Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bucs best Panthers, move to 3-1

The Tampa Bay Bucanneers put together a third straight complete game, with contributions from offense, defense and special teams to dominate the Carolina Panthers in a 20-7 win at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.

Offense
Set the tone early, driving for a touchdown after the opening kickoff. Apart from injuries to Carnell Williams and Luke Petitgout, the only downside was points left on the board. The Bucs fumbled deep in Carolina territory in the first half (Hilliard laid the ball on the ground after a completion), and the Bucs failed to punch the ball into the end zone on fourth-and-one with Earnest Graham carrying the ball.

The injury to Williams looks serious. Rumor says it's an ACL. I think the method of injury makes it look more like an MCL (medial collateral ligament), and I wouldn't be surprised if it was accompanied by a torn meniscus. On the other hand, the knee ended up in a nasty position so more than one ligament could easily have sustained damage.
The injury to Petitgout also looks like a MCL based on the hit he took. I'd be surprised if he misses the entire season.

These injuries put a damper on the Bucs' playoff hopes even though the team is sitting pretty at 3-1.

Defense
The defense played a great game, with the back seven playing a nearly flawless game. The Bucs got at least one coverage sack (something I've predicted based on the solid play of linebackers and secondary). The defense is manufacturing its own luck with swarming tackling and hard hitting--just like the old days (Super Bowl year, that is). Phillip Buchanon and and Jermaine Phillips stood out in the secondary again. Patrick Chukwurah registered his first sack of the season in his first appearance of the season. Chukwurah put on a good rush from the right side.

Special Teams
Matt Bryant made his two field goal attempts, and the kick coverage was solid--though the Panthers did return one kickoff out to the 35--not up to standard, but that starting position has been an exception for Bucs' opponents this year.

Next Week
The Bucs play at Indianapolis, the best measuring stick of the season so far.

The Bucs should have a shot to win, but both Williams and Petitgout will be sorely missed. I expect Williams to most likely go on injured reserve. I hope Kenneth Darby gets a shot at being added to the active roster. The Bucs cut Darby late during training camp. Darby is currently a member of the Practice Squad, so hopefully he has begun to learn his assignments better. He can definitely run.



*****

Cougar, Badger ... what's the difference?

April 15, 2007: The Iraqi army has received its first batch of 40 Badger Armored Vehicles. There is some confusion over what the Badger is. It's basically a variant of the popular Cougar armored truck, widely used by bomb disposal teams. The Iraq army is buying 378 Badger armored trucks. Originally called the Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles (ILAV), the Badgers will cost about $432,000 each. The ILAV is based on the four wheel Cougar, which can carry ten passengers. If the Badger proves popular, the contract makes provision for a total of 1,050 vehicles to be delivered by 2009.
(strategypage)
So add the Badger to Force Protection's Cougar-type lineup, next to the UK's Mastiff version.

clipped from www.blackanthem.com
An Iraqi soldier climbs into a Badger for the drive to Baghdad from Taji Army Base in support of Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon March 31. A total of 398 Badgers are to be delivered this year as part of Iraqi military's modernization program. (Photo by U.S. Navy MC2 Elisandro Diaz)

blog it



From the same Strategy Page story:
But with as many as 20,000 MRAPs on hand, keeping them in storage may not be an option. As a result, the U.S. Department of Defense has halted work on designing the hummer replacement (the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle or JLTV).


The JLTV, I believe, is the class of vehicle including Force Protection's Cheetah and Protected Vehicles' Protector (not to exhaust the list; I just don't know what other companies are offering, though I know that Lockheed is working on something). Given that both vehicles are designed to resist IEDs while permitting the type of speech and mobility the military had with the Hummer, I find this decision difficult to fathom. The JLTVs have largely been developed already, from what I can tell.

*****

Saturday, September 29, 2007

United States Senate does its part to unite Iraq

In a bass-ackwards kind of way, that is:
Baghdad, Sept 29, (VOI)- MP Izz al-Din al-Dawlah said on Saturday the parliamentary blocs of Accordance, Fadhila (Virtue), Sadrist, Iraqi National List, National Dialogue, Turkmani, and Yezidist had made progress in negotiations to establish an expanded front within the House of the Representatives to combat the U.S. Senate resolution on dividing Iraq.

"Great progress has been made in the negotiations since the blocs have realized that the latest security and political developments require a unified decision," Al-Dawlah, from the Sunni Accordance Front, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
(Aswat Aliraq)
Will the senators who sponsored the resolution take credit if this appears to help unify the Iraqis?

“For the first time in this incredibly divisive national debate we’ve been having about Iraq, a strong bi-partisan majority of senators – including fully half of the Republicans – has voted to change course,” said Sen. Biden. “It’s the first time there is some real hope that we can put ourselves on a course to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind.”
Sen. Biden’s amendment also has 17 sponsors: Joe Biden (D-DE), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), John Kerry (D-MA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) Harry Reid (D-NV), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Tom Carper (D-DE).
(biden.senate.gov)
Looks like it will at least require some flip-flopping of the rhetoric if the measure prompts unification.


*****

Game on in Pakistan

This doesn't look good.
ISLAMABAD: The Constitution Avenue on Saturday presented the scene of a virtual battlefield. The blood of journalists and lawyers soaked the ground who fell victim to the worst-ever brutality of the police in the capital’s history – thanks to the newly-appointed police chief Marvat Ali Shah.

Large contingents of the police, both in uniform and plain clothes, were deployed at the main route of the Constitution Avenue. Besides, personnel of law-enforcement agencies were also deputed at the main Chowk of Fazle Haq Road, Blue Area Islamabad, where the police had erected blockades.
(The News)
President Musharraf gave himself some credibility by letting stand a number of the rulings of Pakistan's high court. Apparently that was not enough to keep the anti-Musharraf factions from hitting the streets. Musharraf has had to play a delicate game to keep his power/maintain stability in Pakistan. We have reason to worry about what will transpire if Musharraf is ousted.

Maybe the new regime will cooperate against terrorism at least as much as Musharraf did--but then again maybe we get a new Taliban.



*****

When the headline changes the story

Here's one from NewsMax.

The story (click the link to read the whole thing):

PUERTO PENASCO, Mexico — Mexican President Felipe Calderon told U.S. governors Thursday that immigration is an inevitable, natural phenomenon and he urged the U.S. Congress to approve reforms that would allow more Mexicans to work legally north of the border.

