Friday, October 31, 2008

The Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh JLTV: Why was it rejected? (Updated x2)

One of the favorites for the JLTV competition failed to make the first cut: the Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh entry based on the Millenworks Light Utility Vehicle.

Though I'm no expert in any aspect of the military hardware field, the media accounts of the JLTV competition offer a couple of clues.

The primary drawback mentioned in media accounts was the team's decision to use a diesel-electric drive system. News accounts compared the team's JLTV to the Toyota Prius, and relayed complaints from officials and congressional representatives that the technology was not mature.

However, that complaint seems dubious. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the drive system was closer to the type used in a diesel locomotive rather than the system used in a Prius. The description offered by Northrop Grumman of their system (the .pdf is gone, but Google preserves an HTML version) confirms this fact. The drawback with diesel-electric stems from the expense, not from any lack of maturity for the technology.

If officials rejected the Northrop Grumman entry based significantly on this complaint, then they may have made a mistake large enough to call a blunder, especially since a significant effort was made to distinguish the JLTV diesel-electric drive system from hybrid technology. Accordingly, I would expect Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh to appeal the final decision on that basis.

I wrote of a couple of hints regarding design drawbacks. The other hint was more subtle. Millenworks produced a LUV superficially identical to the Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh JLTV (see Update and Update II below). It may be that the Millenworks design did not sufficiently meet the parameters set by the Army. One could infer that the use of the Millenworks LUV indicated a shortcut to the JLTV prototype, and the shortcut in turn led to a less-than-glowing professional assessment of the bid.

Though I was pleased to have accurately predicted a strong entry from surprise winner BAE Systems/Navistar, I wouldn't want to see any of the three winners in that position because of any misconception about the diesel-electric propulsion system. The Army professed a desire for innovative thinking for the JLTV program. The idea of a diesel-electric power plant seems to perfectly fit that expectation. Hopefully the program gives strong consideration to the idea regardless of which three end up pursuing the final contract.


In the commentary section Tim W (an industry insider) offers that the resemblance between the Millenworks LUV and the Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh JLTV was, in fact, superficial. Given the thin evidence on which I postulated otherwise, it's reasonable to take the claim at face value.

Update II:

I erred in calling the Northop Grumman/Oshkosh JLTV prototype "superficially identical" to the Millenworks LUV, having confused Boeing/Textron with the former. That leaves my secondary suspicion about the rejection of the Northrop Grumman bid on even boggier ground.

New BAE/Navistar JLTV video

BAE Systems/Navistar wasted little time in getting a new video presentation to the Web. The video includes some shots of the vehicle interior and does a nice job of displaying the window design. Each window has the same shape, meaning that one replacement part serves to replace any damaged window. Smart design, if little loss in the function of the windows results.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grading PolitiFact: McCain opposed helping women earn equal pay for equal work

Just a reminder: Just because I end up reviewing a steady stream of colossal blunders by the staff at PolitiFact, that doesn't mean they don't do a good job from time to time.

This fact-check was simply on the top of the stack, as it were. I visited the PolitiFact Web site in search of something to critique and this one was at the top of the page. Another Robert Farley effort, as it happens.

In a direct appeal to women voters, a recent Obama campaign television ad features a handful of female supporters taking shots at Sen. John McCain. Borrowing from a common theme on the campaign trail, one of the women, Sherri Kimbel, calls out McCain on the issue of equal pay for women.

"In April, Sen. McCain came out against helping women earn equal pay for equal work," Kimbel said.

That is the entirety of the claim from the ad, at least on that subject. The ad offers two references in support of the claim in print of modest size ("Associated Press 4/23/08" "Senate Vote #110 4/23/08"). The fine print occurs under the following in easy-to-read big letters: "Against equal pay for equal work."
So we’re clear, McCain did not make some sort of public pronouncement in April that he is against helping women earn equal pay. To the contrary, McCain has repeatedly stated that he is for equal pay for equal work.
Huh. Really? Because the ad certainly offers the impression that McCain made some sort of public pronouncement in April that he is against helping women earn equal pay. So PolitiFact will rule this claim "False." Right? Well, not so fast ...
Kimbel is referring specifically to McCain’s opposition to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law designed to make it easier for women to sue their employer over unequal pay.
How would anyone know that without checking the pair of modestly-sized references in the ad? And is it fair to stretch opposition to "easier for women to sue their employers over unequal pay" into "Against equal pay for equal work"?

Farley then launches into a brief and one-sided review of the Lilly Ledbetter case. After that he writes about the reaction to the case:
Numerous women’s rights activists decried the ruling, arguing that it was unfair to expect that a woman would know within six months after her hiring or promotion that she was getting unequal pay.
However, in this case Ledbetter knew about the discrimination well before the statute of limitations would have prevented her from suing. That according to her own testimony.
A handful of like-minded officials in Congress quickly drafted legislation so that the 180-day window to file a suit could start with each new discriminatory paycheck, rather than when the person was hired or promoted.
Quick legislation sounds just great, doesn't it? In effect, the law would allow a person to sue for discrimination that occurred forty years ago, and all those involved in the original discrimination could be dead. How is the defendant in a case like that supposed to mount a defense? Via seance? Statutes of limitation exist for good reason, and Farley does note that the Republican objection to the Ledbetter Act was founded on those lines.

Although McCain was campaigning in New Orleans and not present for the vote, he told reporters at the time that he opposed it.

"I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems," McCain said.

"In April, Sen. McCain came out against helping women earn equal pay for equal work."

Do you buy it?
"That law waived the statute of limitations, which you could have gone back 20 or 30 years," McCain said. "It was a trial lawyer’s dream."

That’s not entirely accurate. The law would have started the 180-day clock on filing a discrimination lawsuit from the time "an unlawful employment practice" occurs, and would have included each time compensation is paid. The law stated that a person could seek relief including recovery of back pay for up to two years.

Farley's assessment is "not entirely accurate."

McCain is spot-on that the Act would have allowed a lawsuit to proceed for discrimination that occurred 30 years prior. Farley justifies his claim that McCain isn't telling the whole truth based on the Ledbetter law itself, which would have changed the law to make each supposedly unfair paycheck a renewed act of discrimination. But that argument overlooks the fact that there can be perfectly good reasons for people receiving differing pay for the same work. The practical effect of making each paycheck a potentially new instance of "unlawful employment practice" is to nullify the statue of limitations. Company A now becomes responsible for the acts of Company A thirty years ago with no means of fairly defending itself.

