December 10, 2006
SKEPTICISM ABOUT THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP DIPLOMATIC PROPOSALS, from the editorial board of The Washington Post.
SKEPTICISM ABOUT THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP DIPLOMATIC PROPOSALS, from the editorial board of The Washington Post.
MORE ON THE FLYING IMAMS, in the Star Tribune.
KEN LIVINGSTONE: Zionist?
It’s a sad day when Livingstone’s sounding better than Jimmy Carter . . . .
MORE PRAGER FALLOUT: “Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch has called for Dennis Prager to resign or be removed from United States Holocaust Memorial Council, in response to the punditâ€™s recent insistence that a Muslim congressman should not be sworn in using a Quran.” Prager, says Koch, is a schmuck.
LITVINENKO UPDATE: The spy who knew too much.
MICHAEL FUMENTO: The real Ramadi stands up.
MORE ON YALE AND ALITO, from David Lat.
I LINKED TO THE U.S. ARMY SURVIVAL MANUAL the other day. It’s pretty cheap in printed form, but reader Richard Kemmer notes: “You might want to pass on to your readers the fact that they can obtain a copy of this manual for free, in PDF format here. Given that so many people travel with computer-like phones, many can keep this in their phones, if they wish.”
That’s kind of cool. Though in PDF it’s a pretty big document to store on most cell phones. Maybe converted to HTML or text, though.
SOME COOL Krakow photoblogging.
THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION was no — in fact, I think we did talk about that subject briefly in the podcast, where McCain acknowledged that we were on different sides and that I had pounded him on it in the past, but neither McCain nor Patrick Hynes, who was our go-between, asked us to avoid any subjects.
THE INSTA-WIFE WONDERS why I haven’t been shilling for the Weblog Awards like some other folks in the blogosphere. At this point, I’m just not that excited about these things.
A LEBANON ROUNDUP at PJ Media.
JAMIL HUSSEIN: International man of mystery! Of course, the biggest mystery is “what the hell is AP thinking?”
UPDATE: C.J. Burch emails: “They’re thinking that if they stonewall long enough the rest of us will forget. Just like the Nixon Administration did.” Yes, the Nixon comparison has been made by others.
GADGET UPDATE: The Popular Mechanics folks have posted their gear wishlist for 2006.
I have to admit that I’ve always wanted one of these, notwithstanding that I’ve seldom had any use for one.
THE ISG: No Jews Allowed! “Arabs, Persians, Chinese commies, French obstructionists, Russian assassination squads. But no Jews. Even though Israel is the only country to be required to make specific concessions — return the Golan Heights, etc. Indeed, insofar as this document has any novelty value, it’s in the Frankenstein-meets-the-Wolfman sense of a boffo convergence of hit franchises: a Vietnam bug-out, but with the Jews as the designated fall guys.” (Via Newsbeat 1).
UPDATE: No Kurds, either:
Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani has angrily rejected the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group in the United States and warned of “grave consequences” if there is any delay in deciding the fate of the oil-rich region claimed by his people. Mr Barzani, president of the 15-year-old autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq and a staunch ally of the US, also criticised the ISG for not visiting his region, saying that was a “major shortcoming that adversely influenced the credibility of the assessment”.
Looks like the sellout isn’t selling.
ANOTHER UPDATE: XRLQ emails: “The message is clear: if you want the west to acknowledge you, issue fatwahs and blow stuff up.”
Yes, and that’s a bad incentive structure to create. God help the French if the Israelis take this lesson to heart and decide to out-Arab the Arabs. For that matter, God help Jim Baker.
Plus, this amusing comment:
If James Baker ran a bipartisan Blue-Ribbon panel tasked with saving social security, his commission would conclude that no real progress on social security was possible until Israel ceded the Golan Heights to Syria and made whatever concessions necessary to mollify Hamas.
When, exactly, did Baker turn into Jimmy Carter?
MORE: Meryl Yourish thinks it’s all a cunning plan: “James Baker has managed to draw quite a lot of ire away from Bush and towards himself. Why, youâ€™d almost think it was deliberate. . . . I think weâ€™ve all been had, and that the Iraq Study Group was never meant to be taken seriously.”
THE OIL TRUST IDEA LIVES:
Iraqi officials are near agreement on a national oil law that would give the central government the power to distribute current and future oil revenues to the provinces or regions, based on their population, Iraqi and American officials say. . . .