Calderon demanded that the United States respect "the right to work wherever one can make the greatest contribution."

(NewsMax)

The headline is a paraphrase of Calderon--a paraphrase of borderline (no pun intended) fairness. While Calderon does engage in the rhetoric of a "right" to work irrespective of borders (a concept that is incoherent so long as nations have conflicting national interests), he seems at least somewhat willing to engage the U.S. government on the issue. For what it's worth, the e-mail headline that drew my attention to the story was even worse: "Mexican President: We're Coming, You Can't Stop Us"



*****

"We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand" (Updated x2)

I've tried to make something of a cottage industry of correcting the record when people get quotations wrong, or where quotations simply have not been verified sufficiently to warrant their use. The quotation in the headline is widely attributed to James Watt. The ultimate source of the quotation was Austin Miles, who wrote that Watt said it an some point on a PTL Club broadcast (Update: actually it was a different quotation that Miles claimed from the PTL Club--this one I think Hellena Handbasket pegged as a Miles paraphrase).
We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.
-- James Watt, (attributed: source unknown)
(positiveatheism.org)
Source unknown? No big deal! We'll use it anyway.
James Watt is quoted as having said, “We don’t have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.”
(Sunshine Cathedral-MCC)
Well, yeah, Watt is quoted as having said that. I suppose phrasing it that way gets the author off the hook for perpetuating a falsehood, if it happens that Miles' recollections were in error.

"We don't have to protect the environment -- the Second Coming is at hand." - James Watt
(The Quote Page at Mawek.com)
This is my favorite part: "This page is maintained by Marco van den Broek Last update: 18 January 1996." Some wouldn't call that "maintained."

In the meantime money is being wasted on books and movies ("Left Behind"), there's fear-mongering, and justification for trashing the environment because Jesus will be returning soon ("We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.” - James Watt, Former (US) Secretary of Interior, Washington Post, May 24, 1981).
(Kickin' the Darkness)
Interesting that atheists and my fellow Christians are among the most eager to dump on Watt, each falling short of their responsibility to verify the information they're spreading (I made a comment to this blog, asking for a correction).

JAMES WATT, former Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan, was famous for the following statements – “I don’t know how many future generations we can count on until the Lord returns.”

“We don’t have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.”

“After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back”

We Christians live in hope. But this is NOT the hope we live in. Such views negate the creation, rather than cherish what God has given us. It reminds me of a child that destroys a toy it has been given in hopes it will be replaced with a better one.

(christiansforthemountains.org)

Two out of three of the quotations are bogus. Not a very good percentage.


James Watt (Secretary of the Interior)

"We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand."*

(adultthought.ucsd.edu)

Note the asterisk. It leads to a blurb a long way off at the bottom of the page: "*Statement made on live national television." I doubt it, but I'd like to know more. They couldn't have used as a source the Web site I noted here, I hope. I sent a message to these folks, also. I may stick with this group. They're getting published on a .edu site under the auspices of (if I'm not mistaken) the University of California San Diego. Probably a state school that receives government funding ... and they don't appear to practice religious neutrality. I wonder how principled is their stand on church/state separation?

That's one page worth of Google hits, and I think that's all for now.


Update: Got my asterisks mixed up on the Adultthought entry. The asterisk led to the identification of Watt rather than to a claim that the words were spoken on live national television (though coincidentally I've seen that claim made about dubious quotations of Watt).

Update 2: The "Kickin' the Darkness" blog did the next best thing to adding a correction to the bad data. They rewrote the blog post to omit it.


*****

The O'Reilly race kerfluffle





Ye Olde Tempeste in Teapot. CNN's coverage is horrible. Even the gloriously partisan Media Matters did a fairer job on the story than CNN. Compare:
During the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, discussing his recent trip to have dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia's, a famous restaurant in Harlem, Bill O'Reilly reported that he "had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful," adding: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O'Reilly asserted: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."
(Media Matters)

I have yet to see a full transcript of the radio show, but the Media Matters account should cue the fair-minded person that O'Reilly's comments were not a big deal at all. CNN, in the two clips shown, consistently treated them as if they were indeed a big deal.

The key point is that CNN took comments made "later, during a discussion with ... Juan Williams" and put then onscreen while playing the audio of the earlier comments. That's a textbook case of misrepresenting the context.

Media Matters is probably tickled pink that CNN was able to distort the story beyond a mere insinuated attack.

O'Reilly, I'll give you and Juan Williams the last word.




OK, one more thing. Brian Maloney at The Radio Equalizer did a bang-up job analyzing this story, making all the points I've made and more. I'd have gone on to something else if I'd known about the job Maloney did from the start.


*****

Green card sweepstakes

I have no idea who would institute a scheme like this, unless it's simply designed as an advertisement by a political action group trying to push for tighter immigration standards.

Lodged in today's spam filter:

Dear Winner.

Congratulation! You are among those selected randomly as one of the lucky winners of the U.S Green Card in DV-2007 diversity immigrant program for fiscal year 2007. Please retain this letter and take it with you to your visa interview when needed.

Approximately 100,000 individuals were selected for further processing; However there are only between 50.000 &.55.000 diversity visas available under the FISCAL YEAR 2007 DIVERSTY VISA PROGRAM. Therefore, it is most important that you carefully follow these instructions to increase your chance of possible visas issuance.
That's not the whole of it, but you get the idea.
They don't ask for money or personal information, though they're very particular that you use the case number that they sent to you to the "Asia pacific consular center."

There's also a Web site listed, but scheme is too lame to warrant any genuine interest on my part.


*****

Got another one

WASHINGTON — U.S.-led forces have killed one of the most important leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Tunisian believed connected to the kidnapping and killings last summer of American soldiers, a top commander said Friday.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson said the death of the terrorist in a U.S. airstrike Tuesday south of Baghdad, and recent similar operations against Al Qaeda, have left the organization in Iraq fractured.

(FOXNews.com)

The best news occurs later in the story, where we find out that the U.S. military believes AQI fractured and on the run.


Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

*****

Friday, September 28, 2007

Elspeth Reeve gone from The New Republic

Elspeth Reeve, the reporter/researcher whose connection to Scott Beauchamp helped lead to the publication of his Baghdad Diarist series in The New Republic, apparently no longer works for the magazine.