Farley then notes that PolitiFact graded Hillary Clinton "False" for a similar claim. Sexual discrimination in action?
The claim in the recent Obama campaign ad is more carefully worded, however. It includes a small print reference to the Ledbetter bill, and could reasonably be said to be a comment about McCain's position on that one bill. So its truth lies in the extent to which you believe MCain's position was "against helping women earn equal pay for equal work."
Is Farley saying the truth of the claim is subjective, or what? If the truth of claims is subjective then why would we need PolitiFact?

Farley implies that the subjective impression of the National Organization for Women is relevant.

That’s certainly the view of the National Organization for Women, which has endorsed Obama for president.

Equal pay laws have been fairly stable for decades, NOW president Kim Gandy told PolitiFact, and the Ledbetter bill was the most important piece of legislation in years to gauge congressional support for it.

I'm sure that's correct, in that left-leaning NOW can hammer McCain over the bill regardless of its merit or lack thereof. But it doesn't really address whether the Obama campaign's portrayal of McCain is objectively fair. And if there is no objective judgement then the whole "Truth-O-Meter" thing is a sham. The whole point of having a "Truth-O-Meter" is to suggest that there is an objective judgment of truth claims.
"It’s disingenuous to say ‘I support equal pay for equal work’ but then not support any way to enforce it legally," Gandy said.
Gandy is certainly correct, but at the same time it is no less disingenuous to claim that McCain would "not support any way to enforce it legally." In this context, Farley's story suggests exactly that of John McCain. He makes himself Gandy's "Billy Baloney." A puppet.
The wording of the claim in the ad makes our ruling tricky. Interpreted broadly, one might be led to believe that McCain made a decision to oppose any help for women getting unequal pay. And that would be misleading, because we are only talking about McCain's opposition to a single piece of legislation that would have eased the statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit over unequal pay — weighed against McCain's numerous pronouncements of support for equal pay for equal work.
Again, Farley's claim is not exactly accurate. The law would have entirely bowled, not "eased" the statute of limitations for cases where unequal pay was perpetuated over time. Farley mixes apples and oranges by mistaking the limitations on the scope of damages for a mitigation of the damage to the statute of limitations.
On the other hand, one could argue that the woman is simply stating an opinion about McCain's vote on the Ledbetter bill. McCain did oppose it. And one could certainly argue the bill was designed to help women get equal pay for equal work. And so we rule the statement Mostly True.
This is hilarious. Farley writes that there are two ways to look at it. Using one method makes the claim seem misleading (perhaps as bad as "Mostly False"?). The other method makes it "Mostly True." Farley chooses the latter and provides no justification for choosing one over the other.

Unbelievable. PolitiFact has disgraced itself yet again. Grade: F, for the utter failure to reasonably justify the "Truth-O-Meter" ruling.

Scott Montgomery edited Farley on this one, according to the credits, so he gets to share the "F" grade. Montgomery had to have seen that Farley offered no reason for taking one view over the other when making the ruling. Is editing done these days with a blind rubber stamp?

clipped from
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Three for JLTV; early call off by one

Early information regarding the three partnerships chosen for the JLTV development phase was apparently off by one, with the Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh entry failing to make the cut.
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 29, 2008) -- The Army announced today the awarding of three contracts for technology development on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Together, the three contracts are worth a combined total of approximately $166 million. They have been awarded to: BAE Systems Land & Armament Systems – Ground Systems Division, Santa Clara, Calif.; General Tactical Vehicles (A Joint Venture of General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. and AM General, LLC), Sterling Heights, Mich.; and Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego; Owego, N.Y.
BAE has two fingers in the pie, since the Lockheed Martin entry includes a partnership with BAE subsidiary Armor Holdings, Inc.

General Tactical Vehicles was an odds on favorite.

The first winner listed, BAE Systems, is the partnership between BAE and Navistar International. I like it that this partnership made the cut because it makes me look almost like I know what I'm talking about.

blog it


General Tactical Vehicles.

blog it

Lockheed Martin/Armor Holdings (BAE)
This is the most becoming of all of the images of the Lockheed Martin vehicles I've seen thus far (photo posted by Bettina Chavanne). This "Category A General Purpose Mobility Vehicle" doesn't look half bad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On diesel-electric and JLTV published a story about the impending JLTV contracts. I found the criticism of diesel-electric technology an interesting point.
If the report is correct, it marks a potential victory for Prius-style hybrid designs at the Pentagon: The Northrop-Oshkosh entry is built around a diesel-electric power train. Many observers -- and members of Congress -- have expressed skepticism about the maturity of hybrid technology for military vehicles.
It seems to me that the proposed application of diesel-electric power to the JLTV prototypes has more in common with the diesel locomotive. Diesel locomotives typically use a great big diesel engine to run electric generators which in turn provide the motive force for the driving wheels. The concerning part of "hybrid" technology, as I understand it, concerns the batteries used to store generated power in a vehicle such as the Prius. The advantages of diesel-electric to the JLTV program go way beyond fuel economy, with the two most obvious being no need for a transmission and drive train and the considerable power the system can develop.

On the other hand, the JLTV is also expected to provide energy for a variety of applications (such as the communications boxes that one of the required configurations is intended to acommodate). In any event it appears that the vehicles will have to go out on a bit of a technological limb to provide that capability.

Quickie update:

Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh believe the design gives them an enormous power advantage. Noting that specifics are competitive sensitive, Taylor said: "This technology provides not only exportable power but also a great deal of power to the vehicle, which means agility, performance, and the ability to deal with payloads, such as the C4ISR systems it carries."

The design also offers more flexibility and modularity and the ability to tailor engineering solutions. Since diesel-electric power eliminates the need for a transmission and conventional drive train -- the so-called "doghouse" and drive shaft hump -- engineers can tailor and create a more spacious and efficient crew compartment with optimal armor protection.

10-29-08 Edited to make the root word "common" less common.

Obama's credit card donation policy: Morrissey brings the hammer

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air sums up the big problem with team Obama's credit card donation policy, commenting on a Washington Post story on the issue.

There is only one reason to deliberately choose to bypass those security processes, and that’s to facilitate fraud. Team Obama claims that they vet the donations after the fact, but that’s hogwash. It costs far more to do that than to screen for security codes and address verification up front, and everyone knows it. Obama counts on the fact that most of the fraud will fly under the radar of its victims, and the only cost they’ll incur is when they have to process refunds after getting a specific complaint.

This is a key, revelatory moment about Obama and his team. They have deliberately chosen to make it easier for people to defraud the public so that they can ring up millions more in a campaign that has already broken records for fundraising. It’s unethical, dishonest, and dangerous — especially since these will be the same people with their hands on tax records if Obama wins this election.

The point about the far greater ease of screening donations at the front end is a good and devastating point.

The picture of Obama's executive experience was just made clearer, and Obama is the one who suggested that administering his campaign served as an example of executive competence.

