constituency is market women), and building up the country's security forces to ensure basic security once the UN peacekeepers leave.

After the talk she took open questions from the audience (imagine that). One question was from a member of the Georgetown faculty, saying that she was a member of the Peace Corps in the 1970s in Liberia in Lofa County, and asking whether the Peace Corps was coming back. The President said that the machinery is already in motion for the Peace Corps to come back to Liberia, and that she has requested lots and lots of teachers.

President Johnson-Sirleaf is an excellent public speaker. All seats were taken (Gaston Hall probably seats about 400 people). She speaks slowly, so you're able to concentrate on what she's saying, and her voice has a very hard edge, although surprisingly she mispronounced a few words (although she did go to Harvard, not Brown). She exudes an aura of authority. When compared to our president... it's clear why her nickname is the "Iron Lady" and our Presidents' is "Shrub".

Making fun of other people

Sure it's not mature or "constructive" but who cares, it's funny.

Lightbulb jokes, and Bill Maher.

"So many of our kids these days are fat drug addicts it's almost as if Rush Limbaugh had puppies."
- Bill Maher

"How many NeoCons does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Only liberals believe it’s dark."
- Moi.

The Daddy Party will keep you safe! Unless you're a Democrat...

DHS released the numbers (pdf) of who's getting how much 2006 funding for, among other things, port security. Interesting to see some of the numbers:

Apparently, Boston, one of the nation's busiest ports and one of the few that has giant LNG tanks right next to heavily populated areas, is lower on the priorities list than:

Green Bay, WI (Republican Rep running for Governor); Mount Vernon, IN (GOP Rep, 1 GOP Senator); Portland, ME (Dem Rep, but 2 GOP Senators); Portsmouth, NH (GOP Rep and 2 GOP Senators); Mobile, AL (GOP Rep and 2 GOP Senators); St. Paul, MN (GOP Rep running for Senate, GOP Senator).

"Republicans are playing pork barrel politics with homeland security. There is no other way to explain why Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo in Huntsville, Alabama, was classified as "critical infrastructure" by DHS, while the Port of Boston is under-funded."

Rep Stephen Lynch, at Ed Markey's website.

leet art skillz

This Penny Arcade comic reminded me of Bush's foreign policy in Iraq. Just change Gabe to Bush and Tycho to "Rest of the World."


Following up on what was unacceptable back in September - it's still unacceptable, but now, worse.

Notice to the world

MR. RUSSERT: Knowing what you know today, knowing what you know today, that Saddam did not have the weapons of destruction that our intelligence agencies thought he had, if you knew that today, would you still vote for the war?

SEN. TALENT: Well, yeah, I mean, I think...

MR. RUSSERT: You still would?

SEN. TALENT: was the—I think it was the only possible strategic choice. Look, Saddam had been an organic threat in the region for a long time. He represented a threat to us. That threat is now gone. Tim, look at what’s not happening.

MR. RUSSERT: But Senator, isn’t it an important question: if, if, if the CIA said to you, “Saddam does not have weapons of biological, chemical, or a nuclear program,” you would still vote for the war?

SEN. TALENT: Well, he wanted them.

Meet the Press, October 8, 2006.

Notice to the President Bush - I want some nukes. Invade me. I dare you. Just like you are going to invade North Korea for pursuing nukes. Or is that not your only criteria for invasion? Figures why you want to strike Iran...

A Republican Senator thinks invading Iraq was the "only strategic choice." I wonder why Americans have stopped trusting the Daddy Party on national security and terrorism anymore.

David Brooks iz dum

This is a tale of two predators. The first is a congressman who befriended teenage pages. He sent them cajoling instant messages asking them to describe their sexual habits, so he could get his jollies.

The second is a secretary, who invited a 13-year-old girl from her neighborhood into her car and kissed her. Then she invited the girl up to her apartment, gave her some vodka, took off her underwear and gave her a satin teddy to wear.

Then she had sex with the girl, which was interrupted when the girl’s mother called. Then she made the girl masturbate in front of her and taught her some new techniques.

The first predator, of course, is Mark Foley, the Florida congressman. The second predator is a character in Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues.”


By the rules of expressive individualism, Ensler’s characters did nothing wrong... But there’s another and older code, and people seem to be returning to this older code to judge Mark Foley.
David Brooks - A Tear in our Fabric.

Apparently the Vagina Monologues was part of a tear in the fabric of our society. And how hypocritical is it for people to judge fictional characters by one standard, and judge actual people by a totally different standard!
Man, once somebody finds a Republican Congressman that has sex with horses, David Brooks is really going to call out the liberals on their hypocrisy for Equus.