Confederate Yankee reports via Patrick W. Gavin that Reeve was doing a 1-year internship at TNR. Confederate Yankee helpfully pointed out that Reeve was first published in early May of 2006, yet remained on the masthead through July of 2007.

I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation, even if it involves a screw-up.

Reeve has now gone absent from the TNR masthead.

In fact, it looks like I get to add a little bit to the story. Not only is Reeve gone as a "reporter/researcher" but the entire group listed from July of this year is gone. Isaac Chotiner and Bradford Plumer also went bye-bye.

So, that leaves us to wonder: Does TNR leave its research to interns (all of whom experienced the end of their internships at approximately the same time), or did TNR find their work unsatisfactory?

Searching a few hits for "Chotiner" put me back at Patrick W. Gavin's site, at the page I couldn't quite connect to from Confederate Yankee:
Of the two other reporter-researchers, Isaac Chotiner left for the Huffington Post and Brad Plumer was promoted to assistant editor.
(mediabistro.com)
One can hope that Plumer's promotion was accounted for by something other than poor research.


*****

North Texas Skeptics persist in Watt credulity (Updated)

It's been months since I helped establish beyond reasonable doubt that James Watt has been widely misquoted in two instances because of the writings of Austin Miles.

The North Texas Skeptics have played a significant role in keeping the the misrepresentation of Watt around with their "Skeptical Quotes" page, which includes a short "Rogues Gallery."

The lead Rogue entry continues to be a bogus quotation of James Watt, even though I informed the North Texas Skeptics about their error back in May of this year.

Apparently they'll believe that Watt said it until they have proof to the contrary. Apparently there is no corresponding requirement for proof in the affirmative.

My responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus returns. We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.
James Watt, Secretary of the Interior for Ronald Reagan
Quoted in the Washington Post, May 24, 1981
(North Texas Skeptics)
I added the red emphasis, indicating the portion of the supposed quotation that does not appear in the Washington Post on the date claimed above.

Update:
He didn't exactly move like lightning, but Curt Mobley came through on his pledge to remove the same bogus quotation from his "Ann and Curt's Excellent Adventures" page.

I salute him for his integrity.


*****

Hillary walks like a duck (Update/correction)

"I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home," she said.

The New York senator did not offer any estimate of the total cost of such a program or how she would pay for it. Approximately 4 million babies are born each year in the United States.

(Associated Press)

Cap'n Ed Morrissey did the math.

Four billion babies at $5,000 per comes to $20 trillion.

(Correction: Cap'n Ed may have done the math, but I failed to reproduce it accurately. It's four million babies, not four billion. Four billion babies really would be quite a few. As a result, the dollar figure should have been $20 billion. Certainly not as sensational as $20 billion, but a whole lot more accurate in terms of representing the plan.)


Per year.
Assuming that dear Sen. Clinton isn't planning on ballooning the debt like nobody ever did before her, she'll probably need a tax increase (or two ...) to cover the new expenditure.

She starts to look like a tax-and-spend liberal, no?

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

*****

An unsurprising update on the Beauchamp saga

Mixed signals on the nature of the findings of the Scott Beauchamp investigation, courtesy of Michael Goldfarb's account of Col. Ricky Gibbs from a bloggers' roundtable.

In response to the first question, Gibbs said that he had directed an investigation into Beauchamp's allegations and determined them to be false. "The incidents did not take place," Gibbs said. And Beauchamp "admitted that himself" to the investigating officer. For clarity, I asked Gibbs again, did Beauchamp admit the stories were false? "He did admit to the investigating officer that the incidents did not take place."

At the end of the call, Gibbs returned to the subject of Beauchamp's confession to say that "Beauchamp did not recant," but that "he does not stand by the story." This caused some puzzlement among the folks on the line.
(The Weekly Standard)
The Armed Services aren't really distinguishing themselves any better than The New Republic on this one, though of course the Army has different purposes in mind than a political magazine. It may fall to Scott Beauchamp to offer the details of the investigation, putting us right back where we started.

... the wheels of the investigation snagged a dog, which was dragged alongside the investigation for about a half hour ...


*****

Classic (Updated)

clipped from article.wn.com
Iran and Venezuela heads in talks
The guy on the right is probably a greater danger to the world, oddly enough.

Sean Penn seems to be taking his sweet time publishing his story on Hugo Chavez. If this keeps up I'll start thinking he's either afraid for his life or that Chavez won't invite him back.

Update:
It seems reasonable to ask whether the photo above (assuming it's not Photoshopped!) reflects a chink in the argument that a secularist will not cooperate with a religious extremist.

Remember how there was no way that a Baathist like Hussein would cooperate with Sunni extremists?

Another step toward a secure Iraq

This is why the Kurds want a unified Iraq.
Turkey and Iraq have signed an accord in Ankara to deal with separatist Kurdish fighters who have been attacking Turkey from bases in Iraq, but it does not allow for Turkish troops to enter Iraq.
The deal, broadcast live on television on Friday, was signed by Jawad al-Bolani, Iraq's interior minister, and his Turkish counterpart Besir Atalay.




The deal is aimed at combating the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK).
(Al Jazeera)
The PKK makes Turkey very unhappy (conducting, as it does, terrorist operations in Turkey). A Kurdish state without the backing of a national Iraqi government makes a tempting target for the Turkish military when PKK attacks occur.




*****

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sistani on board with National Pact Project in Iraq

It's always nice to hear rumblings that might turn into palpably positive political happenings in Iraq.

Baghdad, Sept 27, (VOI) - Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi said on Thursday that he discussed the National Pact Project and a number of political issues during his meeting with top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani at his house in Najaf, noting that Sistani blessed the project.
(Aswat Aliraq)
What is this "National Pact Project," you ask?

The 25-principle-initiative has addressed basic issues that might lead to ending the deterioration in Iraq according to the Islamic Party Secretary-General al-Hashemi.
The National Pact called for "Equality of all Iraqis before the law, condemnation of killing based on identity, shunning extremism, and rejecting foreign interference in Iraqi affairs."
The initiative, which also called to achieve national reconciliation, recognized resistance as "a right of all occupied nations," indicating that "terror is not considered resistance."
The Islamic Party is one of three components that constituted the Sunni Accordance Front, which quit the Iraqi government two months ago after it accused the government of "closing the door to any true reforms."
I'm not so hyped about the recognition of resistance as a "right of all occupied nations." The Iraqi government says it wants the U.S. troops to keep helping out. Is it consistent to call invited troops an occupation force?