In an interview on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, Obama was asked about whether his experience in the U.S. Senate dealing with weather-related situations compares to Palin’s executive experience running the state of Alaska and as the small town mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

“My understanding is that Gov. Palin’s town, Wassilla, has I think 50 employees. We've got 2500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe 12 million dollars a year – we have a budget of about three times that just for the month,” Obama responded.


And just look at the huge revenues he was able to bring in by disabling credit card screening. Now isn't that the type of competence we need in the executive office?

"Fox and Friends" gets on Obama's fund-raising

The Obama campaign's suspicious disinterest in ordinary protections against credit card fraud is slowly coming to the increased attention of the media--this time on Fox News via "Fox and Friends."

Hat tip to Power Line.

DefenseNews with JLTV winners

Just hours ago, Kris Osborn of named the winners of the first round of the JLTV competition--at least according to his unnamed sources.

The story ends up naming the odds-on favorites in the competition, minus one pairing that I would have squeezed in as a favorite based on its success with the MRAP programs: Navistar/BAE Systems.

That leaves the other heavyweights AM General/General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh and Lockheed Martin/BAE Systems (Armor Holdings).

It won't be long before we know how reliably Osborn's sources spoke.

Obama, WBEZ and wealth redistribution

Fox News has a (poor) transcript of the Barack Obama audio from WBEZ's discussion on the courts and civil rights. I've been hunting for one ever since the story hit regarding Obama's statements about wealth redistribution.

A number of commentators stated that Obama advocated the courts for the role of getting the government into the role of wealth redistribution. None of the individual snippets appeared to support that interpretation, and it doesn't come through with more context, either.

Some commentators from the left have tried to suggest that Obama neither advocates the courts for the role of redistributing wealth nor expresses the opinion that redistributing wealth is called for in the first place. That view, I think, doesn't fly.

It is certainly true, however, that Obama was speaking in a limited context and as such the radio material does a poor job of showing him as a full-fledged Marxist. On the other hand, the audio clips have been fair in pointing out a socialist streak in Sen. Obama's thinking. Otherwise, there simply isn't any good reason for Obama to detect a tragedy in the history of the civil rights movement in that it failed to press its ends through legislation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Australia in on JLTV program

Via The Australian:
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon is expected to announce today that Defence will join the technology demonstration phase of the US Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program by which the Pentagon plans to replace more than 60,000 Humvee vehicles in the US army and marine corps from 2012.
The story appears to suggest that Australia will fork over some of the money required to achieve a robust testing program. I see nothing concrete in the story that would confirm that the Australian government or Australian firms would contribute to the development of the JLTV via vehicle design and manufacture, at least during the development and testing phase.

Politico on bias in the press

John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei of Politico wrote a take on the bias in the press against John McCain, titled "Why McCain is getting hosed in the press."

The writing team makes partial use of a traditional defense, stating that ideological bias counts for little because reporters set their own opinions aside so easily. I would say that may be true for the best journalists. But to a large extent one can tell the best ones from the pack by the way they report. I'm talking about the use of non-essential descriptive adverbs in news stories. If reporters allow things like that to creep into their writing, then the chances are good that political opinions can also find their way past the objective filter.

Harris and Vandehei check their own bias on that point.
If that causes skeptics to scoff, perhaps they would find it more satisfying to hear that the reason ideological bias matters so little is that other biases matter so much more.
They seem to be saying it isn't that reporters lean to the left in this case, but something else.
This is true in any election year. But the 2008 election has had some unique — and personal — phenomena.

One is McCain backlash. The Republican once was the best evidence of how little ideology matters. Even during his “maverick” days, McCain was a consistent social conservative, with views on abortion and other cultural issues that would have been odds with those of most reporters we know. Yet he won swooning coverage for a decade from reporters who liked his accessibility and iconoclasm and supposed commitment to clean politics.
This explanation is plausible on its face, but it is just as easily regarded as reporters classifying McCain as an unusually "good" Republican, and then getting nasty when their past apparent errors come to light. In other words, the non-ideological explanation in turn may have its roots in ideology.

On a shallower level, I tend to agree with Harris and Vandehei that most reporters try to report fairly. What I read in the press (not via scientific sampling, unfortunately) leads me to believe that many reporters and editors simply aren't very good at objective reporting in the first place. And it's enough to make a pretty noticeable difference even if we were to allow that "most" reporters actually succeed at reporting with their bias minimized.

Harris and Vandehei make a few other points as well. Readers interested in the issue of journalistic bias may want to read the whole story.

JLTV contract announcement delayed again

Kris Osborn of InsideDefense reports that the JLTV contract announcements will be delayed in order to forestall objections from firms whose bids were rejected. Click the link for details (Google lists it as a subscription only link, but I don't ordinarily experience any difficulty in having it appear in my browser. Your mileage may vary).

Monday, October 27, 2008

And now a sentence from Shawn Macomber

One of Shawn Macomber's paragraph-length sentences appealed supremely to my taste for contrast.
Alas, the frantic haste with which Obama's supporters have sought to cast him as the Nanny State übermensch -- so flawless, so supremely well-equipped to seize the nation back from evil Republican mole-men that he can reduce upper middle class white women to tears faster than Oprah -- reveals a latent insecurity regarding the actuality of Obama and his qualifications, never mind the cognitive dissonance of trumpeting a candidate as preternaturally singular while simultaneously accusing anyone who dares question the transcendental specimen's Everyman status of xenophobia, of racism, of an invidious invocation of The Other.
(The American Spectator)
Indeed. Good work, Macomber.

Bitter pills

I'm enduring another difficult weekend for Tampa Bay sports.

The Bucs lost to the Dallas Cowboys in very disappointing fashion.

When you're facing the venerable Brad Johnson instead of Tony Romo, you can't go out and lose the game. Sure, the officials gave the Cowboys some key assistance on their lone touchdown drive near the end of the first half, but the Bucs had ample opportunity to earn the win in spite of it and just plain came up short. Some credit obviously goes to the Dallas defense, but at the same time I'm sure that the Bucs will feel that they left points on the field other than Matt Bryant's errant 51 yard field goal try.

Oh unhappy day. And it would get worse.

The Devil*Rays followed up Saturday's disappointing loss by losing again to the Phillies on Sunday.

The loss on Saturday/Sunday morning was tough to take mainly because the team gave it away in the ninth inning. The loss on Sunday night was aggravating because the Rays really needed this one and because the umpires played too big a part.

Yes, Carl Crawford should have been out at first on that nifty play by Jamie Moyer during game three. And yes Moyer had three balls called strikes in the first inning (none particularly close, by my reckoning), though the umpire called a better game after putting the idea of a giant strike zone in Rays' hitters minds for one inning. Overall the Phillies played better, and the umpiring wasn't notably lopsided.