More thoughts on Foley

As I was walking to the grocery store today, I had a brilliant thought.

Who are basically the only people left supporting President Bush and the Republican leadership? (other than elites with a stake in the game)?

1) Republicans who don't pay attention to the news/think the news is liberally biased;
2) Hard-Right Christians who think Bush is sent by god, etc etc.
(note - not scientific, but this is a blog, I can bloviate all I want.)

Now this Mark Foley sex scandal will hit both these groups hard. The first group will be hit because GAY SEX!!!!!111 is front page on all the newspapers and the broadcast news, and the second group will be hit because there ain't nothin hard-Right Christians hate more than t3h GAY SEX.

Thoughts on the Foley debacle

Background - Congressman Mark Foley, R-Florida, resigned because a bunch of "inappropriate" emails and IMs he sent 16 year old male Congressional pages turned up in public. Foley headed the House Caucus on missing and exploited children.

Man, nothing like a Congressional sex scandal to bring all the reporters out of hibernation at CNN.

Where were these guys last week when Congress voted away the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments? Where was Paul Begala's "law firm of Smith & Wesson" and his "12-gauge" when his party lay down and let the government torture?

Ohhh, but bring gay sex into the picture and people go nuts. Nobody got this angry when Abramoff bought the government, or when Bush joked about how he lied to get us into Iraq, or when the New York Times revealed that the NSA spies on Americans without a warrant, or when we learned that Americans had tortured people to death. And if/when we strike Iran on some trumped-up charge of WMD or whatever, I am betting that Begala won't mention his lawfirm of Smith & Wesson then either. Because, although we might kill innocent people in the most painful, sadistic and barbaric ways, at least it's not GAY SEX.

Iraq - doomed, or botched?

I happen to think botched. Bob Woodward gives me some ammo. Watch his CBS interview over at CrooksandLiars.

"That's two and a half years after the invasion of Iraq. They [Rice and Rumsfeld] cannot agree on the definition of the strategy."

I don't get it.

U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section. 2.

Clause 1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;

Washington Post:

"Included in the bill, passed by Republican majorities in the Senate yesterday and the House on Wednesday, are unique rules that bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment through traditional habeas corpus petitions."

Bill of Rights, Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Washington Post:

"The bill rejects the right to a speedy trial and limits the traditional right to self-representation by requiring that defendants accept military defense attorneys."

"By writing into law for the first time the definition of an "unlawful enemy combatant," the bill empowers the executive branch to detain indefinitely anyone it determines to have "purposefully and materially" supported anti-U.S. hostilities."

And to top it all off, from Wikiquote

"No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

I guess we have to destroy the Constitution in order to save it.

Filthy Communists.

Oh Darby.

Levels of Analysis

In my intro to Security Studies course, SEST-500, we're currently looking at levels of analysis - system level, state level, and sub-state level. Basically, systemic theories, like liberalism, say that states act in their own interest regardless of internal characteristics. State level theories, like the theory of democratic peace (democracies don't fight other democracies) put more weight on the internal characteristics of states. Sub-state level theories focus on either bureaucratic politics or the influence of individuals.

In light of Congress getting ready to cede yet more authority to the Bush administration for the cause of avoiding "soft-on-terror" ads during elections, it's interesting for me to look at this scenario in the view of both bureaucratic politics and individual influence.

Bureaucratic politics theory says that basically bureaucracies are imperialistic. In an article we had to read for class, Graham Allison looks at the Cuban Missile Crisis and shows how you could see the CIA, Air Force and Navy all fighting for the power/privilege of responding to the Cuban missiles, even at the expense of a coherent and effective national response. Under this model, you would expect Congress to avoid AT ALL COSTS ceding important powers to the Executive, including:
  • Rendering habeus corpus irrelevant
  • Rendering trial-by-jury irrelevant
  • Allowing the President and his appointees to decide who is an enemy combatant (and thus defining who benefits from Constitutional rights and who doesn't)
  • Removing actions of the Executive from the supervision of the Judiciary
An explanation for Congress' ceding of authority that would be consistent with bureaucratic politics would be that Congress believes that it is powerless to stop the Bush administration, and wishes to maintain the appearance of power by formally ceding these powers. I think that's bullshit - given Bush's low approval ratings (highest I've seen in the last year or so is 40%), as well as the reality of the Constitution (unitary executive theory is bullshit) Congress COULD stop Bush from grabbing this power for the Executive, but doesn't. Why?