That language, I think, implies a reluctance to recognize the legitimacy of the current Iraqi government.

Iraqis, if you want the U.S. troops to leave then stop killing each other and stop attacking U.S. troops. Stabilize your country and there's no need for the U.S. to keep troops there (not counting forward positioning as a check on Iran).


*****

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is the strike zone different for the Yankees?

I was too busy to blog about the Rays extra-innings win over the much-hated New York Yankees last night.

I watched just a little bit of the game tonight. It seemed like Rays pitcher J. P. Howell wasn't getting much benefit of the doubt on the ball and strike calls. I decided to use MLB GameDay for the semi-forbidden purpose of graphically verifying my impression. Here's the at-bat of Doug Mientkiewicz in the key fifth inning (Mientkiewicz led off with a weak single and later scored the third run of the game, starting off a big inning for the Yankees):



I noted a number of weeks ago that MLB removed the strike zone from the graphic, but it's very easy to see that pitches 1 and 3 were well within the strike zone.

I've heard it mentioned that Yankees hitters get favorable treatment at the plate; the team exhibits terrific patience while at bat and one wonders whether that patience causes the supposed favorable treatment or vice-versa.

This at-bat provides a small piece of evidence supporting a tiny strike zone for Yankees hitters. Allow me to admit that I have no idea whether or not Yankees starter Paul Wang had his pitches called the same way. I'm willing to forgive inconsistency from umpire to umpire if each ump calls it about the same for both teams.


*****

Was Bush right or was he misquoted?

The wisdom of the Daily Kos on the gaffe that wasn't a gaffe.

They ask if Bush was right or was he misquoted.

Right about what?

The accompanying poll provides a strong indication that the Kos blogger doesn't have anything substantive to say on the subject.

Understood properly, Bush is right that somebody made an interesting comment about the lack of a Mandela-like personality in Iraq.
Understood via the fugue of the Fever Swamp, Bush was wrong that Mandela was dead because Hussein killed every one of the Mandelas. Apparently some of the Mandelas escaped.
clipped from www.dailykos.com

Daily Kos


Was bush right or was he misquoted ?

bush was misquoted by the left winged liburul press..
1 vote - 2 %
g w bush has a very dificult job, thinking and stuff...
22 votes - 47 %
This is just a South African plot to discredit g w bush
0 votes - 0 %
Well, if bush says Mandellas dead maybe he is..
1 vote - 2 %
He was thinking of Mandellas wife, ah, ah what's her name..Ah
0 votes - 0 %
Foolme once and shame on me, ah, fool me again and, ah, ah, youse cant fool the decider
13 votes - 28 %
I cant decide..
0 votes - 0 %
Ivy League aint all that it's made out to be..
6 votes - 13 %
Hugo Chavez, the praknster is behind this..
3 votes - 6 %

46 Total Votes
Poll submitted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 08:43:25 PM PDT
Back to g w bush at his best pronounces that Nelson Mandela is dead ? .

Seems like the big thing for lefty blogger is to try to be John Stewart or Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia

If anyone from Columbia University is interested in seeing how Ahmadinejad played them in front of the Islamic world, here's a taste:
Ahmadinejad rose to applause, and after a religious invocation said Bollinger's opening was "an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here".

He blamed the university president's "unfriendly treatment" on the influence of the US media and politicians ahead of his visit.
"Many parts of his speech were insults," he said. "We actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgments."
(Al-Jazeera)


Do read the entire thing to get the full effect. Those arrogant Americans!


*****

Monday, September 24, 2007

Romenesko weighs in ... sort of

Jim Romenesko of St. Petersburg's Poynter Institute got around to addressing the New York Times ad issue today.

He printed an open letter he received addressed to Clark Hoyt, the public editor who panned his own paper over the issue.

The letter, from Leonard Witt ("Associate Professor of Communication at Kennesaw State University"), related how Witt was about to have an op-ed published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution criticizing the Senate resolution ("sense of the Senate") condemning the MoveOn.org ad referring to a General Betray Us. Witt said he was "dismayed" over Hoyt's column.

Why was he dismayed with Hoyt's column?

Let's let Romenesko tell it:
Times public editor Clark Hoyt (left) says he would have have demanded changes to eliminate 'Betray Us" in MoveOn's ad, "a particularly low blow when aimed at a soldier." Leonard Witt responds: "I would argue having any one person at The New York Times decide how a public body can properly address a United States general is a particularly low blow to free speech."
(Romenesko)
Witt appears to have unhinged himself. MoveOn.org can express themselves however they wish. Hoyt simply pointed out that accepting the ad went against the written standard that the New York Times instituted to judge such issues.

Hoyt:
The answer to the second question is that the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising acceptability manual that says, “We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.”
(New York Times)
One doubts that Witt would be quite as sanguine about such standards if I placed an ad in the New York Times suggesting that he is a politically unhinged academic.

Romenesko also links to a blog entry that criticizes Hoyt for not addressing the main issue attached to the ad controversy.

Greg Sargent of a blog called "The Horse's Mouth" apparently thinks that Hoyt should have denied that the Times offered MoveOn a lower rate because of ideology. Is that the job of the city editor?

Hoyt looked into the matter, determining that a person in the ad department gave an inappropriate discount to MoveOn.org. Hoyt went easy on the Times, however. He could have made a bigger deal about the Times' defense of itself: the insistence that the ad rate was the standard rate. It could be a lie, or it could be a second staffer with questionable ability.

I think Hoyt answers the question better than Sargent will allow. Hoyt's account implies that the individual staffer erred, and gives no attention to the Times' slow admission of an error (assuming that account is accurate).
Hoyt almost certainly knows how ridiculous the charge of ideological collusion is. Why didn't he say so, then? By failing to reach for a conclusion about the question at the center of this whole controversy, Hoyt succeeded only in giving more ammo to right-wing critics -- and let down the paper's readers, who deserve to hear a journalism expert like him pronounce judgment on the assumptions and questions at the core of this whole assault on the paper.
(The Horse's Mouth)
Defend us, damn you!

Chill, Sargent. He did defend you (objective journalism, that is). He just avoided using the type of stridency that would understandably give rise to the thought that they doth protest too much.