The national oil law lies at the heart of debates about the future of Iraq, particularly the issue of a strong central government versus robust regional governments. The oil question has also inflamed ethnic and sectarian tensions. Sunni Arabs, who preside over areas of the country that apparently have little or no oil, are adamant about the equitable distribution of oil revenues by the central government.
UPDATE: More on the oil-trust idea from Mohammed at Iraq the Model.
MORE ON JIMMY CARTER’S BOOK:
On his first visit to the Jewish state in the early 1970s, Carter, who was then still the governor of Georgia, met with Prime Minister Golda Meir, who asked Carter to share his observations about his visit. Such a mistake she never made.
“With some hesitation,” Carter writes, “I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government.”
Jews, in my experience, tend to become peevish when Christians, their traditional persecutors, lecture them on morality, and Carter reports that Meir was taken aback by his “temerity.” He is, of course, paying himself a compliment. Temerity is mandatory when you are doing God’s work, and Carter makes it clear in this polemical book that, in excoriating Israel for its sins — and he blames Israel almost entirely for perpetuating the hundred-year war between Arab and Jew — he is on a mission from God.
More thoughts at Extreme Mortman.
UPDATE: Further thoughts here.
I WONDER WHERE ALL THAT MONEY WENT? “The United Nations is facing fresh accusations of bureaucratic incompetence after the disclosure that renovation costs for its vast New York headquarters have rocketed to nearly Â£1 billion.”
I think that “incompetence” is probably the best explanation one could hope for. A fitting capstone to Kofi Annan’s career.
SUNNI, SHIITE, WHATEVER: The first team isn’t coming in, but hey, at least he’s not Alcee Hastings!
CAROLINE GLICK: “When the history of our times is written, this week will be remembered as the week that Washington decided to let the Islamic Republic of Iran go nuclear.”
MEGAN MCARDLE OFFERS SOME HOLIDAY DVD RECOMMENDATIONS.
There’s also the Mel Brooks DVD Box Set, which I got, and which rocks.
AT MICHAELTOTTEN.COM, THOUGHTS ON ASSAD IN LEBANON:
The Assad regime is in a hurry. Nasrallah hasnâ€™t been able to deliver quickly enough. The Grand Serail is a fortress, and the Lebanese street is slowly turning against the protestors, who donâ€™t even have safe passage back to their homes now. The orders from the Dark Lordâ€™s council are to pack more people in downtown Beirut, and as soon as possible. The plan to occupy or lay siege to the Rafik Hariri International airport seems to be in full swing, although the Lebanese army will reportedly not allow it.
Whatâ€™s the hurry for?
This sunday, the 15-day time limit for Lahoud to sign the Hariri tribunal plan expires. As of Monday, the cabinet can constitutionally send it to parliament for endorsement. . . . Pretty soon, there will be no one left to remind Nasrallahâ€™s worshippers of all these crimes. Not when Assad is allowed to complete the plan to assassinate anyone who speaks, let alone protests, against Hizbullahâ€™s second favorite regime.
Given that assassination seems to be chic nowadays, why aren’ t the good guys doing some of it?
BILL ROGGIO POSTS more reporting from Fallujah. If you like his work, make a donation — he’s reader supported.
PROTESTING AHMADINEJAD in Afghanistan.
ROBERT WRIGHT AND I address a wide range of topics on Blogging Heads TV.
UPDATE: No, that’s not a TV studio in the background — it’s our new podcast studio, set up in the basement so that I could reclaim my study. Here’s a pic. The cool-looking desk is actually something that Helen found at OfficeMax for $200. It was even easy to assemble.
And Ann Althouse comments on the dangers of political blogging, and the importance of healthy alternatives. Judging from the comments to her post, some blog-readers could use a vacation, too.
MARK IN MEXICO is doing more reporting on events in Oaxaca.
HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS ON ROADSIDE SURVIVAL KITS, from SayUncle. And there’s a lengthy discussion thread on the topic at Knoxviews. I carry something similar to what SayUncle lists — and I highly recommend including tampons or kotex, good for treating wounds as well as the obvious, and a roll of toilet paper, good for, well, the obvious. We keep some “Mainstay Emergency Ration bars” and water in the car too — advantage being that they are so unappetizing that we’ll never eat them unless it’s a real emergency.
