Monday, June 30, 2008

What we have here is a failure to communicate

From the blog Comments from Left Field we have the following headline:

John McCain: Domestic Violence is Hi-fncking-larious
Uh, what?

The story behind the headline concerns questions as to why McCain did not choose Arizona governor Jim Gibbons to chair his campaign in that state.

Why was McCain snubbing Gibbons? McCain replied with a chuckle that he had just stopped beating his wife a couple of weeks ago.

It turns out that the entry at CFLF links to one by Jake Tapper at ABC News:
To be clear, McCain was alluding to the fictitious leading question "When did you stop beating your wife, senator?" It's a bit of distasteful DC yuckery so commonly quoted it's hackneyed.

But considering the subject McCain was discussing at the time, to allude to that joke was, well, .....awkward!

"DC yuckery"? Let's grant right away that McCain's reply might be considered awkward to a slight degree. "DC yuckery"?? Where has Tapper been? The "Have you stopped beating your wife?" question is the classic example of the complex question. That is, the technique of asking a question containing a questionable premise. If the one questioned offers an answer then it will appear that he accepts the premise.

The definition of "DC yuckery" should be closer to DC reporters offering yucky analysis like Tapper's.

Perhaps Tapper should explain why pretty much every online explanation of logical fallacies seems to be up on its "DC yuckery."

Or, as BIll45 stated in the commentary section below Tapper's entry:

The question "when did you stop beating your wife?" is not, as Tapper claims, "a bit of distasteful DC yuckery so commonly quoted it's hackneyed." Rather, the question is used in every first year law school evidence class as the classic example of the unfair misdirecting question that leaves the respondent with no choice but to assume the truthfulness of the underlying yet unproven proposition -- that the respondent is presently or has in the past beaten his wife.

McCain was quite right to raise it in this context as an example of media unfairness.

"DC yuckery." Unbelievable. Does Tapper work with an editor?

Rays beat Pirates, recapture first in AL East

The Tampa Bay Devil* Rays took two of three games from the Pittsburg Pirates and took a half game lead over the Boston Red Sox.

The Rays host the Red Sox for a three game series at the Trop starting today.

Carlos Pena has come off the DL swinging the bat well along with the top of the batting order consisting of B. J. Upton, Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Tampa Bay's pitching has remained solid as predicted by experts. A stretch of hot hitting could allow the team to drop Boston back a few games. Then again, Boston's pitching is good enough to potentially extinguish hot bats.

Boston's still the team to beat in the division. This series will help decide if there's a chance of changing that this year. A sweep by the Rays will definitely apply some pressure.

I've been tough on pitcher Andy Sonnanstine after he was rocked in two consecutive starts. The cagey righthander has gone on to reach nine wins with his performance Sunday against the Pirates (five hits in seven innings). Sonnanstine's rubber game victory allows him to edge Evan Longoria for my series MVP award

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rays conduct road sweep of the Marlins

The Tampa Bay Devil* Rays rode strong pitching to a three game sweep of the Florida Marlins at Dolphins Stadium.

The Rays uncharacteristically struggled with their fielding during the first two games, but Rays hitters provided enough runs to swamp the Marlins.

Tampa Bay has yet to sustain a streak of good team hitting. If this series sparks such a streak then the Rays should keep pace with the Red Sox and perhaps build a lead in the wild card race.

Evan Longoria continues to impress for the Rays at third base. His hitting against the Marlins allowed him to tie for the team lead in RBIs and home runs (43 and 14, respectively).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Best Obama poster yet

Hat tip to American Power, of the Jedi blogroll.
clipped from s80.photobucket.com
obamasnobxm8-1.gif Obama Elitist picture by DonaldDouglas

6x6 Cougar is to Mastiff as 4x4 Cougar is to ...

Ridgeback (or "Ridgback" as the official MOD page calls it).
Having arrived in the UK, the Cougar base vehicles will morph into the Ridgback - being upgraded with integrated additional protection, weapons, communications systems and specialist electronic counter-measures equipment - and then join their big brother, the Mastiff, on operations.
With the Ridgback we see the continued British preference for eliminating side windows aft of the driver's portion of the cabin.

While I do not doubt that elimating windows increases protection, I do wonder whether the downside is worth it.

Obama disagrees with liberal justices on death penalty case

Barack Obama apparently disagrees with the 5-4 decision declaring unconstitutional the application of the death penalty to the crime of child rape.

Problem is, the only four dissenting votes came from the justices who fit the mold that Obama would reject if and when he is president.

Power Line suggests that Obama is engaged in election-year posturing. The alternative, evidently, is that Obama intends to nominate justices who will interpret the Constitution in a manner to which he objects.

Leadership.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I did not have textual relations with that woman: The Johannson e-mail relationship with Obama

Headline credit to an unidentified reader of The Campaign Spot at National Review Online.

Some time ago, Politico interviewed Scarlett Johannson regarding her support of Barack Obama, and she mentioned a "dialog" between the two of them. Yesterday, The Trail at The Washington Post quoted Sen. Obama indicating that he sent but one e-mail message to Johannson, apparently contradicting her account.

I say "apparently" because you really never know how you're going to look when the press starts putting your quotations into a story. I find this little matter between Obama and Johannson interesting primarily because of the press treatment angle. Does it have significance for the presidential campaign? Maybe. A little.

When I saw the piece at The Trail today, it made me wonder if the original interview at Politico had drawn an extended inference into Johannson's words (I read the Politico interview when it first appeared, mind you). Observe the way Shailagh Murray puts the story together:
LOS ANGELES -- As he headed to a Hollywood fundraiser, Sen. Barack Obama downplayed the idea that he hobnobs with actress Scarlett Johansson.

The movie star, who campaigns actively for the Illinois senator, recently told the website Politico, "You'd imagine that someone like the senator who is constantly traveling and constantly 'on' - how can he return these personal emails? But he does, and in his off-time I know he also calls people who have donated the minimum to thank them."

She said Obama had responded to one note about a debate, commenting to her that the questions were "silly."

In the next paragraph, Murray goes on to paraphrase Obama as saying Johannson did not even have his personal e-mail address and provides the following quotation:
"She sent one email to Reggie, who forwarded it to me," Obama said, referring to his 26-year-old personal assistant, Reggie Love. "I write saying, 'thank you Scarlett for doing what you do,' and suddenly we have this email relationship"
Murray's presentation of the story ends up providing some pretty nice cover for Obama. That's certainly the way I took it at first blush. The quotation from Johannson leaves it ambiguous as to whether the "e-mails" (plural) refers just to her messages or also to messages from others. The next paragraph factually matches Obama's statement. Johannson sent "one note about a debate"--ostensibly a paraphrase of Johannson--and Obama's statement "She sent one e-mail" dovetails perfectly. So maybe the interview story ended up exaggerating things.