*****

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I wonder if we get to see this at Romenesko?

The Public Editor for the New York Times (something akin to an ombudsman, apparently), calls foul on the Gray Lady:

FOR nearly two weeks, The New York Times has been defending a political advertisement that critics say was an unfair shot at the American commander in Iraq.

But I think the ad violated The Times’s own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to.
(New York Times)
Looks like Romenesko has weekends off. We'll see if he was paying attention when Monday rolls around.



*****

Media continue to twist Bush's remark about Iraqi Mandelas.

Hilarious stuff--but frighteningly irresponsible journalism.

NELSON Mandela is still very much alive despite a gaffe by US President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in a speech yesterday.

"It's out there," said Achmat Dangor of the Nelson Mandela Foundation of Mr Bush's comment, which received worldwide media coverage.

(news.com.au)

Apparently these Aussies want you to believe that Dangor was calling Bush's comment "out there" in the sense of being crazy.

That doesn't appear to be the case.
Former president Nelson Mandela is alive and well after comments on Iraq by US President George Bush appear to have been misunderstood, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said on Friday.

"It appears that his statement has been misunderstood and we wish to assure everyone that Mr Mandela is alive and well and enjoying some rest and relaxation at his home in Johannesburg," said Achmat Dangor, chief executive of the foundation.
(Independent Online)
But why bother representing the entirety of what Dangor said when you can twist it to make fun of Bush?
The Independent account went on:
Dangor, said, "We know that his statement was made in the context of the difficulty in finding Iraqis capable of resolving the conflict in their country."
Thanks to Reuters and a slew of other dingbats in the business of journalism, many will never get enough of the story to have Dangor's understanding of it.


*****

Bucs thump Rams 24-3

I intended to post after doing a review of the game video, but evidently a power outage truncated the recording.

Big win for the Bucs, given the difficult start to the schedule (Indy and Seattle among the first five games).

Special Teams
Special teams were huge. St. Louis had no return game, and that's saying something when Dante Hall returns most of the kicks. The Bucs' Mark Jones, on the other hand, had a number of big returns on the day. Special teams play set up field position in the Bucs' favor throughout the day.

Huge credit goes to ST coach Rich Bisaccia, who has got a young and very speedy group of backups living up to their responsibilities on special teams.

Defense
Some say the Bucs' defense is "back," but this defense isn't yet driven by the defensive front four, unlike Buccaneer teams of the past. That may yet happen, but so far the defensive line is doing just enough. They haven't dominated anybody. The linebackers and defensive backs have made the defense effective. They're all hustling to the ball and hitting, and providing generally excellent pass coverage.

Jermaine Phillips has finally started to fill John Lynch's shoes, making a big hit on tailback Stephen Jackson and snaring a nifty interception along the sideline. Philip Buchanon has played brilliantly in relief of Brian Kelly, who has been dinged up a bit this season.

At linebacker, Cato June has provided the splash play that we haven't seen since the Ian Gold experiment a few years ago, and Barrett Ruud has made the middle linebacker position his own taking the place of the retired Shelton Quarles. Derrick Brooks might be a shade slower, but he makes up for it with game savvy.

Offense
I can't say I've been any sort of Jeff Garcia fan, but the guy deserves a great deal of credit for the way the Bucs offense has played the past two weeks. Garcia has an excellent sense of what is going on around him in the pocket, and he has a knack for finding the open receiver--something the Bucs sorely missed last year.

The offensive line has been almost totally remade since two years ago (center John Wade is the lone remaining starter). The unit has been pretty solid so far and should only get better if it can stay free of injuries. Even if injuries occur, the backups seem pretty solid (especially the surprising Donald Penn at right tackle--just don't let him drive your SUV).

Summary
Excellent team effort today. The Bucs stuck to their defensive scheme and took advantage of the breaks. Next week Tampa Bay visits Carolina. That's a great test for the offensive line. If the line gives Garcia time, he'll carve up Carolina's secondary. On the other side of the ball, Steve Smith will give the secondary its toughest test so far this season. I expect Smith to have trouble getting deep. Smith is a huge threat with a short reception, of course, so I hope to see a continuation of the Bucs' crisp tackling. Carolina's using a new zone blocking scheme on offense, and it remains to be seen how well their personnel can carry it off.


*****

If You Can't Say Anything Good Department

I'd like to congratulate the 2 out of 32 at the Daily Kos who appeared to express a firm inkling that the supposed Bush gaffe about Nelson Mandela being dead wasn't really a gaffe at all.

Numbers subject to change as the commentary thread grows.


*****

Saturday, September 22, 2007

MoveOn against the current

Was Gen. David Petaeus making things up about the Iraq War just so he could continue leading a dead-end military campaign?

Gallup's polling seems to indicate that Americans don't think so (for some people, that should mean that Petraeus has credibility).

Americans are sending ambiguous messages about what to do in Iraq. On the one hand, they think going to Iraq was a mistake, are dubious the troop surge has been effective or that the war will be won, and would like to start withdrawing U.S. troops on a timetable. Most of these positions run contrary to the message delivered by Petraeus to Congress last week. At the same time, Petraeus is increasingly well-regarded by the public, and his plan for a long-term incremental pullout of Iraq is generally supported. Most Americans come down on the side of saying Petraeus' plans for withdrawal are about right, if not too aggressive.
(Galluppoll.com)
The message is ambiguous because everybody wants our troops to come home, but most know that the consequences of making that move are unacceptable. The shocking thing is that so many Democrat (and even a few Republican) leaders don't seem to see the consequences.

Perhaps their view is obscured by their view of their re-election poll numbers.


*****

Friday, September 21, 2007

Willing to go to bat for Eliot Engel?

I posted about Rep. Eliot Engel's disgraceful and fallacious attempt to undermine Gen. David Petraeus' trustworthiness earlier. "Duane" popped by to offer something like a defense of Engel's comments. Turns out that a blogger went to bat for Engel right about the time I was blasting him.
Petraeus thanked Engel for the opportunity to defend the piece, because "I stand by it." He noted that it contained several notes of caution, in which he said there were still many challenges ahead in Iraq. (That's true, but any honest reading of the whole piece will indicate it communicates a sense of positive momentum that cannot be easily reconciled with the past three years of lack of progress toward the U.S. handoff to Iraqi troops.)
(Minnesota Monitor)
Ah, if only I had high-paying advertiser for every time I'd seen the "any honest reading" ploy ...

