Thursday, July 31, 2008
Has the Bush administration snookered the mainstream press yet again?
Since our enemies are not in Iraq in the first place, how can the media claim they're going from Iraq to elsewhere? It does not compute.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Rays continued their weak hitting but earned the two wins based on excellent pitching. Matt Garza was the key, winning his matchup with Jays All-Star Roy Halladay on Tuesday with a complete game 5 hit shutout. Garza's gem left the Rays bullpen well-rested to assist third-game starter Edwin Jackson (7-7) to his seventh win of the season. Jackson pitched five innings in the rubber game, allowing 2 earned runs on 7 hits.
Matt Garza gets my MVP award for the series.
I doubt the bill has any chance of becoming law, but it's nice to see this point made by a representative with a sense of humor.
Check this out:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Giving Inmate Terrorists More Opportunities (GITMO) Act of 2008’.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This development takes place after reports that MRAPs have encountered rollover problems, particularly in areas with bad bridges, weak road shoulders and rough terrain. Sound like Afghanistan to you?
In an earlier post, I mused that the emphasis on the relatively light RG-31 with the most recent MRAP order indicated that the vehicle was viewed as the MRAP best suited to the theater in Afghanistan. I further supposed that it probably meant no Force Protection Cheetah orders for Afghanistan.
On the first point I think I hit the mark. On the second it appears I may have spoken too soon. The Army apparently does want to explore the possibility of getting something better suited to Afghanistan than the RG-31.
The Cheetah probably cannot be counted out. Though each company involved in the MRAP program has its engineering wizards, the models they have produced thus far place limits on the possible degree of modification. If the Cheetah performs well with respect to the critical requirements offered by the Army then I can't see how it does not have the inside track toward a modest vehicle order.
This set of suicide attacks resembles a concerted effort on its face. The enemy, perhaps AQI, used female suicide bombers in Baghdad and went for big crowds. The attacks in Kirkuk, as described above, also targeted large crowds.
Iraqi police say three suspects have been arrested over a suicide bombing during a protest rally in Kirkuk that killed at least 25 people.
The attack was part of a wave of violence that claimed the lives of at least 56 people across Iraq overnight.
I got to wondering. Do terrorist types hoping to prolong the Iraq War look at casualty counts and see the political implications? I certainly do. Why wouldn't a terrorist get it in his head that high civilian casualty numbers can aid his cause politically?
The civilian death from violence numbers at icasualties.org were prepared to continue their dropping trend--that trend might yet continue for July despite this rash of suicide bombings. Is it possible that the enemy conducted the attacks primarily to boost the numbers?
While I would admit that it is probably more likely that the bombings were intended to stir up sectarian strife as with the Golden Mosque bombing years ago, the possibility is not far-fetched. I think it likely that the enemy keeps in mind the way casualty numbers impact their aims in terms of national and international politics, even if it is not the primary motivation for bombing attacks.
Those of us (I have to count myself) who use civilian body counts to measure success in the war may well end up helping to motivate our enemies to kill more civilians.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Three out of five ain't bad, and some might give him credit for stimulating the debate over black personal responsibility.
The lone McCain mention occurred in a box reserved for blog stories: "Former smoker McCain talks cigarettes, cancer with Lance Armstrong." Old news!
Apparently we're supposed to infer something in there to the effect that iron + phosphorous + ocean = algae and bacteria.LIFE on Earth was created by the spectacular collision of continents millions of years ago that oxygenated the planet, new research has revealed.Massive seismic events created "supermountains" twice the height of the Himalayas, which were then eroded quickly and released large amounts of nutrients such as iron and phosphorus into the oceans. This led to an explosion of algae and bacteria, which helped photosynthesis and thus created oxygen.
It's dangerous allowing journalists to report science. I'm reminded somewhat of the old Monty Python sketch, "How To Do It."
The changes are not irreversible. The security gains are in the hands of unseasoned Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints spread throughout Baghdad’s neighborhoods. And local government officials have barely begun to take hold of service distribution networks, potentially leaving a window for the militia to reassert itself.The story keeps its focus on the Sadrist militias, but the same holds true for the AQI remnant.
The militia’s roots are still in the ground, Abu Amjad said, and “given any chance, they will grow again.”
The story represents another fact of the situation in Iraq that undercuts the wisdom of Obama's out-in-16-months strategy (as opposed to tactic). The strategy offers respite to our enemies in Iraq and threatens to prolong the rehabilitation process of Iraqi society.
