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Belmont Club

Monthly Archives: July 2008

Can’t beat the …

July 31st, 2008 - 5:21 pm

There’s a new Colonel in command in Fallujah. PJ O’Rourke described him as a formidable man. “Some call him a genius. Others blame him for the deaths of millions. There are those who say his military reputation was inflated.” Yes, it’s Colonel Harland Sanders. The North Shore Journal reports that Kentucky Fried Chicken, Fallujah is now open for business:

The KFC is the first to open for business in the city. Before improved conditions in the city, insurgents threatened business owners, demanding money to support acts of terrorism. After a quick visit to the Fallujah Business Center during routine operations July 16, Marines with Regimental Combat Team 1’s Security Platoon and with Information Operations, talked with employees at the franchise to evaluate its success.

“We stopped to check up on the KFC to see how things were going,” said 1st Lt. Michael C. Bryant, platoon commander with Battery M, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, RCT 1. ”You can tell that the area is returning to normal, especially when you see fast food places in the area doing so well.”

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Data point 2

July 30th, 2008 - 7:02 pm

When I said “falling for you” I didn’t mean thatThe European trip is over and Obama is still falling in the Intrade prediction market. AFP writes, “No ‘bounce’ from Obama foreign trip: poll” CNN’s Jack Caffery expresses his bafflement.

It’s a mystery to many: why isn’t Barack Obama farther ahead in the polls? CNN’s poll of polls shows Obama up by 5 points, leading John McCain 45% to 40%. In most polls, he rarely breaks 50%. A new USA Today/Gallup Poll actually shows McCain leading Obama 49% to 45% percent among likely voters. It seems like Obama should be miles ahead of McCain when you consider the political climate.

And what an adulatory climate it was. The Guardian described his “rock star” welcome. “For the man who has brought rock star charisma to electoral politics, yesterday saw the campaign rally as pop festival, a summer gathering of peace, love and loathing of George Bush. Taking what he calls his ‘improbable journey’ to the heart of Europe, Barack Obama succeeded in closing down one of Berlin’s main thoroughfares last night, luring the city’s young in their tens of thousands to stand in the evening sunshine and hear him spin his dreams of hope – not for America this time, but for the whole world.” One story from Bild was filed from a gym where the Candidate was working out.

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The wrong place

July 29th, 2008 - 5:33 am

Over hereTwo assertions about Iraq ought to be challenged or at least examined more closely. The first is the idea that security improvements in Iraq and al-Qaeda’s defeat had little if anything to do with the US effort. The second is the assertion that the “real” strategic center of gravity always should have been Afghanistan, because the proper object of the War is to “get bin Laden”.

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Ho ho ho

July 27th, 2008 - 6:49 pm

Climate changeWeather is a complex system. Just as the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that the resorts had received a coating of snow despite notice from a government agency that the skiing industry was doomed, the local news reports that

for the first time since 1836 it has snowed in Sydney – at least that’s what the locals are saying. Meteorologists say technically it was soft hail, but that didn’t stop the locals making snowmen. … Locals say the winter wonderland in the suburbs of Roseville and Lindfield looked like snow to them, and children happily built snowmen and bought out their snowboards.

Well, who knows? One of the problems with politicizing a scientific question — declaring Global Warming to be unassailable fact or unassailable bunk — is that it goes against the spirit of the scientific method. Currently accepted models should always be open to revision and refinement as new data comes in.

Data point

July 26th, 2008 - 6:42 am

An interesting thing happened while Barack Obama was on his worldwide “victory lap”. His fortunes began to fall in the Intrade prediction markets and lost momentum over the same period.

The Victory Lap time period It may not have any real long term significance, but it is possible the trades capture short-term information arising from a period of intensive coverage of the candidate’s message, often in adulatory terms. But why didn’t BHO’s fortunes in the prediction markets climb? The latest trades should have incorporated the information from the early part of BHO’s overseas trip. It will be interesting to watch. I don’t think it tells us anything about how the election might go in November, other than that the current betting odds still favor Obama, but there might be a clue or two about what drivers are providing impetus — or not providing impetus — to BHO’s campaign.


Tip Jar.

Print the legend

July 25th, 2008 - 2:18 pm

Roger Simon comments on the Edwards/National Enquirer affair. Roger writes:

Some cheap psychoanalysis. I would guess that Edwards, like many cheaters, wanted to be caught. After all, it is hard to conceive he would be that dumb as to conduct a tryst in this modern/post-Bill Clinton era in, of all places, the Beverly Hilton. The Hilton — where such events as the Pre-Oscar luncheon and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent victory celebration are held — would be among the last places you would choose. It’s often a virtual den of paparazzi with staff and others always standing by to tip the gossip press on the latest celeb sighting. There are thousands of places in Southern California more low key for such a meeting. If Edwards is indeed that dumb, we are certainly lucky he never became President. Among those who should be scratching their heads at this moment are his supporters.

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The seen and the unseen

July 24th, 2008 - 7:11 pm

Carl J. Ciovacco has a fascinating article on the evolution of savagery in al-Qaeda. It was surprising to learn that Osama bin Laden was, in the days immediately after the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan, extremely squeamish about shedding noncombatant blood. His reluctance to shed blood was rooted in religious prohibititions. The story of his gradual journey towards unlimited warfare was shadowed by religious doctrinal changes which he himself promulgated in order to justify his new policies.

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Runaway

July 23rd, 2008 - 1:49 pm

A Washington Post editorial says that what the public believes is true about Obama’s reception in Iraq isn’t. But does it matter?

The initial media coverage of Barack Obama’s visit to Iraq suggested that the Democratic candidate found agreement with his plan to withdraw all U.S. combat forces on a 16-month timetable. So it seems worthwhile to point out that, by Mr. Obama’s own account, neither U.S. commanders nor Iraq’s principal political leaders actually support his strategy.

First impressions often last. And “initial” coverage sometimes molds public perception more permanently than subsequent corrections. “Initial” coverage is on Page One; editorials are on page A14. The Washington Post is worried by Obama’s disturbing policy declarations on Iraq, but comforts itself by imagining he really doesn’t mean it. But even the editors are unable convince themselves.

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Ex cathedra

July 22nd, 2008 - 6:59 pm

“Let me be perfectly clear …”Barack Obama’s response when asked about his assertion that the Surge was bad strategy is a picture perfect example of what Philip Tetlock described as the “I was almost right defense”. Tetlock described how analysts who failed to predict the fall of the Soviet Union still argued that if the coup attempts against Yeltsin had been somewhat better organized and succeeded there would still be a USSR. Hence they were almost right but they were betrayed by facts. Jake Tapper at Political Punch has this excerpt from an interview with BHO which almost exactly reproduces that defense:

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Combined arms

July 22nd, 2008 - 4:24 pm

Two stories of ground to ground and air to ground from Iraq and Afghanistan, 2006 convey some of the flavor of events which were not publicized at the time. The first involved the fight around a downed helicopter suddenly beset by a lightly armed unit’s worst nightmare: numerically superior enemy with lots and lots of crew served weapons. An MH-6 Little Bird had been hit with a dud RPG which nevertheless took out the tail rotor. It landed in the desert in close proximity to the enemy it had been stalking. Another Little Bird settled in beside it while Blackhawks evacuated the crew. A perimeter with about 20 men was established around the downed helicopter when suddenly several enemy trucks with dual 14.5 mm antiaircraft machine guns and lots of infantry appeared. The hunter had become the hunted.

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