But it’s worth noting that your car itself has a lot of things you can work with, including gas in the tank, lines, and carbueretor (if it has a carbueretor). That should let you build a big attention-getting fire. I’ve heard of people freezing to death on a broken snowmobile with a nearly full tank of gas — that kind of thing shouldn’t happen, and it when it does happen it’s usually because people, under stress, don’t think clearly. That’s where mental preparation is as important as buying supplies. (This is a good place to start.) More on the subject can be found here.
THE TRUTH ABOUT TRANS-FAT:
I simply do not believe that the so-called health side is really composed of people who are solicitous about everyone else’s health. I can’t prove it, but my intuition is that all the strength on the “health” side of this war comes not from people who really care whether other people are healthy, but from people who don’t like having to see fat people. They are concerned about their own aesthetic pleasures, and they think fat is ugly.
Plus, in a world where feeling superior is politically incorrect, it’s important to have someone to feel superior to. That said, I do think there’s something to the Nina Planck approach, but the legislative approach is idiotic.
STANDING UP FOR free speech in Turkey.
BIG DAMN HEROES: The Firefly convention was cancelled, but nonetheless: “Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Mark Sheppard, Jonathan Woodward, Christina Hendricks and Adam Baldwin have all turned up and are partying with fans at the hotel bar into the night at the cancelled convention Flanvention. These actors? I don’t have the words.”
BLACKBERRY ORPHANS: “As hand-held email devices proliferate, they are having an unexpected impact on family dynamics: Parents and their children are swapping roles. Like a bunch of teenagers, some parents are routinely lying to their kids, sneaking around the house to covertly check their emails and disobeying house rules established to minimize compulsive typing. The refusal of parents to follow a few simple rules is pushing some children to the brink. They are fearful that parents will be distracted by emails while driving, concerned about Mom and Dad’s shortening attention spans and exasperated by their parents’ obsession with their gadgets.”
They don’t call it the “CrackBerry” for nothing. On the other hand, here’s an argument that the Blackberry is really pro-family. Like all technology, it depends on how you use it. . . .
EBENEZER SCROOGE: Pioneer environmentalist!
JUST SAW MY FIRST EPISODE of NUMB3RS, and I liked it a lot. Any show that boosts math is cool, and this one also has Navi Rawat, who’s likely to do more to make math look cool than anything since, well, ever.
UPDATE: Bill Hobbs emails that Season one and Season Two are both out on DVD already. That’s fast! I guess the TV folks have caught on to the Sarah Pullman trend: “has anyone else observed the phenomenon of non-TV watchers who will spend hours watching shows on DVD and think that it’s somehow morally superior, since you avoid the commercials?” Heh. It’s just another marketing niche. Of course, for perfect Sarah Pullman synergy you need to be watching this, I guess.
HEATH SHULER GOES TO WASHINGTON: Mike Gibson reports.
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: “The Department of Homeland Security recently warned stock traders and bankers that their online systems may be vulnerable to an al-Qaida cyberattack. DHS should heed its own warning. Remarkably, one of the nation’s most vulnerable networks is run by DHS headquarters, thanks to rapid turnover of cyberchiefs at the young agency. Last October, the inspector general’s office reported that computer systems at the Customs and Border Protection bureau and the Secret Service are vulnerable to unauthorized penetration. Among other things, the DHS-controlled agencies failed to install software that can patch security holes.” That’s comforting.
SEGOLENE ROYAL, the next President of France?
HOLE. SHOVEL. DIGGING. A.P. vs. the bloggers, again.
Plus, Mark Steyn piles on.
UPDATE: More thoughts here: “The AP wonâ€™t produce its star source, Jamil Hussein, the policeman that neither the Iraqi Ministry of Interior nor CENTCOM can find record of, any of the immolated bodies or their names, the names and credentials of the local Iraqis the AP used as reporters of the incident and the APâ€™s follow-up, the purported conveniently located afterward anonymous witnesses, nor any Sunni leaders who are aware of the claimed incident.” Plus, a Nixon comparison.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Mark Tapscott reports:
That amendment requiring the Pentagon to publish an annual report grading anonymous earmarks inserted by Members of Congress into defense spending bills was defeated in the House this afternoon on a 330-70 vote.
The vote is among the last official acts of the Republican majority in the House and ends an effort in the departing Congress to force Members to put their names on earmarks they sponsor.
Earmarks direct executive departments and agencies to spend tax dollars on projects without competitive bidding or other normal processes designed to prevent waste, fraud and corruption.