In the fourth game, however, Andy Sonnanstine simply wasn't getting the same type of calls that the Phillies pitcher was getting. Be it low, right, left, Joe Blanton had an excellent shot at a strike while Sonnanstine would just have to throw closer to the middle of the plate to get a strike called. The umpire had Sonnanstine on the ropes on the mound and Rays hitters tied up at the plate and dictated the tone of the game as a result.

Some of my outrage was tempered by the eventual margin of victory. The Phillies first run was scored by a runner who had been tagged out at third but got a reprieve from the myopic third base umpire. A one-run victory by Philadelphia would have really steamed me.

So. Not to take too much credit from the Phillies. The 2-1 lead in the series was earned, and I can't produce evidence that the Rays would have won with the game called perfectly. I just enjoy the games less when the umpires meddle with things.

One additional note: That graphic Fox uses to show the ball in relation to the plate (lower right of the screen, on occasion) is pretty much useless. Sometimes it accidentally agrees with the actual position of the ball in relation to the plate, but more often it seems to match the spot where the catcher caught the ball.

May 16, 2011:  Fixed various misspellings of Andy Sonnanstine's last name.   Sorry, Andy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No story here? Giving to Obama campaign is easy

Barack Obama's great success at fundraising has been no secret.

His ability to raise more funds in the Democratic Primary than then-frontrunner Hillary Clinton put considerable focus the fund-raising magic, and eventually led to Obama's decision to forgo public financing in spite of his pledge to the contrary.

In turn, the mainstream press has dutifully noted Obama's month-by-month clobbering of McCain in the realm of fund-raising while noting the Illinois senator's record-breaking numbers.

Underneath that big story, however, lie other stories that the mainstream press has failed to plumb.

As growing numbers of bloggers are discovering, it is remarkably easy to donate to the Obama campaign.

National Journal very recently took notice with a story on the subject:
To test the campaigns' practices, this author bought two pre-paid American Express gift cards worth $25 each to donate to the Obama and McCain campaigns online. As required by law, the campaigns' Web sites asked for, and National Journal provided, the donor's correct name, location and employment. The cards were purchased with cash at a Washington, D.C., drugstore, and the campaigns' Web sites were accessed through a public computer at a library in Fairfax County, Virginia.

The Obama campaign's Web site accepted the $25 donation, but the McCain campaign's Web site rejected it.
Why the difference? Bloggers (such as Ed Morrissey at Hot Air) have explored the issue, reporting that online campaign donations are comparable to online retail. They report that the Obama campaign is evidently not even using the ordinary safeguards that prevent credit card fraud.

NewsMax, which has yet to establish a record of reliability, also published a story on political contributions. The NewsMax story focused on suspicious FEC filings, and lo and behold the facts appear suspicious indeed. Take one of the examples from the NewMax story, Jerry Rubin of Whitefish Bay, Wis. From what I understand, the Obama campaign is responsible for making the FEC filings, and one of the filings mentioning Rubin has his tab for the election cycle at $6900. That's well in excess of the maximum $2300 per year, representing three years' worth of maximum annual donations in just one election cycle. But there's more. That filing was from January of 2008. The same Jerry Rubin is listed with another $2300 contribution in June, and the Obama campaign updated the total accordingly on the FEC filing: $9200 for the election cycle.

What's going on, here?

Whatever it is, it isn't an isolated event.

So much for Obama's administrative ability as reflected in campaign organization, eh?

Lockheed Martin JLTV video

I tried comparing this video to an earlier one I posted to see if it was the same, but the old one (at YouTube) is no longer available.

So if this one is the same, I don't apologize.

More Bush baloney from Blumner

Perhaps realizing that she'll have to get it out of her system, St. Petersburg Times editorial columnist Robyn "Blumñata" Blumner fired another errant rhetorical blast at soon-to-be-ex-president George Bush.

Blumner's awful offal offering coalesces around Guantanamo.
Guantanamo is one royal fiasco. It remains open even though Bush said more than two years ago that he'd like to see it close. The holdup is due to all the thorny legal issues surrounding the remaining 255 or so prisoners. Issues such as, how do you prosecute a prisoner when the ostensible evidence against him was elicited through torture or torture "lite"? Issues that are a direct consequence of Bush and his vice president's approval of prisoner abuse, ghost detainees, rendition and indefinite detention without charge.
No doubt Blumner and other horizontal left-leaners would like for Guantanamo to eventually result as a royal fiasco. But if the United States was to keep captured terrorists without letting other nations keep them for us (resulting in rendition complaints), then something along the lines of Guantanamo was needed. Bringing prisoners to the United States proper would have increased pressure for such prisoners to be treated with full Constitutional rights, something such prisoners only deserve if the Constitution doubles as a suicide pact.

Blumner, like a stopped clock hitting the right time once or twice per day, gets it right when she says that legal issues keep Guantanamo open--many of the same ones that made Guantanamo or something like it necessary in the first place.

As for Blumner's recommended example, "how do you prosecute a prisoner when the ostensible evidence against him was elicited through torture or torture 'lite'?, it's easy. You simply remember that Constitutional rights apply primarily to U.S. citizens and not to foreigners engaged in terrorism. You don't need to read a member of al Qaeda a Miranda warning when you capture him in Afghanistan. He is not entitled to a phone call. And unless he's wearing a uniform along with a number of other qualifying aspects, he need not be treated as a POW according to the Geneva Conventions.

The end of the Blumner paragraph quoted above makes pretty clear that she considers the failure to treat Guantanamo detainees far better than the law requires a problem, even if it were agreed that waterboarding should be a forbidden torture method. After all, only three confirmed cases of waterboarding have occurred, and there are more than three prisoners at Guantanamo.