But I thought I recalled that the original story at Politico provided a stronger impression than that from Johannson. It turns out that had Murray (or her editor?) had been willing to use a bit more space or choose slightly different quotations and paraphrases Obama could have looked much worse:
She e-mailed him after some of the Democratic debates, offering her thoughts on his messages and performance. “After the silliness of the last ABC debate,” she said of the highly criticized event co-hosted by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, she wrote to congratulate him on “holding his ground.”

His replies have been thoughtful, she said, more than a brief line or two; on the ABC debate, he responded that the questioning was “difficult” and he was being pounded on “one silly question after another.”
These lines appear to indicate more than one e-mail from each side. Did Politico's Jeffrey Ressner draw an unjustified inference? Apparently not. Johannson's words, if she was quoted accurately, appear to provide a pretty solid framework for the understanding that a more extended back and forth took place between Obama and Johannson:
Johansson is somewhat shocked that he keeps up their back-and-forth correspondence. “You’d imagine that someone like the senator who is constantly traveling and constantly ‘on’ — how can he return these personal e-mails?” she asks. “But he does, and in his off-time I know he also calls people who have donated the minimum to thank them. Nobody sees it, nobody talks about it, but it’s incredible.” She adds, “I feel like I’m supporting someone, and having a personal dialogue with them, and it’s amazing.”
That last line is the key. Without that line to sustain the idea that a continued exchange took place, neither story really makes sense. Unless the reporter is an outright fabulist (the lack of outcry speaks in his favor), then Johannson did convey the impression of a back and forth exchange that is downplayed in Murray's reporting. But the response from the Obama campaign as reported by Murray makes no sense minus the understanding that textual relations took place.

Thus, a real discrepancy exists between the Johannson account and the Obama account. One of them might be lying (take your pick), or--using a bit of imagination--something slightly weird may have taken place, like a campaign staffer impersonating Obama and leaving Johannson with the impression that she sustained a dialog with Sen. Obama. I'm not sure who deserves the lion's share of the benefit of the doubt. If Obama is lying, then this story reasonably has some relevance to the campaign.

Who knows? But in any case it's interesting to see how the press treats these issues.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Update on Iraq Body Count

In an earlier post I mused about the slow updating of some aspects of the Iraq Body Count project. With the help of Kay Williams, listed as IBC's "principal researcher and archivist," I confirmed that IBC still pursues its purposes full-bore but has fallen behind.

Williams explained:
This is purely because we are a very small team of volunteers and if one of the team is engaged in other work, or perhaps takes a holiday, this means someone else has to cover their work, to keep things at least ticking over, thus slowing everything down. We ensure that the initial work, the collecting and storing of media reports including civilian deaths, is always covered daily and have always thought it more important to do the work meticulously, rather than rushing it out, just to be current. We do aim to be only about two weeks at most behind (reports updating incidents, especially those involving many deaths, often come out at least a week later), but with only three people doing the core work, this has meant we have got considerably further behind than we would like. I am currently working on April 23rd. After the incidents are compiled, we send the information out to our checkers, all also volunteers and most with full-time jobs. This may entail discussion, correction/alteration of details, again causing delays, but vital to our work. I cannot publish incidents to the website until at least 2 checkers are agreed on the detail and have indeed had the time to do the checking.
(Kay Williams e-mail #1, 6/24/08)
One cannot help but appreciate the fastidious approach of the volunteer crew. The notion that IBC is flagging in its per capita effort is safely dispensed with, it seems.

Though I consider myself a journalist for purposes of blogging, I try to be extremely careful that those with whom I communicate are suitably aware that I intend to publish what they say. Williams offered a perfect model of civility and cooperation, and agreed to let me publish respecting the current state of IBC. She also encouraged me to in turn encourage my readers to take more complete advantage of IBC's resources and consider supporting their effort through donations.
IBC is trying to get proper funding for work which we consider should be done by all governments involved in conflict. We rely entirely on donations, to finance the website and pay a small amount to a couple of our workers - most of our team are unpaid volunteers, who have now been working on this project for nearly six years, 7 days a week. We are hoping for funding to improve our work, pay the core people something and enable more to be done using our data, for example we want to make the site more of a memorial to those innocent civilians killed, by having a memorial page for each person for whom we have personal details and stories. We have always considered our work to be much more than just numbers. Could you urge any interested readers to consider donating via the website, to keep us going for the present? Also, urge you(r) readers to read all sections of the sit(e), where we explain what we do, why and how etc.?
(Kay Williams e-mail #3, 6/24/08)
Any of my readers who have no concerns over the editorial content presented at IBC (I do have those types of reservations) is hereby encouraged to strongly consider donating to IBC to assist them in providing a valuable service.

The IBC Web site is set up very sensibly for easy navigation, in my opinion, but just in case:

Find out about their purpose here and more about their rationale here.

The statements of purpose and rationale should appeal effectively even to those who disagree with some of their editorial positions.

Those interested in helping in IBC's work can find out how by going here.

Bloggers who would like to use the information in this post to encourage support for IBC have my full permission to do so--just don't misrepresent my opinions.

***

I will repeat that I have personal reservations about contributing to IBC's work. The aspect of their rationale that asserts a premium importance on remembering the war dead transcends pro-Iraq War/anti-Iraq War opinion or editorializing, but in terms of material support I'm not sure the two are separable. I can, in good conscience, publicize what I agree are the worthiest portions of IBC's work and subject to reasonable criticism any editorial positions to which I object.

Would Ed Morrissey have picked this headline if Romney had been the Republican nominee?

clipped from hotair.com

Three women for McCain


Jun 23, 2008 9:45 AM by Ed Morrissey


173 Comments » | 2 Trackbacks

The Reform ticket?



Just wondering.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Iraq Body Count cutting and running? (Update x2: Staying the course but running behind)

I've wondered for a number of weeks what's going on with Iraq Body Count. Their graph of civilian deaths in Iraq has apparently not been updated since April 20. Maybe they update every four months? I guess that could be ... but there are other signs that activity at IBC has tailed off.



Above is an image from IBC of their civilian death counter embed. IBC invited visitors to use the embed to keep a running tally of deaths in Iraq. Just in case the clip I made actively updates, as of this posting it reads "85,141-92,871."


IBC's database page is likewise paused on April 20, which I take to mean that the counter isn't going anywhere since that time.