Now-former Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-CA, pled guilty earlier this year to multiple counts of accepting bribes from a defense contractor in return for earmarks in military spending bills.
A reason to miss the GOP majority just a bit less — though opposition to reform here is, as usual, distressingly bipartisan. Nancy Pelosi, along with many, many Democrats, voted against the bill.
COFFEE WITH RICHARD PERLE: “The day Baghdad fell we should have handed political authority to Iraqis.”
DONALD RUMSFELD SAYS GOODBYE:
In a question-and-answer session, he was asked about his best day and his worst day as defense secretary.
“Clearly, the worst day was Abu Ghraib, seeing what went on there and feeling so deeply sorry that that happened,” he said without hesitation, referring to the scandal in the spring of 2004 that triggered worldwide condemnation and prompted him to twice offer his resignation to President Bush at that time. Bush rejected those offers.
“I guess my best day, I don’t know, may be a week from Monday,” he said with a big grin, referring to the fact that his successor, Robert Gates, is scheduled to take over at the Pentagon on December 18.
In prepared remarks to his audience, Rumsfeld predicted that the period since he took office in January 2001 would eventually be seen as one of “enormous challenge and historic consequence.”
Asked how he wants history to remember him, he said simply, “Better than the local press.”
I think that’s likely. More information, and video, here.
BILL ROGGIO POSTS a blog report from Fallujah.
MAKING SPACE LAW at the Space Law Probe blog.
A SECOND AMENDMENT ARGUMENT IN D.C.:
At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” applies to all people or only to “a well regulated militia.” The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.
If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the amendment’s scope. The court disappointed gun owner groups in 2003 when it refused to take up a challenge to California’s ban on assault weapons.
In the Washington, D.C., case, a lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection.
Congress has also repeatedly said that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms. (Via Cato@Liberty, which has links to more information.) Some articles of mine on the Second Amendment can be found here and here. And this piece is specifically on the militia issue. Many more law review articles on the subject can be found here. There’s also this recent podcast interview with Dave Kopel.
THIS WEEK’S Blog Week in Review podcast is up, featuring me, Austin Bay, and Tammy Bruce.
A LOOK AT “the not-so-infallible AP.” “Unfortunately, and repeatedly of late, this behemoth has not only been getting it wrong – but increasingly refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing. Instead, acting more like a politician or the mega-corporation that it is, the AP crew spins, obfuscates and attacks. Now they’re at it again in Iraq.”
JIMMY CARTER CHARGED WITH PLAGIARISM:
Ambassador Dennis Ross, a former Mideast envoy and FOX News foreign affairs analyst, claims maps commissioned and published by him were improperly republished in Carter’s book.
“I think there should be a correction and an attribution,” Ross said. “These were maps that never existed, I created them.”
After Ross saw the maps in Carter’s book, he told his publisher he wanted a correction.
When asked if the former president ripped him off, Ross replied: â€œit sure looks that way.â€
SHINY: “Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.”
Suffice to say that when the Democrats allege incompetence because we are not yet victorious, they forget we have lost 50 soldiers a month since September 11, not 8,000 as was true of every month during World War II. And it is much easier to carpet bomb Tokyo, as horrendously difficult as that was, than to go into Fallujah and sort out the terrorists from the â€œinnocentâ€ under the glare of a hostile globalized media, and a disunited American public, some of whom believe that Cindy Sheehan or Michael Moore should be consulted for their superior wisdom.
I havenâ€™t engaged much in the parlor game of identifying mistakes in the occupation, because none of them (and there were many) reached a magnitude of those in World War II (e.g., daylight bombing without fighter escort in 1942-3, intelligence failures about the hedgerows, surprise at the Bulge, etc) or Korea (surprise at the Yalu). Nor were any fatal to our cause, despite the â€˜disbandingâ€™ of the army, Abu Ghraib, etc. If there were any serious blunders, they concerned the sense of hesitation that gave our enemies confidenceâ€”the sudden departure of Gen. Franks, the pullback from first Fallujah, the reprieve given Sadr, etc. In other words, once we were in a war, whatever public downside there was to using too much force was far outweighed by losing our sense of control and power, and ceding momentum to the terrorists. So we can learn from that, and begin again cracking down hard on the insurgents before calling for more troops.
Read the whole thing.
FREE FROM CAMPAIGNS, bloggers speak freely.