Obama's strategy, as I've touched on before, is a political calculation that uses the facts on the ground as a rationalization--not a rationale.
First we need to get out of Iraq as fast as reasonably possible (16 months) in order to get out of the Iraqi civil war, because leaving the civil war to take its course will lead to Iraqi security forces finally doing their job. Sound far-fetched? That's because it was, and it was a position fundamentally crafted to turn sentiment against the Iraq War into pro-Obama voting regardless of the contradictory nature of the proposal. The concurrent messages were that Iraqi lives (no matter how many) are not worth American lives, and that Bush was doing it all wrong.
The facts changed. Americans played a key and essential role in curbing violence in Iraq both by AQI associated groups and by sectarian militias. The situation wasn't hopeless after all, and Bush was doing it right.
That created Obama's political quandary. His political base was not just anti-war but resistant to acknowledging the changing facts on the ground. In order to keep his base and appeal to the center, Obama would have to tweak his message.
Forget about getting our soldiers out of the civil war. Now the phased withdrawal is about getting the Iraqis to stand up and end the war. Overlook the fact that the Iraqis are already standing up and therefore do no need the added impetus. Obama's new rationale, in effect, consists of taking the final step toward victory by bringing the troops home with the war already won, albeit barely and reversibly.
Oh, and did he mention that he's not bringing the troops home after all? It recently turns out that it has always been Obama's position that the Iraq War served as a distraction from the real war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One can appreciate the imagination involved in that position by remembering the formerly robust activity of AQI. The phased redeployment will enable the new Commander in Chief to send more troops to Afghanistan.
Some on the hard left might be less than satisfied with that strategy, but who else can they vote for at this point?
Obama's moves follow the tried-and-true pattern of appealing to the party base during the primary and then appealing to the center as the general election approaches. Obama's new politics have done absolutely nothing to change that.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
So why are more troops required?Hey, great! If you stay anonymous then you can break the rules and get around the fact that you're not allowed to comment publicly. Let's assume that the report is accurate, however, for the sake of analysis.
Some U.S. commanders have complained privately for years that after President Bush diverted resources and troops to Iraq they lacked the manpower to conduct an effective counter-insurgency in Afghanistan, especially in the Taliban's southern heartland.
"An increase in troops . . . is absolutely necessary, albeit insufficient to alone stabilize Afghanistan," said a U.S. defense official who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to comment publicly. "We can lose Afghanistan for too little of securing the people."
In Iraq, the U.S. was criticized for "going it alone." In contrast, the Afghanistan situation is much worse than it might have been because of poor coordination between the troops of various nations. German and Turkish troops in particular have drawn attention because of policies that essentially prevent them from engaging in violence.
Obama favors more troops in Afghanistan because it accords with his narrative of losing focus on the real Islamist threat. I suppose I can be charitable in allowing that he favors more troops in Afghanistan because of the problem we have in squeezing useful help out of European allies and the (recent) requests of U.S. commanders. Whatever his true rationale, it has been braided together with his distraction narrative.
Obama makes himself a target for charges of inconsistency, however. If Iraq has had plenty of time to stand up while we stand down, then what of Afhanistan? The Afghans had a head start on the Iraqis and they're behind. What happened to the Obamish genius of encouraging self-sufficiency by removing the military training wheels?
McCain favors more troops in Afghanistan because of troop requests from U.S. commanders, from what I can judge. Happily for Obama, McCain's change of position on troops for Afghanistan plays into the hands of Democratic election strategists.
It seems that coordination of the NATO effort edges U.S. troop levels in terms of importance to the campaign in Afghanistan. McCain is on the right track in wanting to apply a version of the surge strategy (COIN operations) to Afghanistan, but the McClatchy story notes that increasing troop levels may make things worse if the cohesive strategy continues to lack.
So what's Obama's strategy?
Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.
As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.
The number of fibs and inaccuracies in the whole of the Obama op-ed was impressive. Beyond telling us that his supposed strategy for Afghanistan is new, Obama literally gives us no detail. Whatever the strategy, it requires more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmiitary assistance to accomplish the mission.
Perhaps if we change the strategy and combine that change with hope, then we will accomplish victory in Afghanistan.
McCain has the more concrete and reasonable proposal by far. Obama, in contrast, never believed that the surge COIN strategy would succeed in Iraq, and apparently continues to believe that its success was a mere stroke of luck (saying even with what he knows now he would have repeated his political opposition to the surge).