An answer on the individual level of analysis would point to the individuals who fill Congress. Congressional leaders are sycophantic, corrupt and powerhungry, unwilling to criticize a fellow Republican, fearful of losing the far-Right Evangelical support (the only demographic left that supports Bush) and are brown-nosing the Bush Administration (oops, I mean "bandwagoning") in order to bask in Bush's Christ-annointed power.

An interesting question would be "which level of analysis is more pessimistic and cynical - systemic, which believes war is inevitable, or sub-state, which believes that wars arise out of individual choice?"

"Reality has a well-known liberal bias"

Parts of the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq has been leaked to the press. The general gist of the leak is that the American occupation of Iraq has made America less safe, because it creates more terrorists than we are able to kill.

Naturally, supporters of the Bush administration (examples: WSJ and Robert Kagan) cry that the leak was politically motivated by that den of liberals, the CIA. Apparently, since bin Ladin hated America before the Iraq invasion, that means that the entire Muslim world also hated us before the Iraq invasion, thus proving that the Iraq invasion keeps America safe, because we haven't been attacked since the Iraq invasion (other than 2700 dead American soldiers and 20,000 limbless ones).

Of course, the Bush administration doesn't want to consider the possibility that the CIA doesn't take its orders from Howard Dean. That would imply that both the CIA and Howard Dean base their opinions on some sort of objective "reality."

And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

"Chop Chop Square"

Read this editorial by Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, about what we should do to bin Ladin if we capture him.

Of course since bin Ladin may be dead anyways, this is all academic. (But most people think he's still alive.)

Jimmy Conrad's a classless piece of crap

So on August 9th, Kansas City Wizards at the Revolution, Dempsey and KC defender Jimmy Conrad go up for a 50/50 header. Dempsey goes in with his arms up, as I was taught to go in for headers to protect your own head. Conrad failed to do so, they collided, and Dempsey broke Conrad's jaw. Dempsey has since publically stated that it was unintentional. Conrad was out for a month, and tonight was his first game back. Earlier in the week, on a KC radio show, he said that if he had a chance to go after Dempsey, he would take it (ie he would try to intentionally injure Dempsey) during tonight's game with KC, which turned out to be a 1-1 draw.

Edit: Here's the link to a recording of Conrad's comments.

Well, Conrad was subbed on with 5 minutes left in the game, and he tried to intentionally injure Dempsey twice, once with a hip-check as Dempsey was in mid-stride, and once with a sliding tackle. No card from the ball-less MLS ref.

After the game, Revs assistant coach Paul Mariner had to physically restrain Dempsey after Deuce and Conrad (and KC defender Nick Garcia, who previous to today I thought was the dirtiest player on KC) had some words. Hard to blame Dempsey - Charlton Athletic puts in a $1.5 million dollar bid for him, and now Jimmy Conrad endangers his career for an accidental incident that Dempsey publically apologized for.

Hence, Jimmy Conrad is a classless piece of crap.

My strategy professor, Alan Gropman, likes to say that commanders should not wear two hats - for instance, being both theatre commander and ground forces commander.

This contraception fiasco is an example of many people - nurses, doctors, pharmacists - wearing multiple hats: the one of their actual job, and the second of judge/jury/god. "When I asked about what 'criteria' there was that I had to meet, the reply was, 'Well, he's kind of old fashioned'." The problem is not that he's old-fashioned - the problem is that he's judgemental and abusing his power by imposing his moral beliefs on others.
Today at Clinton's Global Initiative, the Whitehouse promised money to Africa.

Before the plenary session, First Lady Laura Bush announced a $10 million commitment from the United States government toward a $60 million project to install 4,000 water pumps across Africa that would help bring clean water to up to 10 million people on the continent by 2010.
New York Times, Sept 20, 2006

B-2 bomber:

Pricetag, $2,100,000,000
(FAS website)

"We're a generous country that has always reached out to feed the hungry, and rescue captives, and care for the sick. We are guided by the conviction of our founding -- that the Author of Life has endowed every life with matchless value."

Oooooh, $60 million. That's ALMOST half of one percent of a B-2 bomber! We truly ARE generous nation.
Drogba scores the goal of the season against Liverpool. 1-0 to the Blues and it would stay that way.

One nil! One nil! One nil!

John Yoo is a nub

The changes of the 1970’s occurred largely because we had no serious national security threats to United States soil.
John Yoo - How the Presidency Regained its Balance (h/t Greenwald)


Yoo finishes with:
Congress now must act to guide our counterterror policy, but it should
not try to micromanage the executive branch, particularly in war, where
flexibility of action is paramount.