But lest we distract from the Bush-bashing:
But Bush has never acknowledged that opening Guantanamo as a legal black hole to dump terror suspects potentially for the remainder of their lives was a mistake. The closest he's come is to express exasperation. Back in June 2006, Bush told reporters in Vienna after a summit with European Union leaders, "I'd like to end Guantanamo. I'd like it to be over with."
Is there some reason why Bush should admit that it was a mistake? Don't readers of the Times want to know nearly to the extent that National Enquirer readers do? Don't keep us in suspense, Blumñata!
It was a feint, an appeaser's answer. Bush never intended to act. As reported last week by the New York Times, Bush "never considered" options that were drawn up by the Pentagon and State Department for closing the prison camp. Our feckless president's modus operandi for his last months in office is to hand off the baton, so that none of the disastrous fallout from his policies appears to accrue to his presidency.
But keep us in suspense she does, while accusing Bush of insincerity with insufficient grounds. Blumner claims that Bush "never intended to act" but no good evidence supports that accusation. Yes, The New York Times paraphrased anonymous administration officials to the effect that the president never considered specific plans for closing Guantanamo. And the Gray Lady also provided the flaw in the argument Blumner uses to suggest that Bush didn't mean it:
Mr. Bush’s top advisers held a series of meetings at the White House this summer after a Supreme Court ruling in June cast doubt on the future of the American detention center. But Mr. Bush adopted the view of his most hawkish advisers that closing Guantánamo would involve too many legal and political risks to be acceptable, now or any time soon, the officials said.
How could Blumner leave that part out unless she was deliberately trying to deceive her readers? Sure beats me. Maybe she only read or remembered the portion of the story that pleased her. Or perhaps I should just skip evidence and draw my conclusions the same way Blumner draws hers: Blumner is a bald-faced liar.
We know that the remaining Guantanamo prisoners will have to be released or tried under a fair process. Some have now been held for longer than World War II raged. But Bush will leave that difficult job to someone else.
The Bush administration used what has been considered a fair process in the past. The federal court system ignored precedent and found military tribunals unsatisfactory. That decision threw a monkey wrench into the works. Perhaps only if Bush had made the court's decision could Blumner have criticized it and fixed there the blame for the current difficulty surrounding Guantanamo detainees.

Note she's all over Bush for not getting the job done (not for lack of trying, if Blumner were fair about it) while at the same time hinting at sympathy for the next president who will inherit this "difficult job."

See how difficult it gets after the next domestic terror attack.
Then, if a dangerous prisoner ends up being released, fingers will point to the president who insisted on due process.
Due process is a constitutional right. In war, we kill people regularly without due process. It is insane to apply constitutional due process to the conduct of war, and detaining enemy combatants is part of the conduct of war. In short, it would be entirely appropriate to point fingers at the dope of a president who insists on due process for enemy combatants.

And until that happens we can at least still point fingers at a dope of an editorialist who advocates that type of stupidity.
But no matter how many former detainees may turn violently against the United States, the danger cannot compare to that caused by the very existence of Guantanamo and the explosive anger it has stoked in the Muslim world.
The anger in the Muslim world over Guantanamo doesn't seem any greater than that caused by cartoons that feature Islam's prophet, from what I can see. Far less, if anything. Perhaps President Bush should turn his attention to that thorny legal problem, for if the anger over Guantanamo is explosive then the potential anger caused by printing Muhammad cartoons is surely thermonuclear.

Perhaps it should occur to Blumner that Islamic anger may be channeled for the purpose of advancing radical Islam. But I doubt it will. Blumner has the advance of her own ideology on which to focus; facts such as the world wide cartoon riots are part of a blurry background if they aren't Photoshopped out of the picture entirely.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Textron/Boeing/Millenworks JLTV

The Textron/Boeing/Millenworks JLTV did indeed turn out pretty much as a dead ringer for the Millenworks Light Utility Vehicle. This YouTube video features a good bit of action footage along with the company's description of its entry in the competition.

This entry, judging from appearances, is at the other end of the spectrum from the AM General offering in terms of visibility from the driver's seat.

The vehicle also looks particularly nimble.

I wonder how it stacks up in terms of payload and towing capacity?

Given that the Millenworks LUV has been in development for some time, I can't help but wonder if some version of it will compete for the transitional vehicle order that is supposed to span the gap between the Humvee/MRAP and the JLTV.

Pentagon opts for armored vehicle patch

Instead of making the expected announcement of three JLTV contracts, the Pentagon announced its decision to prolong the JLTV competition while purchasing vehicles representing the transition between MRAPs and the JLTV, Kris Osborn reports for
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps plan to rapidly develop and buy a fleet of 7- to 10-ton vehicles intended to fend off increasingly frequent roadside bombs yet be more mobile than MRAPs, a senior Pentagon official said.
And what vehicles might the Pentagon order during the interim period?
Army, Marine Corps and Pentagon acquisition officials are eyeing potential candidates, including Oshkosh's Sandcat and Force Protection's 7-ton Cheetah vehicle. Pentagon acquisition chief John Young plans to meet with Army and Marine Corps vehicle programmers, after the military announces the winners of three development contracts for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) early next week.
View the Oshkosh Sandcat here.

As for the Force Protection Cheetah, its parent company has been peddling it already as a light MRAP and as the apparent basis for the company's JLTV proposal.

Osborn's story goes on to mention that the JLTV development contracts are expected within a week. If the selection of the interim vehicle has bearing on the award of JLTV contracts, then Force Protection may have gained a slight advantage; enough to burnish its underdog status a bit, anyway. I don't know if that is how the Pentagon intends to play this one.

O'Reilly nails a CNN flub

Interviewer Drew Griffin blew it, and Bill O'Reilly nailed CNN on the mistake. Good work, O'Reilly. This is why Keith Olbermann wishes he was you.

World Series moves to Philadelphia tied 1-1

The Tampa Bay Devil*Rays evened the best-of-seven World Series 1-1 with a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. James Shields pitched 5.2 shutout innings to pick up the win. Rookie left-hander David Price finished off the Phillies while allowing two runs.

Because the Hammels-Kazmir matchup was the worst one for the Rays, in my view--because Hammels is that good--I expected the series to return to Philly knotted at one. The next two pitching matchups favor the Rays, though Jamie Moyer can be tough. I expect the Rays to take two of three from the Phillies up there. And if the Rays win the first two they have a shot at a sweep, since I expect the team to hit Hammels better the second time around.

I found this analysis from rather intriguing:
A sweep of three games at Citizens Bank Park, starting with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday, would give Philadelphia its second World Series championship, while anything less than a sweep brings the series back to Florida.
Writer Ken Mandel's analysis conflicts with mine. My calculations indicate that the Rays can win the World Series by winning all three games in Philadelphia, and that would mean no more games in Florida.

You might want to have your abacus checked, Ken.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Initial JLTV contracts "imminent"

Word has it that contracts for the Pentagon's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) contest will be announced any day now, perhaps after the close of business tomorrow. A source in the program office tells DANGER ROOM an announcement is "imminent"; competitors are saying the same thing.
The story is accompanied by a photo of a vehicle that matches the Millenworks Light Utility Vehicle in appearance, but is credited to Textron/Boeing. As Millenworks is also associated with that JLTV partnership, a close resemblance between the Textron/Boeing JLTV and the Millenworks vehicle should not surprise.

Blumner's airport security plan

Robyn "Blumñata" Blumner, the St. Petersburg Times editorial columnist that some call a "wactivist," got scanned at the airport.