Apparently the Republican Attack Machine's broadside against Obama for skipping out on a visit to American troops is among the most ridiculous things in the world. The right has failed to view Obama's actions charitably, it is said. After first going after Ed Morrissy of Hot Air, CFLF places more targets on the fence:
The policies that would prohibit campaign staffers from accompanying President (what? not yet?) Obama would not have prevented Obama from visiting the bases, of course. The CFLFers fairly tie themselves in knots with a bit of help from "gcotharn." Visit and read the whole thing if you're in the mood for some laughs.
Ed wasn’t alone. A merry crew of wingnut bloggers — the very same ones who are so quick to decry the lack of “charity” in explaining John McCain’s endless bloopers — leaped to conclusions and assigned the worst possible reasons for Obama’s change of plans with no attempt to contact reliable sources who could have told them what was going on.
As Greg Sargent found out by calling the Pentagon, the truth is that Obama got last-minute notification from the Pentagon that he could only visit the military bases as a senator, with Senate staff — not as a presidential candidate with campaign staff.
Will the reality-based community wake up and smell the coffee?
Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.
That does not mean the war has ended or that U.S. troops have no role in Iraq. It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had. The new phase focuses on training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.
I'll fault the story for the somewhat cheap shot at Bush. Referring to Bush's speech declaring major combat operations at an end is appropriate to a degree since that speech was a chronological landmark. On the other hand, two different wars have been waged. Hussein's armies were defeated in short order. The war since that time has been waged against a different opponent. The first war featured conventional tactics. The second involved insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN), albeit the good guys were slow to adopt the appropriate strategy when the war changed.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's electricity production jumped more than 10 percent in roughly the first six months of 2008 compared to the same period a year ago, the director of energy operations for coalition forces said Sunday.
Iraqi authorities have taken advantage of the recent decline in violence to repair damaged power stations and begin building new infrastructure, Brig. Carew Wilks said at a news conference in Baghdad's Green Zone.
Insurgent activity had done a great deal to hamper improvements in Iraq's infrastructure. The success of the surge will finally make Iraq attractive enough for foreign investment. The Iraqi people will benefit.Nice to see the Associated Press associated with some good news.
Friday, July 25, 2008
There have been at least 66 MRAP-related accidents from November to June, according to Defense Department statistics. Nearly 40 of those involved a rollover caused by bad roads, weak bridges or driver error.Afghanistan is more likely than Iraq to have bad roads and rough terrain, from what I've read. Or perhaps I should say Afghanistan has more bad roads and opportunities for rollover accidents. It is possible that heavier use of BAE models in Afghanistan resulted in the warning focus on BAE vehicles.
"We're certainly concerned," said Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan, the Marine Corps officer who manages the MRAP program.
Paul Gallis stopped by Sublime Bloviations today to weigh in on a past dressing down of PolitiFact. Gallis was the author of a CRS report that served as a key source for the PolitiFact entry authored in turn by Robert Farley.
Here's what Gallis had to say:
Wrong. I cite Defense Secretary Gates as the source in a public press conference after a security meeting in Munich in February 2008. It is a member therefore of the Bush Administration itself that makes the analysis that the Iraq war is adversely affecting support for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Read my report on Afghanistan. The German Marshall Fund poll merely substantiates Sec. Gates' view.While I've already offered a reply to Gallis via Haloscan commentary, his personal two cents makes the whole story a mite more interesting and helps, if I may borrow a term from Gallis, substantiate my intended implication that the CRS reports are not necessarily worthy of the awe they receive from journalists. Gallis' attempt to critique my post illustrates the point.
... and you didn't note that I have also contributed to the campaigns of a number of Republican candidates. This is sloppy journalism at its worst.
(Paul Gallis, via Haloscan)
Gates and the German Marshall Fund poll
First, note that after stating that I am wrong, Gallis tries to support his claim by stating that he used Defense Secretary Robert Gates as his source. Unfortunately for Gallis' argument, I never said otherwise. I simply pointed out that PolitiFact's Robert Farley, in relaying the supposedly relevant portion of the report, stated that the conclusion came from a poll referenced in the report rather than from the report itself.
Later, the report cites a "highly respected" German Marshall Fund poll that found a sharp decline in European public opinion toward U.S. leadership due to the U.S. policy in the Iraq war.Farley gives the impression that the "highly respected" GMF poll found that the cause of the decline in public opinion was primarily the Iraq War. That is the worst type of journalism. And that is what I criticized:
The German Marshall Fund poll found a decrease in public opinion toward U.S. leadership, but it was the CRS report by Paul Gallis that attached the cause to the Iraq War ("the principal cause").Gallis appears to think if he sourced the claim in the report to Robert Gates then it somehow undermines my critique of PolitiFact. That thought is a feat of logical teleportation.