On the other hand, it's possible to find news accounts that include statements along these lines:
Iraq Body Count, a group that collates a tally of casualties from media reports, noted 752 civilian and police deaths in May, a grim figure but less than a third of the average last summer.
(Economist)
Additionally, I found news from early June (2008) reporting the IBC counter numbers as "84218 to 91889"--reflecting considerable activity this month if the figures were reported accurately and the IBC update was timely (as well as the June 2 news report containing it).

IBC gets full credit for attempting to do their work accurately and for its very reasonable criticisms of the so-called "Lancet" study, but it may be that the data coming from Iraq too markedly undermines editorial positions posted by IBC such as the following from Mar 18, 2007:
The daily violence remains Iraq’s greatest civil concern. The data we have presented over the last four years show that there has never been a sustained period when things have not been deteriorating on the security front. Contrary to statements from President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that there are ‘encouraging signs’ of progress in Iraq, and that ‘things are going reasonably well,’ the violence this last week was at the usual high levels. This innocent death toll is the blunt and ever-louder signal of a horribly failed policy. The US-UK designed military-interventionist “solution” for Iraq has clearly turned out to be no such thing. Talk of "civil war" should not disregard the US-UK policies which led to it, and the continued military presence, far from being a solution, is at the core of Iraq’s problems. The Coalition needs to finally begin handing control of Iraq back to Iraqis. If it keeps deferring this obligation, what hope is there that year five won’t be even worse than year four?
("Year Four: Simply the worst")
Has IBC packed it in or begun to pack it in as the Iraq War has neared its end?

Update:

Well this thing works, anyway:

blog it


Note the revised numbers since yesterday.

I've contacted Iraq Body Count and confirmed that they're just running behind a bit. Hopefully I can add more detail later.

Update 2:

See also
Update on Iraq Body Count

Bad news from Iraq

It's sobering to report in the midst of otherwise good news from Iraq, but evenhandedness demands it:
"Ee-rock 5, Ameriki zay-ro," he delighted in telling an American after Sufian Ali, 20, headed in one of his four goals. Added Abu Seif, mayor of the town of 8,500: "In the beginning we were dealing with terrorists. Now we see Americans and Iraqis play a soccer match-and that's a historic event."
(McClatchy News)
Our U.S. troops suffered a humiliating 9-0 defeat.

Wolcott censored? Not, says Vanity Fair editor

Vanity Fair was pleasingly prompt in answering my missive about the disappearance of a Wolcott blog. Editor Michael Hogan responded.
Dear Mr. White,

Thank you for your letter regarding the dropped posts in James Wolcott's Blog. This was the accidental consequence of a technical upgrade, and the dropped posts have been restored.

Best,
Michael
Hogan's e-mail to me was time-stamped 5:22 p.m. Compare a recent update at Romenesko:
An explanation
Posted by Michael Hogan 6/23/2008 5:34:12 PM

VF.com's editor here. We upgraded our blogging platform last week and experienced a few technical glitches. Among them: the inadvertent loss of two posts by Jim Wolcott, one on Bernard Goldberg and the other on the late great Cyd Charisse. They have been restored and can be viewed here: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/wolcott/
Roughly 10 minutes later, if the stamps are both accurate. Close enough for me to reasonably conclude that I contacted Vanity Fair about it before Romenesko.

I'll be looking for the Romenesko entry where he says "Well, of course Vanity Fair is going to restore it and say they didn't censor Wolcott after I blew the whistle on them."

See also:
Wolcott Censored?

War continues on the streets of Berkeley

The war of protest over the Marines' recruiting office, that is. Photojournalist "Zombie" continues to provide a view from the ground.



Wonder what banner that guy was helping support in the YouTube video?

clipped from www.zombietime.com
blog it


Zombie's caption:
When World Can't Wait first appeared on the scene a few years ago, they tried to pretend that they were an independent anti-war organization. But it wasn't long before the rest of us realized they were nothing more than a front group for the Revolutionary Communist Party. After a couple years of futile denials, WCW has recently given up even trying to hide their true agenda. Now they openly hold banners for the Revolutionary Communist Party at most of their public appearances (notice the "revcom.us" Web address).
The Daily Show visit to Berkeley is always worth a review, also.

It's hard to find good badness for the Sith Blogroll ... (Updated)

Newest Sith Blogroller "Comments from Left Field" is displaying an interesting tendency in the early going--a tendency to base conclusions on thin evidence.

First, last week's big prison break in Kandahar was supposed to be the final proof (if more was needed!) that the Taliban is making a comeback in Afghanistan, as I documented here alongside some of the evidence of the Taliban having a very tough go of it overall.

Today, Kyle E. Moore did the same sort of thing ("Kathy" was responsible for the Taliban post) in stating that a forthcoming book would provide the final proof that the GOP's entire election strategy would focus on smearing Barack Obama. Seriously.
Just in case the countless attempts to smear Obama thus far haven’t convinced you yet, a book scheduled to be released this August should make it abundantly clear that the right’s entire strategy for putting McCain in office is to positively bury Obama in mud.
Reality-based?

Moore goes on to challenge conservatives to make a positive case for McCain. In the comments accompanying Moore's post, I pointed out that Obama's legitimate weaknesses rightly help make a positive case for McCain. Moore apparently does not wish to countenance the possibility that Obama has legitimate weaknesses, as evidenced by his insistence on using the term "smear," which carries the connotation of slanderous attacks.

The key point about Obama, it seems to me, is that he doesn't really have any legitimate reputation. Any reputation he brought into the election (other than his reputation of limited experience) was based on the skinniest of track records. Moore's message might as well be don't challenge the image that Barack presents of himself--'cause that's wrong!

Moore ends up following the campaign playbook that some conservative bloggers have suggested Obama is peddling: Dealing with issues other than hope and change (or the like) are merely distractions from the campaign.

Moore apparently wants Obama to have his image the way he chooses it, and let that image be pitted in the campaign against that of McCain.

And if Moore decides to attack McCain ("it is yet another example of John McCain looking like a simpleton compared to Obama regarding the economy"), well, that's not really a smear because it's, like, true and stuff!

***

Update:
Quoth Moore:
So when can we expect the McCain hit book to reach the stands?


clipped from www.amazon.com
The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don't Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn't
blog it
How about yesterday, or thereabouts?


Hat tip to the left-fielders anyhow--I was overdue in adding the "Right-wing attack machine" tag with which to categorize posts.

Belmont Club update

The Belmont Club (of the Jedi Blogroll) has moved to Pajamas Media. Blogroll link updated accordingly.