A LOOK AT PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD NANOTECHNOLOGY: Fairly favorable, considering the many scare stories.
IN THE MAIL: Rudy Rucker’s new novel, Mathematicians in Love, where fancy math is a tool for getting the girl — er, and incidentally altering the universe.
And here, by the way, are some science fiction recommendations by John Birmingham, author of the Axis of Time series. His taste obviously overlaps with mine. Thus, he’s a genius! I also bought Birmingham’s nonfiction book, How to be a Man, for my teenaged nephew, as it’s chock-full of practical advice, amusingly delivered.
JOHN MCCAIN ON THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP: Video.
AS ALWAYS ON FRIDAY, Major John Tammes rounds up news from Afghanistan that you probably haven’t seen.
And yeah, I know — partly because people keep reminding me — I owe you a digital
camera video carnival, but I haven’t had time to put one together yet. Sorry.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER ON THE LITVINENKO POISONING:
You don’t need a convoluted device to explain Litvinenko’s demise.
Do you think Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist who was investigating the war in Chechnya, was shot dead in her elevator by rogue elements? What about Viktor Yushchenko, the presidential candidate in Ukraine and eventual winner, poisoned with dioxin during the campaign, leaving him alive but disfigured? Ultranationalist Russians?
Opponents of Putin have been falling like flies. Some jailed, some exiled, some killed. True, Litvinenko’s murder will never be traced directly to Putin, no matter how dogged the British police investigation. State-sponsored assassinations are almost never traceable to the source. Too many cutouts. Too many layers of protection between the don and the hit man. . . . The other reason for making it obvious and brazen is to send a message. This is a warning to all the future Litvinenkos of what awaits them if they continue to go after the Russian government. They’ll get you even in London, where there is the rule of law. And they’ll get you even if it makes negative headlines for a month.
Safer to attack Bush — which is why more people do that.
I WATCHED JOHN KERRY’S APPEARANCE ON KUDLOW LAST NIGHT, and I have to say that I think it was the strongest performance I’ve ever seen Kerry turn in — if he’d been like that the whole time in 2004 he would have won.
My first thought was that he’d given up on running in 2008, and that he’d benefited from the let-up of pressure. That seems not to be the case, though.
A LOOK AT Mary Cheney’s womb and the news reporting thereon.
THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL REPORTS: “Despite increased security at courthouses following shootings in Chicago and Atlanta about one year ago, many judges are bringing their own guns into their courtrooms for protection.”
And I love this quote, from one of those judges: “”We feel strongly about providing adequate security, but it comes down to personal responsibility. And you’ve got to take responsibility for your own safety.” Indeed. Even if you’re not a judge.
SORE WINNERS: “Republican Vern Buchanan might be the official winner in a messy Sarasota-area congressional race, but Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean says the Democratic-controlled Congress should not seat Buchanan without another election.”
This will certainly harshen the divisions in the new Congress.
NO IMAMS WERE INVOLVED: Farts spark emergency landing:
The flight from Washington to Texas landed at Nashville airport, in the southeastern state of Tennessee, after passengers alerted the crew to the smell of burning sulphur.
Lynne Lowrance, a spokeswoman for Nashville International Airport Authority said all 99 passengers and their luggage were taken off the plane and searched.
An unlucky canine team was also brought in to sniff the aircraft for explosives.
After intense questioning by the FBI, a woman passenger admitted to lighting matches on board the aircraft to conceal her gas, Ms Lowrance said.
â€œFor a long time she did not admit to striking matches and I think that was just out of embarrassment,â€ she said.
â€œShe did finally admit to it saying she had a medical problem about excessive gas.â€
Glad I wasn’t on that flight.
CHINA: The world’s number one jailer of journalists. “Some countries, like China, have worked hard to expand traditional registration and licensing requirements online as a way to control at least online journalism being done by people living in China. For commercial Chinese Internet media, the chilling effects on speech have managed to mirror those in the Chinese offline media world. Efforts in China to regulate non-commercial or personal Internet media (blogs, etc.) have not been quite as successful given how difficult it is to control individual bloggers. But as some colleagues of mine at the Open Net Initiative pointed out in a report early this year, these efforts have still resulted in more caution and self-censorship by people talking online.”
Sadly, this has happened with a lot of help from American companies.