She objected to it. And we get this week's column: "Government, don't dare scan my body"

It seems like just a few weeks ago that Blumner was saying that the government is the greatest thing about America, bar none.

Apparently the new-fangled scanners provide an exceptionally detailed image of the human body under the clothing--the fulfillment of the X-ray specs often advertised in comic books once upon a time, though assuredly more expensive.

Blumner correctly pointed out that those using the imaging machines might well misuse the image despite precautions built into the system (I'd allow that where there's a will there's a way). Therefore she shouldn't be scanned.

So ... how should security workers use the machines? Blumner doesn't say, but she hints that the scans should be used only on people suspected of being terrorists or smugglers.
Here is the inevitable: You give people with routine jobs the ability to rummage around in other people's intimate lives — innocent people who are not suspected of anything — and bad stuff happens. Privacy goes out the window, boys will be boys, the rules, law and even the Constitution don't stand a chance.
But if people are suspected of being smugglers or terrorists already then why bother with the scans? Just search them via normal means.

It seems to me that Blumner's view would make the scanners obsolete before they're even used. The idea is to catch the ones who ordinarily don't raise sufficient suspicion to warrant being searched. It's constitutional if the search is reasonable, and protecting airline passengers in an age of terrorism makes quite a few methods very reasonable indeed. But perhaps the airlines should take over security themselves so that it isn't a constitutional issue.

Most likely Blumner would object to any means of narrowing suspicion that might qualify as profiling. The Constitution, as she views it, is a suicide pact.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Orson Scott Card calls out mainstream media

To my shame, Power Line beat me to highlighting an excellent essay by Democrat-with-a-mean-conservative-streak Orson Scott Card, ensconced at the top of my Sith blog roll.

The essay isn't even his latest, but it's certainly worth attention.

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

Card provides much more detail along with stinging criticism of the media. Though some news stories, such as one I reviewed from The St. Petersburg Times, do mention the role of relaxed lending standards in bringing on the subprime mortgage crisis, Card rightly points out that a great deal more news reporting could have and should have come out of the situation.

John Hinderaker might be interested to know that Card is a Mormon and a science fiction writer in addition to being a conservative Democrat and columnist.

Against Obama

Mary Katherine Ham and Guy Benson, known to Hugh Hewitt radio show listeners as "The Young Guns," have collaborated with editor/contributor Ed Morrissey of Hot Air to present a brief but comprehensive argument against Barack Obama as president.
What follows is by no means comprehensive, but it does shed some much-needed light on a number of Obama’s positions, statements, and associations about which he has been less than honest. We’ve attempted to boil each issue down to a succinct explanation with an accompanying, brief video clip—often starring Barack Obama in his own words. Before pulling the lever for someone who hopes voters will ignore his paper-thin resume, unsavory associations, and hard-left voting record, each citizen has a duty to do his due diligence.
(please read it all)
In short, we hope this “closing argument” is compelling and clear, and we encourage you to share this essay with undecided or wavering family members, friends, and co-workers.
The multimedia essay is along the lines of what I would have liked to do instead of my considerably shorter and less detailed endorsement of John McCain's presidential bid.
Much thanks to the three involved for the good work.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One more time: Devil ray is a real fish

Thanks to a precious attempt at clever writing at, I thought I'd take advantage of the pause prior to the start of the World Series by reminding everyone that the "devil ray" for which the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were named is a real fish, not some attempt to meld the depths of Hades with the depths of the ocean.
clipped from
Order - Myliobatiformes
Family - Mobulidae
Genus - Mobula

Species - hypostoma

Atlantic devil ray

This is supposed to pass for cleverness:

Devil all fired up about Rays winning

Hades resident bitter that Tampa Bay made it to World Series

The anonymous thing was probably a good idea.


Paul H. Rubin writes on the potential parallels between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Barack Obama.

In 1932, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president as the nation was heading into a severe recession. The stock market had crashed in 1929, the world's economy was slowing down, and all economic indicators in the U.S. showed signs of trouble.

The new president's response was to restructure the economy with the New Deal -- an expansion of the role of government once unimaginable in America. We now know that FDR's policies likely prolonged the Great Depression because the economy never fully recovered in the 1930s, and actually got worse in the latter half of the decade. And we know that FDR got away with it (winning election four times) by blaming his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, for crashing the economy in the first place.

Rubin isn't the first to note the parallels in the election scenario. He may be the first to note in the context of the comparison that Obama is already blaming the economic problems on the other party. Read the whole of it.

I've been making a similar case lately over at the Center For Inquiry message board. The response from "Mriana," though anecdotal, may be instructive:
FDR was a good pres. He did not prolong the Depression, but rather instituted programs that helped to get us out of the Depression.
I wonder what programs she had in mind, other than World War II?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Devil*Rays advance to World Series

The Tampa Bay Devil*Rays knocked off their second straight playoff opponent named for hosiery with a 3-1 home victory over the Red Sox, advancing to the 2008 Major League World Series in the process. And clear a space for an American League pennant.

I predicted that the Rays would win the series if they played to their potential in the final two games. I don't think the Rays played quite to their potential in either game six or game seven. The Red Sox earned the win in game six without much help from the Rays other than over-aggressiveness at the plate. The Rays held on to win game seven despite another error from regular season MVP Jason Bartlett, thanks in great part to another sensational pitching performance by Matt Garza.

The Rays also got some benefit from the home plate umpire in the last two innings, which I have little doubt will lead to bitter complaints by Red Sox fan.

Though I did not watch the entire game because of a scheduling conflict, I saw Carlos Pena once again get called out on high strikes over the belt. Belt-high pitches against David Ortiz were called balls, from what I saw.

Just as during the regular season, the Rays demonstrated they were the better team in spite of the commission of some errors characteristic of a young team. Talent and effort have made up the difference.

B .J. Upton gets my series MVP award from great hitting and fielding. Matt Garza rates honorable mention for two scintillating ALCS starts, as does Evan Longoria for showing Alex Rodriguez a thing or two about how to hit the long ball as a third baseman in the playoffs.

Rookie left handed pitcher David Price also rates special mention for tacking down the game seven win. The Rays bullpen struggled with the tough Red Sox lineup ever since "Sweet Caroline" was sung at Fenway during game five. Price stepped in and offered Red Sox hitters an unfamiliar look at excellent stuff--and he was close enough to the plate to make a believer out of the umpire. And regardless of any help from the umpire, I didn't see the bottom of the Sox batting order coming through against Price on Sunday night.