Note the text of the report authored by Gallis:
A highly respected German Marshall Fund poll has found a sharp decline in Europea public opinion towards U.S. leadership since 2002. In key European countries, the desirability of U.S. leadership in the world fell from 64% in 2002 to 36% in June 2007; the approval rating of President Bush in these same countries fell from 38% in 2002 to 17% in 2007. U.S. policy in the Iraq war is the principal cause of this decline.2 This decline is complicating the effort of allied governments to sustain support for the ISAF mission. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave credence to the political ramifications of the Iraq war when he said in February 2008, “I worry that for many Europeans the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are confused.... Many of them...have a problem with our involvement in Iraq and project that to Afghanistan.”3Gallis suggests that I read his Afghanistan report. Could there have been any doubt that I had already read it and done a better job of it than Farley?
(NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance, red highlights added to citation superscripts)
In my criticism I quoted from the report the phrase "the principal cause," which occurs in the report just prior to the second citation. That citation consists of the GMF poll, and I noted that the phrase may have misled Farley into thinking that "the principal cause" conclusion came from the poll:
Perhaps Farley was fooled by the footnote following Gallis' judgment of the root cause, supposing that Gallis' statement had to have come from the listed source. In any event, the German Marshall Fund poll does not draw the conclusion that Gallis derives. Not on pages 5-7 nor anywhere else.Perhaps Gallis somehow believed that I suggested that he drew his conclusion about "the principal cause" based on the GMF poll because of my statement that the GMF poll "does not draw the conclusion that Gallis derives." But that's just more logical hopscotch by Gallis if that is what he thought, as the context makes perfectly clear. Note that in the first sentence I muse that Farley might have thought that the judgment came from GMF poll, and I note that Farley would have been "fooled" if he came to that conclusion. In contrast, I did not make any guess as to whether Gallis drew the conclusion based on the GMF poll. I simply noted that he had derived the conclusion. If Gallis did not accept that view then we would expect him to offer some caution or contrary opinion, but he does not do that. If Gallis had doubts about Iraq being "the principal cause" then he was remiss in not mentioning that fact in his report. It is thus perfectly fair to say that Gallis derived that conclusion.
It is the third citation that leads to the Gates quotation. If the Gates citation had occurred in the company of Gallis' "principal cause" judgment then perhaps Farley would have reported more accurately.
Though I might have added a criticism of Gallis for basing the conclusion on nothing more than Gates' statement plus the GMF poll, I charitably assumed that Gallis may have had additional reason to believe it.
Gallis' political giving
Also note that Gallis criticizes me for failing to report on his giving to Republican candidates. As I noted in my original reply, only Gallis' giving to John F. Kerry graces the FEC records unless he gave under a different name to Republicans. But it doesn't really matter if Gallis gave to Republicans or not unless the pattern of giving gives us reason to believe that Gallis has no bias respecting his foreign policy philosophy.
And that was my point in tweaking PolitiFact for omitting mention of Gallis' support for Kerry. PolitiFact conveyed the impression of the CRS as an unimpeachable source and de-emphasized that the report came from an individual.
My criticism of Gallis amounted to a degree of doubt as to his objectivity. His message to me gives rise to a new set of doubts.
7-28-08: Edited to remove a redundancy
Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney.Maybe not all the good images he wanted, however (hat tip to Hot Air):
But maybe adding two and two will give us the answer.
One military official who was working on the Obama visit said because political candidates are prohibited from using military installations as campaign backdrops, Obama's representatives were told, "he could only bring two or three of his Senate staff member, no campaign officials or workers." In addition,The official said "We didn't know why" the request to visit the wounded troops was withdrawn.
"Obama could not bring any media. Only military photographers would be permitted to record Obama's visit."
I did not know how far wrong they were, however, until I clicked on the embedded "About James Watt" hot link. See if you can spot the problem!
The above story is all over the news, and many of the accounts refer to MRAPs as being "hastily designed" or words to that effect. It isn't rocket science that a high center of gravity tends to increase the chances of rollover. Evidently the BAE designs proved more susceptible than expected, which is likely to have played a part in General Dynamics winning the lion's share of orders when the latest contracts were announced last Friday.
BAE manufactures elsewhere the Caiman model and has a part in the manufacturing of the RG-31, which has a lead producer of General Dynamics.