POLONIUM UPDATE: “Dmitry Kovtun, a businessman and former Russian agent who met with former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, has developed an illness connected with a radioactive substance, the prosecutorâ€™s office said. Interfax, citing unidentified sources, said Kovtun fell into a coma immediately after being questioned by Russian investigators and Scotland Yard detectives.”
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE crunches the numbers on troop deployments and gets some surprising results.
MEDIA BIAS AS A MARKETING TOOL: It goes down smooth, but it’s bad for you. It’s the trans-fat of journalism!
YES, LIGHT BLOGGING: Went to my daughter’s orchestra recital tonight. She did quite well, and so did they all; the eighth graders pulled off the Third Brandenburg Concerto, and while it wasn’t Benjamin Britten’s version, it was a very creditable performance for a middle school orchestra.
CAREER PLANNING: “You could just be a party girl, but that’s not for you. You want a career. A real career. Should you go to law school? No way. You go to work for a hedge fund.”
JONAH GOLDBERG: “The report undercuts the Murtha crowd by delegitimizing the quick bug-out (AKA redeployment) option and makes staying in Iraq at least until ’08 the “conventional” or “mainstream” point of view. For Bush, isn’t this the only part of the ISG report that matters? And when it comes to the actual situation in Iraq, the report basically confirms established policies of the White House and the Pentagon. So, in effect, doesn’t the heralded bipartisan commission in effect give Bush the leeway to â€” ahem â€” stay the course?”
PROGRESS TOWARD NANO-MEDICINE?
Intel just released samples of its latest chip, the Penryn. It’s manufactured with a 45-nanometer process, and for those of you counting at home, 45 nanometers is about half the size of DNA and proteins.
While these new chips are not yet ready to be implanted in the body, nor sophisticated enough to detect unique proteins (such as those often associated with heart disease), Intel is making progress in this area. It’s even done some preliminary work with privately held nanotech firm Nanosys, linking disease-detecting nanowires to computer chips.
In the meantime, Intel is busily making progress toward Barrett’s goal of bringing the economics of the semiconductor industry to the health sciences.
THE TEN FUNNIEST POLITICAL MOMENTS of 2006.
THE DUSTUP OVER JIMMY CARTER’S BOOK reaches ABC News.
DANIEL DREZNER: “Ah, the Democratically-controlled Congress — is there any step towards economic liberalization that they won’t block?”
Lou Dobbs uber alles.
IN THE MAIL: John O’Sullivan’s new book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.
We could use some similar leadership again. But who would fill those roles today? At dinner the other night, Jack Balkin expressed the thought that Hillary could be America’s Margaret Thatcher. I’m not sure about that, though I have in the past suggested that she might really turn out to be the most uncompromising wartime President in United States history.
REMEMBERING PEARL HARBOR.
ON THE NEXT GLENN AND HELEN SHOW, we’ll be taking questions from readers and listeners. Just email me yours with “show questions” in the subject line. Anything from blogging, to podcasting, to whatever subjects we talk about on various shows — fire away and we’ll answer.
If you want to email me a short (under 20 seconds) MP3 file with your question in audio, I’ll include that, too. (Be sure to say your name in the question if you want that included). Try to get ‘em in by the end of the day tomorrow.
NEWS IN IRAN: “Ayatollahâ€™s health fails as Iran power struggle grows.” The bad news is, there’s really nobody contending for power that we like.
VERY INTERESTING: The corporate origins of judicial review.
COMMENTS ON THE ISG REPORT, from Sgt. T.F. Boggs, back from his second deployment in Iraq. Excerpt: “I thought old people were supposed to be more patient than a 24 year old but apparently I have more patience for our victory to unfold in Iraq than 99.9 percent of Americans. Iraq isnâ€™t fast food–you canâ€™t have what you want and have it now.”
GREGORY SCOBLETE on Rumsfeld, Gates, and the war:
In the rush to heap opprobrium on an unpopular figure, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that on several fundamental issues of how America exercises its military power, Rumsfeld was right and his critics are wrong.
Rumsfeld’s vision of transformation has always been far too parsimonious for neoconservatives, who championed an American Empire and waxed nostalgic for the British Colonial Office. To the military’s traditional role of defeating and deterring conventional nation states, Rumsfeld labored to add the ability to quickly locate, target and destroy terrorist cells and facilities around the globe and to accomplish these tasks remotely, minimizing U.S. casualties. Such a vision demanded a lean, agile and networked force. It was not, however, the neocolonial occupation army demanded by his critics.