Eric Black wrote the entry, and I'll address my reply to him.

Eric, there's absolutely nothing difficult about reconciling a short-term positive assessment of momentum with a long-term negative observation of momentum, in principle.



The green arrow represents a short-term assessment of progress.
The dark blue bracket represents a long-term trend of negative progress.

The blue bracket can never contradict the assessment given at the green arrow unless said assessment makes predictions about progress that fall into the blue bracketed area. I don't see anything remotely like that. Engel failed to point out anything like that. Black followed Engel's lead.


The line I graphed does not represent an attempt to realistically graph progress in Iraq, just in case there's any doubt on that point.


*****

Dems won't quit trying to quit (Updated x2) (bumped)

"The important thing is that they know that we're not going to quit."
Those were the words of some Democratic leader, sounded like Harry Reid, referring to his party's intention to keep trying to quit the war in Iraq.

I heard that on the radio moments ago, and it set me to laughing.

You can't make these things up.

Update: It was Carl Levin's legislation that failed, so there's a good chance it was Levin making the statement.

Update 2: Levin it is:
"The question is, where do we go from here?" said Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee.

"The important thing is that they know that we are not going to quit."

(IC Publications, via AFP)



*****

Reuters sticks foot in media mouth

Captain's Quarters has done a nice job with this story, but I can't pass up commentary because this type of media coverage is exactly what chiefly motivates me to blog.

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.

"It's out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive," Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said as Bush's comments received worldwide coverage.
(Reuters)

Even without the background information provided by Cap'n Ed, isn't it perfectly obvious even in the immediate context what Bush meant?
"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.
They seriously thought that Bush believed that Hussein killed Nelson Mandela?

This serves as yet another example of the way a set pattern of thinking leads to editorializing in "objective" news stories. There is no faux pas here by Bush. It's a faux pas by the person who wrote the story for Reuters, and it's a black eye to every editor who passed the story on to its readership.

Why there's no correction or apology attached to the story already is beyond me (barring a brazen attitude in the press regarding such matters).

Compounding the problem, they couldn't even get the wrong punctuation right. There's a single quotation mark after the question mark with no mate to be found in the rest of the paragraph. They probably meant to have it this way:

"I heard somebody say, 'Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.

But it should have been like this:

"I heard somebody say, 'Where's Mandela? Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,'" Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.

Here's egg on your face, Reuters.

*****

Blackwater on the job again in Baghdad

BAGHDAD - Despite opposition from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, US security company Blackwater was back on the streets of Baghdad on Friday, four days after being grounded over a fatal shooting incident.

Blackwater guards, whom a furious Maliki wanted replaced after they opened fire in Baghdad killing 10 innocent civilians, were on Friday protecting US personnel on limited missions, US spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said.

(Middle East Online)

Sounds like a good compromise. The Blackwater shutdown severely crimped U.S. operations in the Iraqi capital. This move permits operations to continue, but limits Blackwater while the investigations of the earlier shootings move along.

I wonder why al-Maliki opposed the move, though?


*****

Another honor killing in Pakistan

KHAIRPUR: A woman was killed on the charge of Karo-Kari here on Friday, police said.

They said accused Mukhtiar along with his accomplices axed to death his brother's wife, Zainab Shar, in the Islamabad village on the pretext of Karo-Kari.

They said two years ago the deceased woman was declared Kari but later acquitted of the charge by a Jirga. However, her brother-in-law did not accept the Jirga decision and killed her with the help of his accomplices.
(The News)
It just serves as a little reminder that Pakistan potentially hangs in the balance. Not every Muslim who favors strict sharia law will necessarily favor terrorism and suicide bombings, of course. But the culture is different in Pakistan, and if Musharraf falls you don't know what you'll get.

This is as good a point as any to point to Michael J. Totten's story about rebels who helped bring down the Shah of Iran and lived to regret it. Don't miss the part about Totten's Komala Party confusion.



*****

Criswell ... predicts?

Not every entry in "Criswell Predicts" is a prediction. Sometimes Cris just wants to share his thoughts.

We are all lighted candles in a darkened world, weary travelers on the highway of life, plodding on to our endless existence! For once we exist, we continue to exist! Our span of life compared to the billions of years of time, is but a fast twinkle in the eye of God! We are all of ten seconds from Eternity and the limitless time thereafter! Surely the things we have today pass with us into this pleasurable void!
--The Amazing Criswell


The paragraph goes on for for 10 more sentences. Nine of them end in an exclamation point. The lone exception ended in a question mark.

Passages like this remind me of the opening of "Plan 9 From Outer Space," the Edward D. Wood Jr film that featured Criswell as the narrator. It makes me wonder if Criswell was responsible for writing his own narration.

All of on this earth know that there is a time to live, and that there is a time to die. And yet, death is always a shock to those left behind. It is even more of a shock when Death, the Proud Brother comes suddenly without warning. Just at sundown, a small group, gathered in silent prayer around the newly opened grave of the beloved wife of an elderly man. Sundown of the day, yet also the sundown of the old man's heart, for the shadows of grief clouded his very reason.
(based on Chris M. Terry's annotated transcript/script of the film, minus his added comments)


*****

US military continues to claim surge successes

Violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since a 2006 mosque attack which unleashed the deadliest phase of the Iraq war, the deputy commander of United States forces in Iraq has said.

Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno yesterday said attacks in Baghdad had also fallen by half since January, just before Washington began pouring 30,000 extra troops into Iraq to try to drag the nation back from the brink of sectarian civil war.

(nzherald)


Odierno credited decreased IED attacks to an aggressive search for enemy weapons caches.

Insurgents can take heart, however. Democrats will not quit their efforts to quit in Iraq.

*****

German modular MRAP (Updated)


Spotted a story about Germany's Gefas mine-resistant vehicle, made all the better by an excellent graphic highlighting the modular design.

It will be interesting how this design fares in testing and later combat (assuming it passes the first test).