Both of those models have been involved in major rollover incidents, helping to prompt the warning.
Golden said the company is in conversations with the military about what can be done to minimize the risk of MRAP rollover, but could not comment further.
Perhaps another lesson to apply to the JLTV competition?
What does it mean?
Dean Barnett, heard this week subbing for Hugh Hewitt on the Hugh Hewitt radio program, believes that the phrase will turn out as the most quoted aspect of Barack Obama's speech in Germany--by the conservative opposition, that is.
John Hinderaker at Power Line also picked up on the phrase.
There were, of course, problematic parts, like introducing himself as a "citizen of the world." These carefully-chosen words, loaded in the context of the current campaign, were obviously intended to advance the image that Obama wants to present to American voters. It's far from clear, however, that "citizen of the world" is at the top of the list of qualities voters are looking for this year.I have my own ideas about that choice of words, but before I begin to blather in earnest, here is Obama's statement in context:
In the context of the speech, the phrase is not all that shocking. Obama goes on to make a case for cooperation between nations in combatting terrorism--the sort of thing that might just as easily come from John McCain.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning - his dream - required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.
The phrase has at least two drawbacks.
First, given the context of Obama's speech (European venue) and to a degree the label the right sticks on the senator (elitist), the phrase tightens the undesirable similarity to John F. Kerry.
Second, I read the phrase as a continued attempt at blank slate politicking. To the political left, "citizen of the world" communicates a willingness to see the United States as the bad guy. As such, it is the type of term likely to resonate with the BAF crowd even while they wrestle with Obama's apparently irrational continued concern over terrorism--the latter since the BAF contingent tends to blame the U.S. for terrorism. Chickens coming home to roost ... you get the picture.
In the end, however, I don't think the speech is likely to excite Europe. Nor does the content seem likely to appeal particularly to the American left.
I've run a few searches looking for European reactions. So far not much.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Kazmir stands at 8-5; Shields' record is now 9-6.
Scarborough says it all.
Obama's assertion that the surge was some type of lucky event where the planets all aligned was completely ridiculous. The Sunni awakening had been going for about a year prior to the surge and relied even then on American support because the Sunnis did not have the power to confront the insurgents.
Hat tip to Olbermann Watch for the video embed.
I'm reading (but not clicking!) the ads that Google is putting on my site occasionally.
While it would be considerable stretch to call me a fan of Obama, I find the following ad copy a bit troubling. I suppose I should say no more.
Hopefully more of these will appear--and hopefully I'll get around to unearthing the Miles tome that contains the paraphrase that got stuck on Watt's rap sheet.
Preliminary props to "ravuya."
"Black Max" has essentially the same account in the midst of a considerably more professional presentation:
February: Reagan's newly posted Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, a former industry lobbyist, testifies before Congress: "That is the delicate balance the Secretary of the Interior must have: to be steward for the natural resources for this generation as well as future generations. I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns; whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations." Author Austin Miles interprets Watt's statement to read, "We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand."I'll have to see if the public library co-op has a copy of Miles' book available.
While Miles' book is available through interlibrary loan, the process has been complicated by a computer upgrade taking place in the local library system. I found a copy of the book online for just a few bucks (including shipping), so I expect to put this issue definitively to rest within a period of days.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Back when Bill Clinton was first running for national office, I immediately pegged him as a liar. It wasn't any kind of psychic prediction on my part, nor did I have to catch him in any specific lie to know he was a liar. I knew it because of the way he talked. He was careful. Too careful. He was a used car salesman, skillfully playing up the lemon's strong points while deftly parrying any questions from the customer that might result in any embarrassing facts coming to light. He was the type of liar willing and able to deceive you with the truth.
Barack Obama gave me a MST3K moment with his statements regarding differences with Gen. Petraeus on Iraq.
There it is. The evasion, the rephrasing, and even the half smile so characteristic of Clintonian obfuscation.
Certainly Obama is not as smooth as Bill Clinton. Obama even seems slightly embarrassed at being in the position of spinning the issue whereas Clinton was expert at appearing earnest when his words least deserved it. If the viewer doesn't pick up on the deceit then the half smile just communicates that he's a friendly guy.
Just like used-car salesmen are friendly.