Astros take 2 of 3 from Rays

The NL's Houston Astros cracked Tampa Bay's home dominance by taking two out of three games in a weekend series. All three games of the hard-fought series were decided by one run.

Roy Oswalt got the Astros off on the right foot with a strong pitching performance in the opener. The Rays squeaked out a win with a ninth-inning rally in the second game, making former Houston reliever Dan Wheeler the winner. Brad Backe outdueled Rays ace Scott Kazmir in the finale for a 3-2 victory.

The Rays continue to trail the Boston Red Sox by 1.5 games.

Evan Longoria had another good series against Houston, even spelling Jason Bartlett effectively at shortstop. Though Longoria has no shot at--and frankly does not deserve--All-Star consideration this year, he might finish the year as one of the top third basemen in the American League. Longoria is tied for the team lead in homers with Eric Hinske--both players have 12. Longoria has fielded his position a a Gold Glove level.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bloghopping

I ran into a blog called "Taylor Eats! a lot, apparently."

Taylor intends to tell people what she's eating. I'm slightly skeptical that food can serve as an enduring inspiration for a regularly updated blog. I don't think I could do it, and you wouldn't want me to. After the first week when I describe "cheese pizza" five different times you'd start to get sick of it.

You go, Taylor.

I should have said "eating food." I've run across plenty of blogs about baking and cooking.

Bush's place in history, revisited

Andrew Roberts has a column in The Telegraph (UK) reconsidering President George W. Bush's place in history. Roberts leads off with the Truman comparison before getting to specifics.

No one - least of all Bush himself - denies that mistakes were made in the early days after the (unexpectedly early) fall of Baghdad, and historians will quite rightly examine them. But once the decades have put the stirring events of those years into their proper historical context, four great facts will emerge that will place Bush in a far better light than he currently enjoys.

The overthrow and execution of a foul tyrant, Saddam Hussein; the liberation of the Afghan people from the Taliban; the smashing of the terrorist networks of al-Qa'eda in that country and elsewhere and, finally, the protection of the American people from any further atrocities on US soil since 9/11, is a legacy of which to be proud.

But didn't Barack Obama say that Bush has caused greater danger to Americans because of terrorism?

"The Great Seal of the United States of Obamerica"

blog it


Scott Johnson of Power Line has my favorite post on Obama's custom presidential seal thus far.

Grading PolitiFact: McCain and offshore drilling

The PolitiFact fact checkers continue their clowning ways, this time via an uncharitable analysis of Senator John McCain's position on drilling for oil and gas on the outer continental shelf.
SUMMARY: McCain uses today's high gas prices as the foundation for his pitch to lift the federal ban on offshore drilling. But while there may be many strong arguments for offshore drilling, oil experts and economists say relieving today's fuel prices isn't one of them.
Did McCain argue that offshore drilling would lower today's prices at the pump in the short term? Here's how PolitiFact's Robert Farley marshals the evidence:

When Sen. John McCain dropped his energy bombshell, calling for the federal government to lift restrictions on offshore drilling for oil, he began by noting the high price of gas these days.

“With gasoline running at more than four bucks a gallon, many do not have the luxury of waiting on the far-off plans of futurists and politicians,” McCain said in a speech on Tuesday in the oil hub of Houston, Texas.

“As a matter of fairness to the American people, and a matter of duty for our government, we must deal with the here and now,” McCain said, “and assure affordable fuel for America by increasing domestic production.”

Did McCain really begin dealing with the drilling issue by noting the high price of gas? One wonders how Farley calculated the beginning. The text of McCain's speech differs in some minor respects from the speech he delivered (which is normal), but McCain touches on offshore drilling in the 20th paragraph, and only after bemoaning shrinking domestic oil production (paragraph 17) along with the self-imposed hampering of that production (paragraph 19). McCain mentions the present price of oil in paragraph 25, and Farley takes that as an implicit argument that drilling on the outer continental shelf will bring down gasoline prices with some degree of immediacy.

The context of McCain's speech, however, shows that Farley is incorrect.

Quite rightly, I believe, we confer a special status on some areas of our country that are best left undisturbed. When America set aside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we called it a "refuge" for a reason.

But the stakes are high for our citizens and for our economy. And with gasoline running at more than four bucks a gallon, many do not have the luxury of waiting on the far-off plans of futurists and politicians. We have proven oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. And I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use.

We can do this in ways that are consistent with sensible standards of environmental protection. And in states that choose to permit exploration, there must be an appropriate sharing of benefits between federal and state governments. But as a matter of fairness to the American people, and a matter of duty for our government, we must deal with the here and now, and assure affordable fuel for America by increasing domestic production.

We should set the highest goals for ourselves for the years and decades to come, and I am a believer in the technologies that one day will free us from oil entirely. But to get there at all, a more pragmatic approach will serve us better. In the short term, we must take the world as it is and our resources where they are -- even as we press on with new and cleaner sources of energy. We must be bold in our plans to break our strategic dependence on oil, and over the next two weeks, I'll be offering a vision that will be bold. But we must also address the concerns of Americans, who are struggling right now to pay for gasoline, groceries, and other necessities of life.

Contrary to Farley's interpretation, McCain has made a broad case for increasing domestic production. Read reasonably, McCain is not saying that the price of gas will fall because of domestic drilling. He is saying that the current price of gas rightly justifies setting aside the moratorium now simply because the U.S. is going to need the resources later on in order to help keep oil prices reasonable. Farley obscures the intent of McCain's use of "short term" by omitting McCain's mention of an eventual transition away from oil-based energy (see the last paragraph quoted from McCain, above). Farley misleadingly omits that part and juxtaposes the mention of the present price of gas with the "short term" benefits of drilling, as if McCain is suggesting that such drilling will drop gas prices in the near term.

Back to Farley and PolitiFact:
The political momentum for offshore drilling has always risen and fallen along with gas prices. But while there are strong arguments that can be made in favor of offshore drilling, reducing the cost of gas “here and now” isn’t one of them, according to oil experts and economists - many of whom support the plan.
Contrary to what Farley implies above, McCain never suggested that drilling would reduce gas prices in the near term. McCain's statement regarding the "here and now" addressed the fact that the U.S. has considerable oil reserves along with policies in place that prevent their exploitation--again addressed in the fourth paragraph I quoted from the prepared text of McCain's speech.

Much of the remainder of Farley's piece consists of interview material apparently based on questions regarding a proposition that McCain did not make, namely that drilling would soon bring down the price of gasoline at the pump in the near term.
In fairness, McCain made many arguments when making his case for lifting offshore drilling bans - including enhanced national security. But he left little doubt that the fundamental impetus was to provide some relief to the high prices Americans are paying for gas “here and now.” And that argument holds little weight. We rule it False.
Farley wouldn't know "fair" if he was stuck for 12 hours in a dunking booth along Midway. If Farley had seriously acknowledged the entirety of McCain's argument than he could not have ruled on it as he did.