Update:
Here's more on the GeFaS ("short for 'Gesch├╝tztes Fahrzeugsystem'"), which means "protected vehicle system from the manufacturer, Rheinmetall *(they have plenty to say, just click the referral link at the bottom to read it all):

RLS develops modular medium-weight wheeled vehicle

GeFaS: the universal platform for wheeled armoured vehicles


A truly revolutionary vehicle concept is now emerging at Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH (RLS).
(Rheinmetall)

*****

Dems won't quit trying to quit (Updated x2)

"The important thing is that they know that we're not going to quit."
Those were the words of some Democratic leader, sounded like Harry Reid, referring to his party's intention to keep trying to quit the war in Iraq.

I heard that on the radio moments ago, and it set me to laughing.

You can't make these things up.

Update: It was Carl Levin's legislation that failed, so there's a good chance it was Levin making the statement.

Update 2: Levin it is:
"The question is, where do we go from here?" said Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee.

"The important thing is that they know that we are not going to quit."

(IC Publications, via AFP)



*****

A delicious slice from Larry King's interview with Dan Rather

[King]:Let's take a brief look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "60 MINUTES II," SEPTEMBER 8, 2004, COURTESY CBS)

RATHER: Did then Lieutenant Bush fulfill all of his military commitments?

And just how did he land that coveted slot in the Guard in the first place?

Tonight, we have new documents and new information on the president's military service and the first ever interview with the man who says he pulled the strings to get young George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Are you sorry about that now?

RATHER: No.

KING: You think the report was correct?

RATHER: Yes. And I think most people know by now that it was correct. Keep in mind that Colonel Killian's -- he's the deceased commander of George Bush -- his secretary took a look at the document and said everything in here is true.
(CNN.com)
Fake-but-accurate lives on.

As noted in an earlier post on this subject, however, Dan Rather is so delusional at this point that he seems to think that the supposed Killian memos haven't been proved fake.
KING: But there were some erroneous things in the report, right, weren't there?

RATHER: That has not been proven. What -- the one place, the one place that we were vulnerable -- I acknowledged it and wish we hadn't been was -- I want to make it very clear, nobody to this day has shown that these documents were fraudulent. Nobody has proved that they were fraudulent, much less a forgery, which they're often described that way. The facts of the story, the truth of the story stands up to this day.

And what is journalism?

Journalism is trying to get at the truth, trying to separate bull shine from brass tacks. And the brass tacks were in that story. The story was true.
Think about what Rather in saying in the big picture, here. Rather is saying that Killian's secretary, a liberal partisan who received a nice (paid) vacation courtesy of CBS for her story, provides enough evidence to support the story. That is what he is saying because the documents were almost surely forged, at odds something like 1 million to 1. The only shred of hope that the documents weren't forged comes from the notion that a rare and expensive typewriter from that earlier era was used for routine documents in the Texas Air National Guard, and beyond that happened to have features of typography that would make it virtually identical to one produced with Microsoft Word. And that's ignoring the mistakes in formatting.

Language Log provides a good explanation:

One small but telling observation of typography has to do with two characters I recently discussed in another context here):


'

The first has the HTML code ' and is known as the apostrophe or tick or pock. The second has the HTML code and also because it is a 9-shaped right single quote, used to match the 6-shaped left single quote. As I remarked, no font distinguishes the functions by consistent uses of these differently shaped glyphs. The Times Roman font standardly uses the character -shaped character for both the apostrophe function and the single right quote function, though you can insert the '-shaped glyph if you want to for some special reason. One special reason might be that you wanted to simulate a typewriter: since their invention, typewriters have had only the ' glyph. You were supposed to use it for both left and right single quote functions as well as the apostrophe function. But many people do not seem to notice the difference in shape between these glyphs. And the alleged Bush memos have (see the pictures given as part of the analysis here ), the one never found on typewriters. These memos were not typed in 1972.

A second and even clearer giveaway feature is the appearance of small-font superscripts in words like 117th. In 1972 these could hardly be done at all using office equipment. If you had a fancy typesetter, the IBM Selectric Composer, which would have cost you the 1972 equivalent of about $20,000, then if you knew how you could produce something like this effect, but it was struggle, and involved stopping to adjust the paper position and change the type ball before and after the th (a blog called The Shape of Days gives the full details). But Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect feature and WordPerfect's QuickCorrect feature both automatically change 117th to 117th as you type if you leave them with the default settings the way the programs come from the factory — unless you leave a space to break up the sequence, getting a thoroughly non-standard look (117 th). The alleged Bush memos have a mixture of 117 th (with a space) and 117th (with a small-font superscript). They were typed using a modern word processor, like Word or WordPerfect, using the factory defaults. The forger was not careful enough either to switch off the automatic substitution, or to go back and remove the space in 117 th, or to go back and turn the superscript off in 117th (any of which would have been fairly easy). These memos were not typed in 1972.

(Language Log)

And there's even more where that came from.

In short, Rather is delusional and has veered outside his own definition of journalism. He can't see the truth to tell it.


*****

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The decline of Iraqi bread

I ran across a story about bread-making in Iraq. It provides a kind of snapshot of Iraqi thinking regarding the state of their nation.
Basra, Sept 19, (VOI) - Iraqi bread, formerly known for its delicious taste and whiteness, is now getting darker day by day, leading some to liken it to the days the Iraqis are passing through. In past decades Iraqis were proud of having their bread baked at home using baking furnaces called "tannours." However, as modernism invaded most Iraqi cities this tradition started to diminish.
(read the rest at Aswat Aliraq)
I wonder what makes the bread darker other than mixing the grains, and I wonder if the whiteness of the bread was linked to bleached flour.


*****

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This is too much

NEW YORK — Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather has filed a $70 million lawsuit Wednesday against the CBS network, its parent company Viacom Inc., and three of his former bosses, claiming he was made a "scapegoat" for a discredited story about President Bush's military service.

Rather, 75, accused CBS and its executives of making him a "scapegoat" in an attempt to "pacify the White House," according to CBS Radio.
(Fox News)

This is beyond funny, as it shows nothing more than the unhingedness of Dan Rather. He apparently continues to believe in the discredited story about George W. Bush's history in the Texas Air National Guard even after all this time.

Rather made himself a scapegoat with his failure to take proper responsibility for the bad reporting he did on that story--a condition that persists up to the present day.

I can't wait to see the evidence that Rather will present at trial (assuming that the suit isn't summarily dismissed). Documents discovered by Bill Burkett, I suppose, will show the way the White House pressured CBS into firing Rather.