My favorite part, by the way, is how he distinguishes between the military leaders' focus on Iraq while the great Obama thinks in terms of an overall security strategy. The Senate just confirmed Petraeus as the overall commander for the U.S. military. So any talk of Obama basing his Iraq pullout ideas on the desire to succeed in Afghanistan and Pakistan still conflicts with Petraeus since Petraeus is ultimately in charge of the whole military ball of wax. Obama needs to explain how the loss of Iraq is an acceptable risk in an overall national security policy.
For background on Obama's deceit on the Iraq War, go here.
“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.
“But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.
“He is going to talk about the issues as an individual … not as a candidate, but as an individual, as a senator,” the adviser added.
And he will be talking about those issues in a non-political way, I suppose. Hilarious. The observation that Obama's inexperience has come to manifest itself as a type of nouveau riche attitude has already been made. It's hard to disagree, albeit this time the attitude is manifested by the staff.
Hat tip to Power Line blog.
Six bidders submitted proposals in mid-April for the source selection evaluation board to consider. At the time, a decision was expected by late June on which three bids would advance.Maybe they need more time to consider the proposals, maybe they want to see how the strategic landscape changes projected into the future. I guess now there's more time for details about the various proposals to leak out between now and the final decision.
But the JLTV program manager office has announced the selection process is delayed. Brown and Lamar told Crain's their companies expect a decision in the fall, and Defense News has reported October. But Ashley John-Browning, communications specialist for Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. and a spokeswoman for the JLTV office, said no new date is set.
(Crain's Detroit Business)
BAGHDAD, July 21 (VOI) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on Monday during his meeting with visiting U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that developments in Iraq will determine the presence of foreign troops in the country.Whatever the truth about the Der Spiegel quotation issue, al-Maliki's position only makes sense. It would be completely stupid to stick to a withdrawal schedule if things were not going well--unless one were somehow convinced that elected Iraqi politicians plan to take little action regarding security unless forced to do so by the withdrawal of American combat troops.
I do think, however, that the Barack Obama visit is likely to help him in terms of public perception in the U.S., but mainly because the media will make that outcome their job. The mainstream media will paper over the fact that Obama's troop withdrawal timetable was based on an entirely different basis when he proposed it than currently exists.
Obama Concedes That Surge Didn't Go As He Expected
Monday, July 21, 2008
First, the Secretary of State is instructed to certify the vote totals in less than the two weeks it took Oregon to count its measly number of votes.
Second, there was no provision in the law for a statewide manual recount. The methods for challenging the vote totals limited appeals to the individual counties, and put discretion in the hands of election officials. That is, the county election commissions under then Secretary of State Katherine Harris. That's why Gore was kind of forced to seek an obviously unfair avenue of challenging the results.
Third, because of the type of ballots Florida used at the time, you would never have been sure who really won after a manual recount. At least machine counts are non-partisan in principle.
Mapes' tiny column had one comment when I visited. "DanHortsch" offered that the HBO film "Recount" doesn't explain things either. Big surprise, there. I'll have to get around to a review of that one.
The Rays used their first-half formula to good effect against Toronto: solid pitching, good defense and timely hitting. James Shields and Matt Garza dominated the first two games of the series and share my series MVP award with third baseman Evan Longoria. Longoria whacked two more home runs in the series, including an impressive grand slam off of Toronto ace Roy Halladay in the second game of the series. Longoria's batting average now trails only Dioner Navarro's and Akinori Iwamura's for the team lead.
The Rays can stay in the playoff race with pitching and defense, but the batting will determine how far this team goes this season. The meat of the order is batting below career average, with Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and B. J. Upton all struggling somewhat at the plate. Each player has been reasonably productive, but the team could really string some wins together and do some playoff damage if the bats come around.
I keep saying that, but the season gets older and older and it doesn't seem to be happening. Perhaps this just isn't the year, but there's still time for a team hot streak.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I'll also probably add a tip jar feature. Who would pay for what I'd do for free? I guess we'll see. My thinking on this point is that some of what I write contains valuable research and good information. And since there are folks getting paid to write some the baloney that I end up correcting it seems only fair somehow to create an avenue for potentially mitigating that gross injustice.
My biggest problem with these moves is that it doesn't seem to fully jibe with my hoped-for presentation. I try to keep a sense of humor about my writing even though I'm perfectly serious about handling the truth with the most integrity I can generate. Ads generally aren't funny. And a tip jar can be downright ugly. I know I snicker inside when I see tip jar icons at some of the Fever Swamp blogs I explore from time to time. I have little doubt I'll stimulate a sneer or two with a "gimme" icon. Meh. Humor me.