McCain gets the last word:
We cannot allow the world's greatest democracy to be complicit in such corruption and injustice. America's most vital interests call us to the mission of energy security, and so does our sense of honor. And the straightest, swiftest path to energy security is to produce more, use less, and find new sources of power -- so that no commodity can determine our security, and no crisis can undermine our economy.

***

Farley also enlists government reports to imply that even over the long term domestic drilling in currently forbidden areas would make little difference in the price at the pump. I'll delay evaluation of that part of the entry until later.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nice Chicago Tribune story on JLTV

With the hard-working Humvee showing its age, Uncle Sam is preparing to buy a new ride for America's soldiers.

That has touched off a hard-fought competition, with a dozen companies working in six teams to vie for the right to build the military's next-generation tactical vehicle. That list is scheduled to be cut in half next month, with the survivors entering a new phase lasting more than two years.
(Chicago Tribune)

The story goes on to review the nature of the competition and gives brief rundown of the competitors.

Wolcott censored?

Jim Romenesko of St. Petersburg's Poynter Institute wonders what happened to James Wolcott's blasting of Bernard Goldberg for supposed self-promotion in response to Tim Russert's tragic death.
Is Goldberg behind its disappearance? It'd be fun to know, considering Goldberg's endless preening on alleged media self-censorship and what he says is a lack of diversity of opinion.
It would also be fun to know if Wolcott self-censored in order to avoid having to deal with Chris Matthews' blatant self-promotion when he was interviewed by Keith Olbermann about his reaction to Russert's death (Russert was wrong about the Iraq war but I was right!).

Maybe somebody should ask.

I've sent the following query to Vanity Fair, which hosts Wolcott's blog:
The Poynter Institute's Jim Romenesko recently wondered online whether Bernard Goldberg had comments about him censored from James Wolcott's blog. Did Vanity Fair censor Wolcott or did Wolcott censor himself?
Meanwhile, that Romenesko entry looks pretty much like a short gossip column.

Navistar's MaxxPro snares series of gov't contracts

The introduction earlier this week of the Navistar's MaxxPro Plus has coincided closely with a series of big contracts meted out Friday by the Navy.

The series of five contract awards each consisted of a "firm-fixed-priced modification" to earlier delivery orders.

The orders totaled $707,017,416. Over $700 million. It would take over 700 Dr. Evils to extort that amount of money.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's the stupid economy

WASHINGTON: The slowdown in the US economy is not as bad as previously estimated, the International Monetary Fund said Friday, lifting its growth estimates slightly for 2008 and 2009.

The IMF forecast annual growth of roughly one percent in 2008 and 0.8 percent in 2009, compared with a prior estimate of 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

"The slowdown in activity in the United States has been less than feared, and recovery should begin next year as important headwinds are overcome," the IMF said in its annual review of the world's largest economy.
(The News)
Obviously Bush paid off these clowns to try to make it look like there's no recession. I mean, anybody who actually lives in the United States is going to realize how bad things are.

But seriously, it's kind of funny that while the Democratic Party is pushing the bad economy as its key issue the reports from the IMF declare that it isn't so bad. And while the Dem refrain of "The Iraq War is lost!" still reverberates, the Iraq War is being won.

Obama: Magic Man

With Obama's fantastic policy ideas dancing in my head, the Heart tune "Magic Man" appeared as the soundtrack. I decided to go with it and try my hand at a song parody.

Election season not long ago
Before I wrote this song you know
A pretty man came to me
He could paint the map blue
You know I could not run away
he seemed better than the Clinton team
It seemed like he knew me
He looked right through me, yeah
"Come on home, troops" he said with a smile
"I believe in hope and change
and I lead the voting by a mile
But try to understand
Try to understand
Tony Rezko didn’t buy my land
I'm a magic man."

The mainstream press sang in tune
Painted George Bush as a goon
Never think, no never
Let this spell last forever
Then Clinton’s numbers began to fall
she did not campaign well at all
Clinton says she's worried
He’ll need to grow up in a hurry, yeah

"Yes we can!" Obama replied to the crone
"I’ll meet with crazy despots without preconditions—all alone!"
"But try to understand how they see us in Iran!”
Try try try to understand
He's a magic man, Obama, ah ...
He's a magic man

"Come on home, troops" he said with a smile
"I’m a friend of Israel, my policies are not wild!
But try to understand, give the Palestinians more land!
Try to understand
Give in to all of their demands!”
He's a magic man! oh yeah
Oh, he’s got the magic hands

"Hope and change" he said with a smile
"I’ll stop that global warming
and make new jobs--a whole big pile!”
Don’t try to understand
It’s too great of a demand
keep your head under the sand
He's a magic man. yeah ... oh ...



Apologies to Sen. Clinton for the whole "crone" thing. I just couldn't pass up the rhyme in a problematic section of the song. Nothing personal--and it helps communicate the antipathy that built up between the two camps over the last six months or so.

Reuters: Plamegate, featuring the fruitless investigation by Fitzgerald "one of the biggest scandals" of the Bush administration (Updated/modified)

One for the editorial-masquerading-as-news department.

From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush did not know about a White House effort to leak the identity of a CIA agent but tried to protect staffers who were involved in one of the biggest scandals of his administration, former Bush spokesman Scott McClellan told Congress on Friday.

McClellan said he did not think Bush was involved in a 2003 effort to blow the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, whose husband had accused the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the Iraq war.
So. Even though no crime was discovered, there was a scandal. And not just a scandal. A big scandal. And not just a big scandal. Among the other (supposed) big scandals from the Bush administration, this was "one of the biggest."

Uh--what was the supposed scandal, Andy Sullivan?
But Bush, through his chief of staff, ordered McClellan to tell reporters that White House staffers Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby were not behind the leak, even though they both turned out to be involved, McClellan told the House Judiciary Committee.
This is not reporting. It is "reporting" editorial opinion as fact. This type of so-called reporting is an epidemic sickness in the mainstream press.

McClellan:
I do not know whether a crime was committed by any of the administration officials who revealed Valerie Plame's identity to reporters, nor do I know if there was an attempt by any person or persons to engage in a cover up during the investigation. I do know that it was wrong to reveal her identity, because it compromised the effectiveness of a covert official for political reasons. I regret that I played a role, however unintentionally, in relaying false information to the public about it.
Nice work, Scott. You're contradicting yourself.
So McClellan doesn't know if a crime was committed/it's wrong to reveal a covert identity for political reasons If that's not a crime then McClellan is using some careless language considering he's reading from a prepared statement.