Hat tip to Dean Barnett at HughHewitt.townhall.com

*****

Defense Update armor story, Caiman photo

Defense Update just published an extensive (8 page) story on vehicle armor, and I was delighted to finally find a pic of the Armor Holdings (now part of BAE) Caiman MRAP.

The article is excellent for describing the pros and cons of armor (striking a balance between protection and function).



*****

USA Today: Army wants more MRAPS

WASHINGTON — The Army has decided to ask for 10,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles to counter the threat of makeshift bombs in Iraq, according to one of the program's top congressional supporters.

The new request is nearly four times the 2,700 vehicles, known as MRAPs, that the Army had sought. That's still not enough, said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who was briefed on the change by the Defense Department. Biden cited a request this year for 17,770 of the vehicles for the Army by Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 military commander in Iraq.

"Until every soldier and Marine has the best protection we can give them, we must keep pushing," Biden said.
(USA Today)
Credit to Democrat senator Joe Biden for advocating for the troops. Biden might be the most serious Senate Democrat on defense issues now that Joe Lieberman is an independent.

The news is good for at least one manufacturer of MRAPs. Ceradyne is in a good position to push its "Bull" MRAP, but the winners in MRAP I can point to past success to bolster their chances of scoring some fat contracts on this one.

One caveat, however. These MRAPs do not replace Humvees in the tactical sense. It seems that vehicles like Force Protection's Cheetah or Protected Vehicles' Protector will be needed to provide the kind of mobility that Donald Rumsfeld hoped to make a hallmark of the US armed forces. Whatever you think of his handling of post-Saddam Iraq operations, his vision of the application of U.S. military might represents an important transformation.




*****

... and speaking of Iran

WASHINGTON: The United States is drafting a new sanctions resolution against Tehran, the State Department said Tuesday, just days before a meeting of major powers regarding Iran's controversial atomic aims.

"What we're doing is working on the elements of a resolution. We put down on paper some of those ideas, what it might -- what a resolution might look like," spokesman Sean McCormack said.
(The News)
Iran is a state somewhat more vulnerable to sanctions than Iraq, in that the unrest against the government is more homogeneous than in Hussein-era Iraq.

An effective sanctions regime could help tip that nation, and any change is likely to be an improvement.

On the downside, effective sanctions tend to hit the common folk--the very ones we hope to turn into future allies.



*****

Those naughty Iranians

Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the proliferation and development of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in a Jane's Defence Weekly report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.

According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas.
(Jerusalem Post)
If Ahmadinejad ever gets around to commenting on this one, I'm sure it will turn out that the sarin gas was for peaceful purposes.

Iran is definitely the nation we want to control Iraq.



*****

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eyes shut tight, they make their recommendations

The St. Petersburg Times has pretty much always irked me with its liberal slant--a slant that routinely escapes from the editorial pages to infect the news writing.

Last year, I had an opportunity to sit in on an editorial board meeting.

It was no less liberal than I expected, with Robyn Blumner and Bill Maxwell providing the most outstanding examples of left-tilted fulmination.

This time, it's one of the Times' byline-less editorials that caught my eye. Let's say I expect that Blumner's hand was in this one (high Bushes-per-paragraph rate one of the telltale signs).

Fresh on the heels of Gen. Petraeus' testimony, the Times' editors give their opinion of the Iraq War and give us a window into their view of Iraqis.
We strongly come down on the side of those, including a majority of the American people, who believe it's time to start winding down the war and for the United States to put the responsibility for that miserable country's future where it belongs, in the hands of the Iraqi people and their leaders.
(St. Petersburg Times)
Skipping past the Sir Robinesque beginning (let's bravely run away, away!) with their "strong" stand for withdrawal, the disdain for Iraq is plain. Iraq is a "miserable" country (don't bother contacting the SPT ombudsman--all they were saying, we'd hear, was that Iraq is war-torn and anyway that's Bush's fault), and saving Iraqi lives isn't worth spending American lives.

The editors appear to have no perspective on Iraq in terms of world events and the balance of power.
If there were ever any doubts, Bush's speech made it clear that he has no strategy for ending this war, much less winning it.
No examples forthcoming, I note. Did Bush's speech dispel my notion that the war is won when the central Iraqi government can maintain itself and remain an ally of the United States?
The premise of our strategy is that securing the Iraqi population is the foundation for all other progress. For Iraqis to bridge sectarian divides, they need to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. For lasting reconciliation to take root, Iraqis must feel confident that they do not need sectarian gangs for security. The goal of the surge is to provide that security and to help prepare Iraqi forces to maintain it. As I will explain tonight, our success in meeting these objectives now allows us to begin bringing some of our troops home.
(Newsday.com)
Looks like a strategy, particularly combined withe counterinsurgency tactics that Petraeus was tabbed to implement. But what do I know? Shouldn't I simply trust the SPT to put me "In the Know"? Impart to us thy great wisdom, St. Petersburg Times.
Bush revealed none of their doubts in his speech to the nation.
Sure he did. He just did it implicitly, by acknowledging that victory isn't a foregone conclusion and by acknowledging that the Iraqi government needed to start meeting some goals.
Realizing this vision will be difficult, but it is achievable. Our military commanders believe we can succeed. Our diplomats believe we can succeed. And for the safety of future generations of Americans, we must succeed.
If the commanders and diplomats thought that success was assured, then Bush would be saying "Our military commanders know we will succeed" or the like.
He maintained that enough military progress has been made to justify continuing his policy, even though by his own standard the troop surge has failed.
I wasn't aware that the benchmarks were all slated to come due in September, a mere two months after the full complement of forces arrived in Iraq to implement the new strategy.
While our strategic goal requires a long-term relationship with Iraq, we are at a new phase in the effort and must sharpen the objectives we believe are achievable in the next 12-18 months.
The above came from a presentation accompanying the original announcement of the surge by Bush, preceding a list of eight goals.
He told the nation last spring the surge's goal was to give the Iraqi government more time to bring about political reconciliation. That hasn't happened
Not soon enough for the Times to call it over and done, anyway. The editorial goes right on to claim that Bush predicts a likely victory in his speech. That's simply inaccurate, from what I can glean.

Good luck being "In the Know" if you rely on the St. Petersburg Times.

D'oh, I forget to point out one of the most hilarious things about the editorial. It assures us that we need to change course in Iraq--the sooner the better. Change course to what? Apparently it doesn't matter, and requires no discussion.

"In the Know." Whatever.

*****