Sweetest of all, of course, are the bragging rights Rays fans get over the uber-irritating Red Sox fan. That is golden.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bucs sink Seahawks 20-10

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 20-10 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The game wasn't quite as close as the score indicated. The Bucs possessed a staggering domination of the statistics, especially time of possession. The Seahawks helped keep themselves in the game with a helmet-to-helmet tackle by Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill on Bucs wide receiver Ike Hilliard. The tackle separated him from the ball as though via KO, and a challenge by Mike Holmgren reversed the call on the field, allowing the Seahawks to gain possession deep in their own end. The tackle resulted in a concussion for Seahawks linebacker Lofa Totupu, with Hilliard's helmet acting as a go-between for Hill's helmet.

Though some of the rule changes intended to protect players seem a bit much, this is the second time that I've seen a change of possession via knockout. It seems to me that fumbling the ball while unconscious is different from being separated from it while conscious. I wouldn't mind a rule change that resulted in an immediate dead ball when the ballcarrier is rendered unconscious.

I don't think it would be very tough to design the rule in a way that avoids abuse.


A few notes:

  • Tampa Bay's rushing defense was again excellent
  • KR Dexter Jackson had another embarrassing week
  • Seattle's offensive linemen seemed to get away with quite a few holds
  • WR Antonio Bryant has cemented his position with the team if he can stay out of trouble
  • Jeff Garcia has earned his starting job back

William Ayers is a guy who lives in my neighborhood. And did I mention he's a favorite author of mine?

Zombie notes that Barack Obama offered a positive review of a book by William Ayers in 1997.

So not only does Ayers live in the neighborhood and formerly serve on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with Obama, he also authors books that Obama (coincidentally, no doubt) either reads or reviews positively without reading.

High resolution photos help confirm Zombie's account.

Rays and Sox down to game seven

Contrary to my prediction, the Rays failed to win game six.

Odd game, game six. The original home plate umpire squeezed Rays pitcher James Shields on the left side of the plate against batters on both sides of the plate. Sox batters were patient at the plate and Shields was forced to throw more over the plate with predictable results. The umpire treated Sox righty Josh Beckett about the same (there was a pitch or two where Beckett seemed to get the benefit of the doubt--no biggie there), but Rays hitters weren't so patient. They put the ball in play, and other than a homer by Upton they didn't do so hot.

But that umpire got nicked on the clavicle by a pitch that deflected off a bat and then Dioner Navarro's glove before bouncing off the ump's mask to plunk his right clavicle. Ouch! The guy kept calling the game (perhaps in a bad mood by then) for the next half inning (IIRC) then took himself out of the ballgame. The ump who replaced him called a more normal strike zone, with one exception. Late in the game he called Carlos Pena out on a pitch about three baseballs over the belt. Egad, give me a break. The Rays also gave up another unearned run when Jason Bartlett let fly a stinker of a throw to first base, allowing the a runner to reach who later scored.

Bottom line, credit to Boston. They played the better game overall, and like game five up at Fenway there were signs of the Rays playing like a team with limited playoff experience. The poise just wasn't there.

One note about the defensive troubles. The problem isn't new. The Rays, while playing mostly solid defense for the duration of the year, have had spots where they looked horrible in the field.

Here's to the team playing to its potential as it tries to win its way to the World Series tomorrow night. I was really hoping to avoid this ... the baseball game conflicts with Buccaneer football on television. Heartache.

Friday, October 17, 2008

ALCS returns to the Trop

The Boston Red Sox staged an amazing late rally to beat the Tampa Bay Devil*Rays 8-7 and continue the best of seven American League Championship series. Tampa Bay leads the series 3-2 as the series returns to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Three defensive failures by the Rays helped Boston get back into the game from a 7-0 deficit as Evan Longoria, B. J. Upton and Gabe Gross each failed to deliver in key situations late in the game.

Starting pitcher Scott Kazmir delivered however, extinguishing criticisms that giving him the start in Fenway Park provided the Red Sox an opportunity to win the series.

I place little credence in the notion that this loss somehow puts Boston in the driver's seat. That said, this next stage in the series provides the Rays another opportunity to play like veterans. Instead of repeating the breakdowns from this game, the team needs to learn from the mistakes and avoid them in key situations. The Rays are in the driver's seat. This team loses the ALCS only if it fails to play near its potential.

Obama's mouth like Clinton's?

"I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans."
--Barack Obama

I was prepared to start writing an entry about Barack Obama's tendency to express his middle-class tax cut proposal in terms of desire instead of firm intention. To be sure, Obama has tended to express himself with "I want to" on a regular basis. And that language lends itself to a reversal. Yeah, I wanted to do that but obviously that isn't prudent at this juncture.

And wouldn't that be like Bill Clinton?

But Obama's remarks today from the stump pretty much made the promise without any hedging. In fact, Obama seems to have made a substantial change in his stated plans by making the payroll tax donut encompass individuals making less than $250,000 per year.
I have a different set of priorities. I'll give a middle-class tax cut to 95% of all workers. And if you make less than $250,000 a year -- which includes 98 percent of small business owners -- you won't see your taxes increase one single dime. Not your payroll taxes, not your income taxes, not your capital gains taxes -- nothing. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.
There is room to wonder, however, whether Obama really means it. Has he decided to seal the deal on his election by telling whoppers, with this issue as the latest example?

As of today, Obama's campaign Web site has not been updated to agree with his current rhetoric:
Middle class families will see their taxes cut – and no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase.
Got that? "(N)o family." Not "no individual." It makes a difference.

A blogger at notes another recent drift from Obama's stated tax policy:

Obama said this:

What I’ve said is I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans, 95 percent. If you make more — if you make less than a quarter million dollars a year, then you will not see your income tax go up, your capital gains tax go up, your payroll tax. Not one dime.

But according to this article, capital gains would go up for any individual not involved in a small business:

He insisted that under Obama’s plan, income taxes would be lower, as well as capital gains taxes on start up businesses and small entrepreneurs (though the capital gains tax would otherwise increase).

And then there's Obama's reluctance to be pinned down on what constitutes a small business:

Obama has not defined a small business – and a lot of money rides on that unanswered question. The consequences of his plans, plus and minus, go beyond income taxes for business people whose earnings are in the vicinity of a quarter-million.

Obama’s health plan makes crucial distinctions that are not defined. Medium and large businesses would be required either to provide health insurance for workers or to pay into a fund.

“Very small businesses” would be exempt from that requirement. Not only that, but Obama would give small businesses a 50 percent tax credit to help them afford health insurance for employees.

What’s very small, small, medium and large? Obama doesn’t say.

Get ready for Slick Barry. It may be our reality in short order.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The role of fact-checking

Politico published a nice little story on the fact-checking game.

I took this as a key graph:
"The one thing I worry about is by doing it the way we do it, putting up articles one after another, we reinforce the notion that all politicians are liars and it doesn’t matter who gets elected," said Brooks Jackson, director of, which launched in 2003 and was the sole independent site keeping an eye on campaign dictum in the last presidential election.