This is the true beauty of Scott McClellan's book. It provides Democrats and their proxies in the mainstream press an excuse to continue spinning the facts surrounding the Valerie Plame saga.

RG-33 video clip



The RG-33 and the Caiman have been the forgotten MRAPs in terms of video news coverage despite BAE's recent dominance in terms of landing contracts (BAE manufactures both models).

MaxxPro Plus

This photo from the Navistar site pictures a MaxxPro MRAP with armor add-ons reminiscent of those protecting the Mastiff version of the Force Protection Cougar (used by the British). The accompanying story refers to this week's unveiling of the MaxxPro Plus ... so if the uparmored vehicle pictured is not the MaxxPro Plus--blame Navistar.
clipped from media.navistar.com

Those who derisively call the MaxxPro the "MaxRoll" may anticipate a further heightening of the center of gravity with the armor kit.

Rays sweep Cubs at the Trop

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays completed a three-game sweep of the visiting Chicago Cubs last night. The sweep spoiled a homecoming of sorts for Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who managed the Devil Rays from 2003 to 2005 before catching on with the Cubs.

Though the Cubs got to Rays pitcher James Shields to take a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning, the Rays stormed back in the bottom of the frame to take an 8-3 lead that stood through the ninth. Carl Crawford's grand slam highlighted the bottom of the seventh, though it was also of note that the normally reliable Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol suffered a horrendous time on the mound. Marmol led off the seventh inning by walking two batters and then beaning each of the next two batters to allow the Rays second run. That brought Crawford to the plate. Crawford then homered off of southpaw Scott Eyre, who replaced Marmol.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More on that Taliban comeback

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan and NATO-led forces killed or wounded hundreds of Taliban on Thursday in an offensive to clear the militants from the outskirts of Kandahar city, the provincial governor said.

NATO confirmed in a statement issued in Kabul that Taliban fighters, including many believed to have escaped during a mass jail break last week, had been routed from positions among the orchards and farms of Arghandab district, northwest of Kandahar.

(Reuters)

Seems like just a few days ago some in the reality-based community were assuring us that if we actually needed proof that the Taliban was making a comeback then the recent jailbreak was really all the proof that was needed.

The bloggers at Comments from Left Field helped accentuate the Taliban momentum with a follow up post:
Three days after about 400 Taliban fighters were sprung from Sarposa Prison in Kandahar, eight villages near that city are back under Taliban control.
And about three days later the Taliban got its butt kicked again. I'll look for the Comments from Left Field update on the continued Taliban successes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A little Rezko in Obama's approach to foreign policy?

A Richard Fernandez piece at Pajamas Media reports on a correlation between Tony Rezko's business interests in Iraq and Barack Obama's attitude toward the U.S. providing security in Iraq.
Barack Obama’s position on Iraq has shifted significantly over the last six years. What is interesting is how his position on Iraq matches up with developments in Chicago. Specifically, there appears to be a direct correlation between the rising and falling prospects of his longtime friend and fundraiser Tony Rezko’s attempts to secure multi-million-dollar contracts to build and operate a power plant in Kurdish Iraq and the senator’s Iraq flip-flops.
Click the hotlink above to read the whole thing.

Who's the worst person in the world, again? Part 2

Maybe now I know why Power Line did not line up the videos to illustrate Olbermann's perfidy as I attempted to do in part 1.

I provided the captions to the videos out of order, and apparently something in the embed codes disrupts my ability to edit the posts using the Blogger interface. Unhappy camping on this one.

Who's the worst person in the world, again?

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted about Keith Olbermann's interview of Chris Matthews after Tim Russert's death. Johnson's explanation of the sequence of events, while accurate, arguably obscures the depths to which Olbermann sinks.

With due acknowledgment to the work of others in bringing this story to the attention of the public, I think the most graphic way to reveal Keith Olbermann consists of showing three consecutive videos each is short) with minimal commentary.



Chris Matthews insults Tim Russert during an interview by Olbermann, essentially saying that Russert was duped into supporting the war (Mathews and Olbermann are well-known in opposition, so it's a nice little pat on their own backs).



Andrew Breitbart, on Fox & Friends, calls Russert a fair Democrat.



Olbermann names Fox the "Worst person in the world" for supposedly disrespecting Russert so soon after his passing.

Olbermann:
And our winners Fox News and its morning program--and this is not the usual nonsense; this is about class, or its lack.

You want to do a segment dismissing Tim Russert as a member of the liberal media, you want to feed the delusions of your viewers that the failures of their lives are fault of somebody else like TV news and not their own responsibility? You want find an excuse for the daily two minute hate? And this time it's gotta be Tim and whoever might succeed him?
Olbermann was correct about one thing. His segment was about lack of class. Olbermann lacks class.

The funny thing about Olbermann, who works his way onto my radar rarely enough, is his dizzyingly rapid descent into self-parody. Olbermann has fashioned himself into a grotesque caricature of Bill O' Reilly. Did jealously play a part in that self-transformation? I don't know Olbermann nearly well enough to even guess based on his personality, but it seems like a reasonable speculation on the face of it.

Rays take series from Marlins, beat Cubs in home series opener

The Tampa Bay Devil* Rays continue to trail the Boston Red Sox in the standings, but the team has continued to compete. The Rays took the weekend series against the second-place Marlins (NL East) two games to one, and on Tuesday took the opener from the NL's current top dog, the Chicago Cubs. The game was tight throughout, and the radio announcers appropriately highlighted the play of rookie third baseman Evan Longoria. Longoria may have put his rookie struggles at the plate behind him as his average has been on the rise (now at .249) and he has moved into a tie for second on the team in homers with 11.

It bears repeating that the Rays' pitching should keep them in contention for the playoffs all year. Team batting has been spotty but also timely. If Carlos Pena can regain last year's hitting form and catalyze the rest of the batting order there is no telling how far this team could go. Yes, it's a big "if" but the potential is obviously present.

Bernard Goldberg: Russert took media bias seriously

Journalistic bias has long remained one of my pet peeves (the elephant in a zoo of pet peeves). The effort Tim Russert put into his journalism was obvious, and Bernard Goldberg does a service by highlighting Russert's attitude.

Tim was a big proponent of diversity, but he wanted to go further than the usual stuff. "I am for having women in the newsroom and minorities in the newsroom -- I'm all for it. It opens up our eyes and gives us different perspectives. But just as well, let's have people with military experience; let's have people from all walks of life, people from the top-echelon schools but also people from junior colleges and the so-called middling schools -- that's the pageantry of America . . . You need cultural diversity, you need ideological diversity. You need it."