I've contacted the pastor of Wedgewood Baptist asking them to stop using this quotation. It's under a "frightening quotations" heading.
Pastor Ayers of Wedgewood Baptist contacted me and says he's looking into the veracity of the quotation.
Your James Watt quotation ("We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand") almost certainly did not come from Watt. It was more likely a paraphrase intended to interpret Watt's words, later interpolated into a longer (and inaccurate) quotation. Research it and you'll see.
Sen. John McCain isn’t used to criticism about his support for veterans. After all, he spent five years in a Vietnamese prison camp and has staked his presidential campaign on a pledge to carry on the Iraq war.Is this objective reporting? Looks like editorial judgment to me, and we're not even to the True/Mostly True/Partly True/Mostly False/False/Pants-On-Fire stage yet. I don't think that writer/researcher Shawn Zeller objectively knows whether or not Sen. McCain is "used to criticism" about his support for veterans. An objective reporter might attempt to count the number of times McCain has received such criticism, but there is reason to doubt that Zeller performed that type of research, for we might expect objective evidence of it in his reporting.
Zeller should perhaps also answer for the "carry on the Iraq war" statement, for that phrasing feeds into partisan portrayals of McCain's stated policy on Iraq, which is to succeed in Iraq. But my PolitiFact entries might quickly turn infinite if I allowed myself to routinely digress on such points. So back to Zeller's op-ed, eh, I mean unbiased objective reporting (pardon the redundancy):
Three paragraphs, and at least two editorial judgments already. Now McCain is "testy." That is not the sort of description that is easily passed off as an objective observation. Fortunately, Zeller is fair and balanced in the subsequent paragraph as he explains McCain's rationale for voting as he did.
But of late, McCain has taken heat from antiwar veterans groups such as VoteVets.org for hedging his support for legislation to expand federal funding to help veterans go to college and then for failing to show up for the Senate vote on a supplemental war spending bill that secured passage of the expanded GI Bill benefits last month.
So when a man confronted McCain during a July 7, 2008, town hall meeting — accusing the Arizona senator of speaking out against the GI bill — McCain got testy.
After that, Zeller is small enough to take a Space Mountain ride on another magnified molehill.
And here we'll have to interrupt Zeller for a while, because the reader is not going to understand what happened without more background. Zeller does not provide adequate background in his story, but at least PolitiFact is nice enough to provide the means to contradict the work of their fact-checkers. The Zeller story has a YouTube embed featuring the town hall exchange in question. So does my version:
All that was true. But then McCain took it too far.
“The reason why I have a perfect voting record from organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and all the other veterans service organizations is because of my support of them,” he said.
The transcript of that exchange, along with the rest of the event, is available through Congressional Quarterly. As is plain from the video, a question was asked and McCain was in the process of answering the question. While McCain was answering, the questioner interjected additional questions or comments. In my judgment (since one does not objectively call somebody else "testy" without good physical evidence), McCain did become irritated with the interruption but handled it fairly regardless. Here is the relevant portion of the transcript:
McCain's statement about having a "perfect voting record" draws the attention of PolitiFact. And that's fair, to a point, because the statement is not true any more than is Obama's statement that he had already visited 57 of the United States. And I don't write that to belittle the point. It's more likely that somebody would be misled on a point of fact by McCain's statement than by Obama's statement, since most of us are pretty well aware of the number of contiguous United States.
My friend, I -- all I can say is I don't know what you're pointing to, but I've received every award from every major veterans organization in America. I've received every organization in America their awards, sir.
MCCAIN: I don't -- I don't know what you're referring to, nor do...
MCCAIN: ... sir, I'm responding to your question. And then I will let you speak again, if you'd like. But you want to -- the way we try to conduct these is let people finish and then I will go back to you. I'll go right back.
So I don't know what bill you're referring to. And I don't know what you're referring to. And I'll be glad to have you refer to it. But the reason why I have a perfect voting record from organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and all the other veterans service organizations is because of my support of them.
But you can go ahead and respond if you want to. Go ahead. Give him the microphone back.
QUESTION: I'll respond by saying this, that you do not have a perfect voting record by the DAV and the VFW. That's where these votes are recorded.
And the votes were proposals -- they were proposals by your colleagues in the Senate to increase health care funding of the V.A. in 2003, '04, '05, and '06 for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And you voted against those proposals.
I can give the specific Senate votes, the numbers of those Senate votes right now.
MCCAIN: Right. I thank you, and I'll be glad to examine what your version of my record is. But, again, I've been endorsed in every election by all of the veterans organizations that do that. I've been supported by them, and I've received their highest awards from all of those organizations.