"In 2004, was considered [the] authority," said a senior McCain aide, who was provided by the campaign to speak about fact-checking on a not-for-attribution basis. He said he would "love to see it get back" to "fewer" fact-checking arms.
Annenberg Fact Check ( is currently the gold standard in fact-checking, not that they do a perfect job by any stretch of the imagination. They just do a pretty consistent job of being fair, particuarly in contrast to outfits like Media Matters or PolitiFact.

And speaking of PolitiFact, I'm always interested in what Bill Adair has to say (from the Politico story):
"For too long we were timid about fact-checking because we felt that calling something false would open us up to a charge of bias," said Bill Adair, the St. Petersburg Times Washington bureau chief and editor of
It's not calling something "false" that leads to the charge of bias. It is the way one goes about calling something "false." If, for example, you call one statement "false" based on the underlying argument even if the statement is technically true and another statement "false" because it is technically false despite the underlying argument being true then you have a situation where subjective judgment rather than objective judgment came into play.

And yes of course that type of system is biased. Adair is "Pants-on-Fire" wrong if he believes otherwise.

In the fact-checking world, Annenberg continues to have a legitimate reputation for fair judgment. I think The Washington Post usually does a fair job, though I have not evaluated much of their work. PolitiFact has built-in problems even apart from the bias of its writers and editors. If you can judge whether a statement is true or false with a needle graphic even while claiming that truth is not black and white, then you should be able to make some kind of judgment as to which of your ratings are politically significant and which qualify as campaign ephemera.

Annenberg has the right model. Evaluate campaign claims as fairly as possible. Mistakes will be made, but an attempt at fair evaluation will always have value. PolitiFact brought in the idea of presenting the claims as a collection of data. One can look at all the claims PolitiFact has made for a given candidate and consider graphic trends. Unfortunately, their approach was wrong-headed because it puts no extra weight on serious attempts to mislead compared to slips of the tongue or inartful language.

A system achieving the goal at which PolitiFact aimed is possible, but very difficult to effect without either real bias or at least the appearance of bias.

Partial impressions of the third McCain-Obama debate

I listened to the debate sporadically last night.

Of the portions I heard, John McCain did reasonably well and Obama's defensive ripostes were in tune with his misleading ad campaigns. I look forward to reviewing the transcript.

Though I don't ordinarily listen to the Fox radio station in my area (except for the Rush Limbaugh show), I caught Lanny Davis saying even if McCain did reasonably well it won't matter because Obama creates such a good impression on television. The Fox host cracked that perhaps the debates should only be broadcast on the radio, or something to that effect.

More later.


A-ha. This debate is available at Hulu. Apparently the other debates have been added there as well.

Mid-month Iraq fatality update, October 2008

The data for the chart come from

The general downward trend of fatalities for coalition troops remains obvious. Inside the numbers, however, the story is slightly different. As of today, icasualties counts eight fatalities total. Of those eight, five were designated as due to hostilities. That is a low number, but there is some perspective to add.

At the time of last month's mid-month update, only two were designated as resulting from hostilities. By the end up the month the total had risen to eight. Projecting the October mid-month figure to predict the entire month suggests we'll end up in the neighborhood of 10. I suppose it could be said that projections suggest that coalition fatalities will increase by a quarter this month. While that's true, such handling of trends with smaller numbers tends to mean little. As I pointed out last month (and I will continue to do so), when the numbers get this small they will tend to fluctuate without necessarily establishing any informative trend.

I expect coalition fatalities to stay low even with the barriers coming down in Baghdad, mainly because nationals have taken over the bulk of security operations.

It remains to be seen whether an Obama administration re-emboldens AQI or influences (unintentionally, to be sure) Shiite radicals to step up their operations.

It also remains to be seen how well Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki welcomes Sunnis into a nationalistic unity.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rays rest in Boston up 3-1

The Tampa Bay Devil*Rays have thus far continued to avoid falling victim to playoff inexperience. Big time.

After splitting two games in St. Petersburg, the Rays traveled to Boston for three. In the first game, the Rays got to young Sox lefty Jon Lester early and kept the pressure on for a 9-1 victory behind a dynamite pitching performance from Matt Garza.

In the second game, the Rays began clubbing knuckleballer Tim Wakefield early and followed the same pattern in posting a 13-4 win. Andy Sonnanstine continued to burnish his reputation as a pitcher who wins with pitch placement and tons of heart.

Up 3-1, the pressure shifts to a Red Sox team that has underachieved at the plate thanks largely to Rays' pitching. Boston still has some impressive arms to throw at the Rays (I haven't forgotten rating their top three starters as slightly better than the Rays' top three), and they have a history of storming back when their backs hit the wall. Regardless, Tampa Bay fans have got to like their team's chances with Shields, Kazmir and Garza pitching and a suddenly lively batting order churning out an abundance of runs.

I've written about the Rays' struggles at the plate all year, expecting that the team might put together a hot hitting streak that would propel them to the AL East crown (or at least close). It never really happened during the regular season, but the Rays won the division anyway. With B. J. Upton (five playoff homers) recovering enough from his shoulder injury enough to finally start pulling the ball and Evan Longoria (five playoff homers) becoming ever more comfortable with big league pitching, perhaps the Rays are set to enjoy that hot hitting streak at the perfect time of year.

We'll know more on Thursday, when the series picks up with the final game in Boston ... and perhaps the final game in the ALCS for 2008. The Rays eliminate Boston with a win.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CAC: Who is Ken Rolling?

I've been informed that saying "Who is so-and-so" is racist code language. Oh, well.

One of my potential PolitiFact critiques has led me to look into the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. There are many pieces to the CAC puzzle, and it will probably take considerable time before a deeply informative picture emerges. Not to join PolitiFact in dismissing the work of Stanley Kurtz. Kurtz may well be on to something, but he won't get a serious hearing until a solid basis of fact undergirds the public image of CAC.

Ken Rolling was the executive director of CAC. FEC filings indicate heavy financial support for one candidate prior to Rolling's donations to Barack Obama: Janice Schakowsky.

clipped from
Schakowsky is a far-left Democrat according to GovTrack's own analysis of bill sponsorship. (Where do these labels come from?)
blog it
Wikipedia refers to Schakowsky's membership in Progressive Caucus. The "Open Left" blog had this to say about her:
Schakowsky is exactly the sort of person we need in the Senate to start building up the progressive network that Matt has been writing about. She votes right on everything and, beyond that, is notable as a fighter for introducing progressive legislation that is even included in the Responsible Plan To End the War In Iraq.
This provides at least something of a picture of Rolling's politics.