Tim understood that without that kind of diversity, journalism would be in trouble. He knew it wasn't good for journalism or America if almost all the people reporting the news lived and worked in the same bubble.

(The Wall Street Journal)

The ideal of objective news coverage has seemed to increasingly elude the mainstream media. The FOX take on European journalism--partisan but fair--seems best positioned to serve as the next dominant paradigm in U.S. news.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Taliban comeback?

A visit to Comments from Left Field confronted me with the reality (coming from the reality-based community could it be anything else?) that the Taliban is making a comeback in Afghanistan.

If there was any doubt that the Taliban have been making a comeback, the spectacular prison break at Sarposa Prison in Kandahar should put them to rest:

Afghan and international troops launched a desperate hunt Saturday for more than 1,100 prisoners NATO said escaped a jail in Afghanistan when Taliban rebels blasted it open.

The Taliban said 400 of its own fighters escaped when the rebels attacked the facility in the southern city of Kandahar late Friday with suicide bombs before shooting the guards.

Afghan authorities put the number of prisoners who fled one of the country’s biggest jails at 886, more than 380 of whom were Taliban.

Let's grant that the prison break was spectacular and a boost for Talibanian morale.

Making a comeback?
Kandahar, June 15: More than two dozen insurgents were killed in Afghanistan as security forces hunted for hundreds of militants who escaped from a prison after a brazen Taliban attack, police said on Sunday.

Afghan and international troops have been searching for more than 1,100 escapees who fled after the militant group blasted open the jail in the southern city of Kandahar late on Friday, killing several prison guards.
(ZeeNews)
South of the town of Garmser, where the desert horizon is an undulating blur of heat haze, British forces had faced the Taliban in a largely static war for two years. But in a month of fighting, with more than 100 separate engagements, the Taliban have been successfully pushed back after suffering about 200 dead.
(The Daily Telegraph)
U.S. Marines pushed the Taliban out of this village and the surrounding district in southern Helmand Province so quickly in recent weeks that they called the operation a "catastrophic success."
(Star-Tribune)

While at Base Delhi I saw a copy of the Guardian. The Pakistan correspondent had come down and done a few interviews and the headline on his story was "UK forces fighting losing battle" or some rubbish like that. The facts are simple. We are now dominating Garmsir. We have killed Taliban, taken no casualties and have now pushed and secured further south than any other British army unit. Garmsir is now opening its hospital again. If you ask the locals they said they thought they would never see it again. As I write this, the Taliban in our area of operations are in turmoil, taking heavy casualties every time they feel brave enough to pop up. I don't see this in any way as losing any battle.
(The Guardian UK)
The news on the ground in Afghanistan has been overwhelmingly bad for the Taliban this year. The prison break and Pakistan's increased wavering on pursuing cross-border Taliban movement serve as the only real bright spots for the enemy. The situation in Pakistan is the key to any hopes the Taliban might have of remaining a relevant force in Afghanistan.

The folks in Left Field perhaps support the war in Afghanistan--many on the left do--but they criticize the handling of the war. Ironically (?) the gripe is the lack of troops. Why aren't we trying the brilliant Democratic plan proposed for Iraq? Simply leave in order to encourage Afghan forces to step up and take charge.

The grousing from the left is misplaced. The strategy adopted by Petraeus in Iraq is largely being employed in Afghanistan with considerable success, though some of our NATO partners aren't entirely on board. And yet again the left is arguing the reverse of its Iraq argument: Instead of encouraging increased participation from our NATO allies, they want the U.S. to increase its role (if only all those U.S. troops weren't eradicating AQI a couple of countries away!).

Are the Left Fielders recommending an incoherent approach to foreign policy? Looks like it at first blush, anyway. But I like the feistiness I see from the site, so I'm bumping Alan Colmes' disappointing "LiberalLand" from the Sith Blogroll. Orson Scott Card will retain the position as top dog among the liberals, however, even though he supports the war.

Iraqi security forces expanding control

Iraqi forces will next month acquire the security control of the central Shiite province of Qadisiyah from the American military, a Defence Ministry spokesman said.

Qadisiyah would be the 10th of 18 provinces to be taken over by the Iraqi forces from the US-led foreign troops amid a push to transfer security control of the entire country to Baghdad.

"In July, we will take security responsibility of Diwaniyah (capital of Qadisiyah) from the multi-national forces," Major General Mohammed al-Askari said.

"We have prepared the required force to take this security responsibility,"

(Agence France-Presse)

Another line toward a completed story of success in Iraq.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blumneconomics VI

That piƱata of The St. Petersburg Times, Robyn Blumner, is back swinging from the twine with her vulnerable underbelly exposed.

Democratic shill that she is, Blumner is once again extolling Democratic economic policies, this time by repeating the thesis of liberal economist Larry Bartels of Princeton. Bartels, as Blumner tells it, says that Democratic presidents cause real income to rise for working folks.

Blumner doesn't bother telling you that Bartel's thesis is widely questioned, even by another of her liberal economist heros, Paul Krugman. And why should she tell you? Her purpose in writing isn't to help you learn about economics. She doesn't know a lick about economics anyway, so there's not much she could tell you in the first place.
So what does this all mean?

Inflation is good for the poor in the short run, since many poor are debtors. But inflation is bad for the poor in the long run. Just ask anyone who lived through the New Zealand inflation of the 1970s.

So Bartels could have entitled his key graph: "Democratic Presidents live for the short run and we need a Republican President every now and then."

(Marginal Revolution)

Put another way, Democrats pander to their key constituencies, and the associated policies do have short-run effects on working wages. Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, in a different post, tells of a business cycle theory that has long been invoked to explain the numbers.

McCain versus Obama on Iraq

Donald Douglas of the blog American Power has a nice rundown describing why "McCain's Won the Iraq Argument."
It's clear now that things are going so well in Iraq, that the antiwar left has gotten increasingly creative in its arguments for retreat, in furtherance of the movement's endless project of souring public opinion on the deployment.

Amazingly, the "
Bush-lied, people died" slur is still going strong among the surrender hawks, never mind that we're long past that leg of the debate, notwithstanding the New York Times' editorial efforts.

(...)

Well, now it turns out that the left's big antiwar smear is the permanent-bases, "neo-imperial" project slur, which is debunked by Abe Greenwald at Commentary:
(read the rest)
A win in Iraq will be a big win for America, not even counting our evil imperialist ambitions.