Rumsfeld was clearly the odd man out in an administration that jettisoned its realist sensibilities in the aftermath of 9/11 in favor of a more ambitious use of American power. His preference to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis quickly stood in stark contrast to the administration’s professed aims of constructing a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. His desire for a rapid exit undoubtedly hastened Iraq’s sectarian fragmentation, but such a fragmentation was inevitable. The U.S simply did not possess enough manpower to accomplish what Rumsfeld’s critics wanted to in Iraq.
I think that’s right. An extra 20 or 30 thousand troops isn’t enough to make a qualitative difference in our approach; that would take a half million or more, and we don’t have that many to send. And even that wouldn’t be enough, so long as Iran and Syria had — as they have — a virtually free hand to stir up trouble.
UPDATE: Hmm: “Exit Rumsfeld, Smiling.”
MORE ON NEANDERTHAL WOMEN.
A HAROLD KOH BOBBLEHEAD DOLL: The gift for the person who has everything!
NEW EVIDENCE OF liquid water on Mars.
A SHORT COURSE in brain surgery.
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Writing in Industry Week, Scott Rickert wonders about the nanotechnology industry’s response to recent safety concerns:
According to a recent article in Small Times, a nanotechnology trade journal, Matthew Nordan of Lux Research was quoted as saying, “I know of at least two personal care companies that have delivered the message from on high explicitly not allowing the words ‘nanotechnology,’ ‘nano-engineered,’ ‘nano-capsule,’ or anything else like them.”
We haven’t yet heard reports of companies halting research or product development based on the ruling, but I fear it’s a topic of discussion in labs and boardrooms across the country.
Seems to me, these decisions represent the ostrich approach, sidestepping the issues, rather than seeing them as an opportunity to set standards and build an attitude of trust with consumers. My biggest fear is that the “ostrich factor” isn’t short term. Five years from now, will we still have our heads in the sand? Meanwhile the rest of the world is moving ahead on nanotechnology in logical, considered fashion.
I have some related thoughts here.
IT’S STUDENT DAY in Iran.
News came in yesterday that Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint had successfully negotiated a clean continuing resolution for the remaining appropriations bills in the Senate. There were talks with GOP Leadership and the big-spending appropriators to attach a clean Military Quality approps bill to the CR, but the appropriators balked, refusing to let a couple of freshman senators push them around. In the end, ironically and deliciously, a couple of freshman senators pushed them around.
The result, Roth reports, is that 10,000 pork projects have been blocked.
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS on the anniversary of an attack.
IRANIAN OIL WOES?
Iran has a surprising weakness: Its oil and gas industry, the lifeblood of its economy, is showing serious signs of distress. As domestic energy consumption skyrockets, Iran is struggling to produce enough oil and gas for export. Unless Tehran overhauls its policies, its primary source of revenue and the basis of its geopolitical muscle could start to wane. Within a decade, says Saad Rahim, an analyst at Washington consultancy PFC Energy, “Iran’s net crude exports could fall to zero.” . . .
Iran’s looming crisis is the result of years of neglect and underinvestment. As in other oil-producing countries such as Venezuela and Mexico, the government treats the oil industry as a cash cow, milking its revenues for social programs. It allocates only $3 billion a year for investment, less than a third of what’s needed to get production growing again.
Hmm. This almost makes the Bush Administration’s weirdly nonconfrontational (one might even say “oblivious”) stance with regard to Iran seem sensible — but can we wait a decade? I don’t think so.
UPDATE: A look at what Gates didn’t say.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jules Crittenden: “As political matters go, I was more interested to hear a former CIA director still thinks we had to invade Iraq in 2003. That was also a relevant strategic issue, after all.”
THE CONGRESSIONAL TRIBUTE TO NORMAN BORLAUG has passed.
WELL U.S. AIR GOT ME HOME ON TIME, though they did it via a code-share flight that was really United. Pleasant trip, and the security guys at Hartford were unusually cheerful and amusing.
I haven’t had a chance to look at the Iraq Study Group report, but here’s an analysis by Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club, who probably has more useful things to say on the subject than me anyway.
And James Taranto comments: ” The recommendations of the Iraq Study Group are out, and those who are eager for a quick American defeat will be disappointed. ”
Meanwhile, N.Z. Bear has put up a page-linkable HTML version of the report, and will be tracking blog comments that link to it.
HOWARD MORTMAN: “Are you better off now than you were four weeks ago?”