So I guess they don't know something you know. So I thank you very much. And I will continue to be proud of my support for the veterans of this country and proud of their support.
The problem? It isn't likely, given the context, that McCain was trying to convey a false impression. PolitiFact fact-checkers sometimes display a sensitivity to the context and intent of a statement, but sometimes they do not. One entry will tease out the "underlying argument" while the next entry displays an exclusive focus on the superficial. It seems plain enough in this case that McCain's "underlying argument" consisted of his solid record on veterans' issues and support from veterans' organizations. It is possible that McCain meant to deceive listeners by claiming that all veterans' organizations rated him with a perfect voting record. More likely he misspoke, just as Obama did in referring to 57 contiguous United States. The controversial statement occurred in an off-the-cuff and unscripted exchange, and beyond that it was sandwiched between two other statements that more accurately portrayed the level of support McCain enjoys from veterans' organizations.
In the end, I agree with PolitiFact's judgment that the statement was false. But I judge PolitiFact "Mostly False" because their account does quite a bit of misleading.
- It indulges in editorial judgments in advance of reporting the facts
- It feeds gratuitously into the "angry McCain" meme
- It ignores the underlying argument
- It ignores the context
The story gives a picture of military service in Anbar Province and delves into the opinions of our soldiers regarding the mission.
ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq — The moon hasn't yet risen, and the road is dark.
On the first midnight run of a two-night journey from Camp Ramadi to a small outpost a few miles from the Syrian border, a long convoy of armored semitrailers snakes past darkened farms, dusty hamlets and Iraqi police checkpoints.
The caravan is led by an MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, the military's 14-ton answer to roadside bombs, driven by 20-year-old Chantelle Schweiger, a Seabee with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, dispatched to Iraq from Naval Base Ventura County.
She starts out with a hellfire & brimstone bang:
Once again the taxpayer comes to the rescue of investors.She's fueled again by her outrage that the supposedly sensible socialism of redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor is being turned on its head by the federal bailout of lenders. It's as though she doesn't realize that the investors are, generally speaking, the taxpayers.
This isn't Blumner's point, however. This is just one of those nuggets of disinformation we are regularly fed by newspapers as the background for the latest news and opinion.
Her real point concerns the plight of low wage earners, in particular the way nobody looks out for them.
A scathing review of the way workers' complaints have been mishandled and ignored by the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department has just been issued by the Government Accountability Office — Congress' investigative arm. The two reports (first and second) released Tuesday highlight the way the division has failed to follow through on valid complaints, particularly for low-wage workers, leaving some cheated out of thousands of dollars in earned wages.Blumner, who regards the powerful federal government as pretty much the best thing about the United States (see here and here), puts herself in an odd position with this column. The bad guy in this tale of woe is the federal government. And credit to Blumner for not trying to pin the fault on George W. Bush this time, which must have been a terrific temptation for her. The GAO reports make clear that the trend easily encompasses the previous administration.
And what is that trend? Quite simply, a decreasingly vigorous attempt at enforcing labor laws, though in the first report cited, at least, a big part of the problem with the government agency in question (the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor) is its shifting criteria for its own success.
The extent to which WHD’s activities have improved FLSA compliance is unknown because WHD frequently changes both how it measures and how it reports on its performance. When agencies provide trend data in their performance reports, decision makers can compare current and past progress in meeting long-term goals. While WHD’s long-term goals and strategies generally remained the same from 1997 to 2007, WHD often changed how it measured its progress, keeping about 90 percent of its measures for 2 years or less.So the government is doing a horrible job. Our supposed savior doesn't give a flip.
Predictably, Blumñata uses her bully pulpit to condemn the government's sin of not having enough government employees to stem the tide of private sector evil. If we would just hire enough deacons (at a comfortable living wage, no doubt) to ensure that employers were properly obeying laws that tend to hurt overall employment and discourage workers who want to work overtime from having that opportunity then the entire congregation would be happy.
Perhaps they'll have to be encouraged to give more when the plate is passed. But Blumner would see that as a good thing.
What she isn't likely to notice is that fact that what she called the "best" thing about our country back in March has failed us yet again. And I've got news for her. It's a pattern. Blumner was right when she wrote that the market by its nature is uncaring. When she begins to realize that the same is true of government then she'll begin to have a clue as to what she's talking about.
Good people make the difference in either case, but the free market has no built in hindrance from the demons of bureaucracy.