Let's get this straight. This Congress has ignored the demostrable falsity of the "WMD" and "al-Qaeda" claims used to invade Iraq. It has basically ignored the outing of a covert CIA officer working on stopping WMD proliferation. It has abrogated oversight on intel on Iran's nuclear program. It has allowed the President to set up secret prisons abroad. It has allowed the President to engage in warrantless domestic surveillance.


Edit: How the hell do I keep the quoted text from going grey and barely readable?

At least Republicans aren't ACTUALLY Nazis

There have been a lot of Nazi metaphors thrown around lately. Rumsfeld says that those who don't support the President's foreign policy are morally and intellectually confused, and that the threat from al Qaeda is a "similar challenge" to that of Nazi Germany. Bush says that al Qaeda is the "successor" to Nazism. Keith Olbermann says that Rumsfeld is similar to Neville Chamberlain in his "certainty - and his own confusion." Recently, the Bush administration has also been insisting that Ahmadinejad/Iran are like Hitler/Germany. So confusing - how can there be so many Hitlers at once!? Iran, of course, called Bush Hitler right back. But as power-hungry, cynical, divisive and short-sighted as the Bush administration is, at least they aren't ACTUALLY Nazis, and at least American's don't elect real Nazis into Government. Germany, on the other hand...

In the next couple days, Germany is having regional parliament elections. In 2004, the National Democratic Party (NPD) won a seat in Saxony's parliament. Now NPD is poised to win seats again, in a different parliament, in Mecklenberg-Vorpommern. Both Länder (regions) are in the former DDR, which hasn't integrated well with West Germany. East Germany suffers from high unemployment and all its young people leave and move to West Germany. In Germany neo-Nazis are tied in to a lot of different social groups, including punk rock and soccer hooliganism. Neo-Nazi parties like the NPD consistently brought in around 1 or 2% of the vote the last couple decades, but this is an upward trend in their popularity in eastern Germany.

This is bad (duh). But I think it also might have ramifications for more of the former Communist Europe that is trying to integrate into the West and the EU. In Eastern Germany, Hungary, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and other eastern European nations, although the Red Army destroyed facism militarily, people's standard of living wasn't any higher under Communism than it was under facism (I'm talking about the survivors of both regimes). Thus, for certain people, facism as a political system might not have been totally discredited (it helps if you're rabidly anti-Semitic, as the NPD is - part of their platform is deportation of foreigners).

If it can happen in Germany, why not Hungary, which was also fascist during the 1930s and 40s? Or Slovakia? Well it is - Hungarians are being singled out in Slovakia, and Hungarian football fans chant "Give us southern Slovakia back"(1). A possible economic meltdown in Eastern Europe could further convince eastern Europeans that liberal democracy is a failure along with Communism. That would result in more real Nazis, not the fake ones that the Bush Administration sees everywhere.

Update: It happened.

(1) Simon Kuper's Football Against the Enemy.

Reality bites

These propositions are items in a political programme disguised as statements of fact; and the utopian inhabits a dreamworld of such 'facts', remote from the world of reality where quite contrary facts may be observed. The realist has no difficulty in perceiving that these utopian propositions are not facts bu t aspirations, and belong to the optative not to the indicative mood; and he goes on to show that, considered as aspirations, they are not a priori propositions, but are rooted in the world of reality in a way which the utopian altogether fails to understand.
E. H. Carr, The Twenty Year's Crisis to:

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Ron Suskin, New York Times, Without a Doubt, October 17, 2004.

It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq. If current trends continue, our counter-insurgent campaign in Iraq will be fit to be mentioned in the same breath as the British victory over a Communist insurgency in Malaysia in the 1950s, a textbook example of this form of war.
Rich Lowry, What Went Right, National Review, May 9th, 2005.
is to:

More than 200 Iraqis, most of them policemen or soldiers, have been killed in the last eight days in one of the most lethal stretches of violence since the invasion two years ago.
Richard A. Oppel Jr., Insurgents Kill 26 More Iraqis; Tentative Deal on Completing Cabinet Is Reported
. May 7th, 2005.


Unfortunately I haven't taken this class... yet.
If a nuclear-free Iraq graduates from President Bush's "axis of evil" list, could Georgetown University gain admission?

I am taking SEST-500, Theory and Practice of Security, which everyone has to take their first year. I am also taking SEST-541, The Evolution of Strategic Thought, and SEST-582, The Politics of European Security. I'll write more about these classes later.