Iraqis sign electricity deal

Give a country a little bit of money (oil revenue) and a little bit of peace (Petraeus' surge strategy) and it can get on a roll.
Baghdad, Jun 14, (VOI) – The Iraqi Minister of Electricity signed a pre-contract with the leading technology company Siemens to supply the country with 3,200 megawatts of electricity and to set up a total of 27 electricity transfer stations.

(...)

Power supplies in Iraq have been sporadic since the second Gulf war and the U.S. bombing of Iraq's main power generating plants. The shortages across the country became even worse in the aftermath of 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country because of insurgent sabotage, rising demand, fuel shortages and provinces that are unplugging local power stations from the national grid. Outages make life almost unbearable in the summer months, when daily temperatures reach over 50C.
(Aswat Aliraq)
There were shortages in the country before the invasion? That will be news to some of my liberal friends.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Iraq violence update

As usual, I have used information from icasualties.org (Iraq Coalition Casualty Count) to develop some graphs reflecting trends in Iraq violence. I've added a third tracking graph, this one representing the average number of coalition troops killed per day over the course of each month. The monthly average makes early returns more useful, in that a mid-month average (right now for June 2008 the average is 1.23) can be reasonably compared to the previous month's average.





On the third graph, note that the beginning point is January of 2007. As one might expect, the yellow graph closely shadows the blue graph for the corresponding period.

RIP Tim Russert

Russert was capable of doing terrific interviews. The mainstream media will miss his presence and by extension so will consumers of mainstream media.

Rest in peace, Mr. Russert.

MRAPs and armor

I ran across an interesting tidbit touching the armor technologies used with MRAPs.

The MRAP has higher clearance and a curved hull below the vehicle, which serves to deflect explosions. Inside the vehicle, blast-proof seats are positioned up front to absorb the shock of an explosion for the driver and passenger seats, and in the back are shock-proof seats that stabilize soldiers in the event of an explosion, as long as they have their feet off the ground. Three- to 4-inch bulletproof glass accompanies armored steel plates that surround the vehicle — 5/8-inch on the top and doors and ½-inch everywhere else. The inside is coated with a liner made from

aluminum and Kevlar, which is designed to absorb an explosion if it breaches the steel.

“We switched to using steel armored plates instead of the original aluminum because steel is a much tougher metal, and we also realized that aluminum releases toxins that can kill soldiers when it becomes severely damaged. Steel does not have that effect,” said Littleton Cutler, a subcontractor for BAE, the designer of the MRAP that toured the plants and one of several contractors overall.

(dailylocal.com)

Implications for Alcoa and others helping supply aluminum plates?

The description in the story indicates the continued use of an aluminum interior lining, so apparently the amount of aluminum in the hull makes a significant difference in the potential release of toxins.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Willits versus Kazmir in the 7th

Not boxing. Baseball.

A key at-bat during the baseball game between the Devil* Rays and the Angels occurred in the 7th inning. Reggie Willits came to bat against Kazmir with the Rays leading 2-1, a runner at second base and two out. Willits worked Kazmir for a walk. Kazmir was visibly upset (trusting the radio announcers for that one) and Rays manager John Maddon was tossed for questioning the balls and strikes on his next visit to the mound.

Turns out I was wrong that Gameday disabled the visual at-bat histories. I just didn't work the interface properly the other day. Here is the Willits at-bat:



I added a vertical yellow line to aid in judging Kazmir's case. If the Gameday graphic is any sort of accurate guide, Kazmir looks like he has a good one. A pitcher throwing near the strike zone usually gets the benefit of the close call, and Kaz was unquestionably near the strike zone against Willets on every pitch. Kazmir got no benefit on pitches 3, 5 or 6, each of which was ruled a ball and each of which was arguably over the plate (by rule, only a portion of the ball needs to end up over the outline of the plate). Pitch 5 was in almost the identical location of pitch 6, by the way, accounting for the fact that you don't see it represented except by the edge of its outline.

It appears Willits got three favors from the ump.

Bad luck for the Rays, for there's no knowing how the later stages of the game were affected. But such is common to baseball. You just hope that mistakes even out over the long run.

And despite any mistakes by the umpire, here, I can only offer respect for the effort they give. Judging sports that involve rapidly moving objects seems extremely challenging to me.

But all things considered, I'd rather see this kind of thing happen to the Yankees than to the Rays.

Note: It occurred to me rather belatedly that Gameday images would be subject to copyright. That kind of takes the fun out of things, even if a fair use argument is plausible.

Michael Ware reports: Al Qaeda in Iraq

One of the world's top war reporters, Michael Ware, reports on AQI based on details centered around the capture of a huge cache of documents in Anbar province.

Al Qaeda's folder on Operation Desert Shield expresses the depth, structure and measure of its military command. It is perhaps the most compelling illustration of how al Qaeda works.

Yet the Desert Shield folder is but one found among the thousands of pages of records, letters, lists and hundreds of videos held in the headquarters of al Qaeda's security prince for Anbar province, a man referred to in secret correspondence as Faris Abu Azzam.

(CNN)

Ware reports on an AQI with a surprisingly strong command structure as of 2006, and an organization aware that its severe treatment of Iraqis spelled public relations trouble.


If Al Qaida is in Iraq when Barack Obama is president of the United States, will he go after them?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Eat crow, Iraq War skeptics"

Hugh Hewitt has rightly focused attention on a piece by historian Arthur Herman in the New York Post. Herman suggests that the Iraq war is the centerpiece of the current nadir of the success of radical Islamo-nazis. I believe the title of Herman's piece, reproduced as the title of this post, was supplied by the editors of the Post.

In short, the larger War on Terror may be reaching a tipping point similar to that of the Iraq war.

The US public and policymakers need to recognize how this happened - and draw lessons from this success.

1) We need to acknowledge that the Iraq war wasn't a "distraction" from the War on Terror, as critics still complain, but its centerpiece.

It's not mere coincidence that our success against al Qaeda globally comes along with success in Iraq. For all its setbacks and frustrations, the Iraq war drew jihadists into a battle they thought they could win, because it would be fought on their home turf - but which they're now losing disastrously.

(New York Post)

Herman's piece is in step with my post from May 31, to the effect that the outcome in Iraq may achieve our noblest aims even if at high expense, and that the public relations nightmare for AQI has had a ripple effect spanning the globe.

Make sure you sample the reaction of a liberal, courtesy of former avid commentator and now occasional visitor, Duane. Duane's type of reaction will be all too common as we proceed to election season, I suspect, living as he does with a picture of Iraq that is stuck in the time prior to the successful COIN approach by Gen. Petraeus.