Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is there nobody like Hitler?

I've been conducting a somewhat extended conversation with Sith blogroll member Barnum's Baileywick of Wick o' the Bailey.
That conversation stemmed from a post of mine entitled "Changing the Perspective," where I tried to offer a rationale for involvement in Iraq separated from the disdain many feel for the initial rationale (however they perceive it) given for the Iraq war.

I don't wish to recap that converation--it's easy enough for those who are interested to follow the above URL to the commentary thread--but rather focus on (what I find to be) the astonishing turn that the conversation has taken.
In the conversation thread, I likened the current situation with Iran to the situation with Germany prior to Hitler's outright military aggression, albeit with considerable subtlety, suggesting that BB's foreign policy suggestion would produce a "peace in our time" comparable to that famously negotiated by Neville Chamberlain.
BB went from doubting the value of an analogy to Hitler to a later proclamation of Hitler's apparently incomparable nature ("There simply is no legitimate comparison to Hitler. He, like most world-historical individuals, is a unique moment in the history of Germany, Europe, and the world.") even after I heartily lampooned that position ("If I photoshopped a pic of Ahmadinejad so that he had boots and a moustache to match Hitler's, would you buy the comparison?").

Denying the similarities based on the dissimilarities is a classic fallacious response to the argument by analogy.

There are basic similarities in the diplomatic relationships in each instance. There is a goal on the part of a belligerent nation (land, uranium enrichment cycle sufficient for nuclear weapons), the stance of the belligerent nation (unwilling to make significant concessions and actions out-of-accord with prior agreements in each case), and the stated aims of the titular heads-of-state (ascendancy of the Aryan, ascendancy of Islam, both to the detriment of the Jew). Additionally there is the potential response to those nations (give up the Sudetenland, allow the uranium enrichment cycle technology to be obtained by Iran--both appeasing strategies).

Trying to squirm away from those similarities based on the supposed one-of-a-kind nature of Hitler is rhetorical nonsense.

I almost forgot. BB had more bad arguments.
He does, however, have more support domestically than you admit. The Iranians are not entirely opposed to his leadership, and it does seem that he's a good chance of winning re-election in 2009. His anti-American and anti-Israeli (and anti-Semitic), pro-nuclear comments only endear him more to a large portion of his constituency in Iran. (I've got something on this somewhere, but I've misplaced the link. More on that when I find it.)
I'd have to admit to majority support in order for my failure to admit support to have bearing on my denial that Ahmadinejah has popular (that is, majority) support. BB's response there is a red herring. It doesn't touch my argument at all, instead changing the subject to the apparently irrelevant fact that Ahmadinejad has some support in Iran.

Ahmadinejad's hatred of Israel and the Jews, and his desire to see them destroyed, is by no means morally acceptable foreign policy talk -- but the man is hardly alone among world leaders in believing the State of Israel a fundamentally unjustified entity, the existence of which was imposed by Europe and North America on the Middle East.
It is a shame that those leaders reject the UN establishment of Israel via its partition plan of 1947. Perhaps that accounts for their rejection of other UN resolutions as well.
If Barnum's Baileywick does not wish to advance an argument to the effect that Israel is "a fundamentally unjustified entity" then this topic is a digression as well. Hitler's views, after all, were shared by many in Austria. We don't settle the issue pointing out that some agree with a particular view.
BB would also appear to undermine his faith in the UN if he pursues a line of argumentation that rejects the legitimacy of Israel.
That he gives expression to his convictions regarding Israel is not sufficient grounds for pre-emptive military action, nor for the comparison to Hitler. Hitler actually did try to annihilate the Jews in Europe; Ahmadinejad has not, and likely never will have the power to do so. Even if Iran goes nuclear (which it is almost inevitable that Iran will do).
1) I argued for pre-emptive military action based on Ahmadinejad expressing his convictions about Israel? I could have sworn my argument had something to do with Iran breaking the non-proliferation treaty by pursuing nuclear research forbidden through the UN.
If I'm right, then BB can offer a serious response with his memory properly refreshed.

2) Hitler tried to annihilate the Jews relatively late in his nationalistic program. He was content to restrict their rights initially while expanding Germany's militarily expansion (Jews are part of a lower class in Iran, the dhimmi).
Have you been keeping track of Iran's military, BB? Could their nuclear research have military applications?

3) Ahmadinejad will not have the power to eliminate the Jews in Europe? Why not, and what of the Jews in Israel?
How does one reconcile Iran's probable acquisition of nuclear weapons with their inability to destroy Israel? It seems quite counterintuitive on the face of it--certainly some explanation ought to accompany the claim.

Looks like it's Armitage for Fitzmas

Democrats hoping for a Turdblossom in prison orange seem destined for disappointment.

The Justice Department indictment of Karl Rove--much anticipated on the Left--didn't happen, and Richard Armitage of the Colin Powell-era State Department is increasingly reported as the one who (inadvertently) leaked Valerie Plame's CIA identity to the press.

The odd thing, as many have pointed out, is that Armitage hasn't been mentioned as the culprit much before now in lieu of suspicions involving Rove.

This will be one of those gifts where the box gets more attention than the contents, I think.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Important NFL preseason game: No. 3

Relatively speaking, preseason football isn't important. Nobody gets a title, and the wins (or losses) don't really count for anything.

The third preseason game is the most important one in the modern NFL, however. Most teams use the third game to give first-teamers their most extensive preseason work in preparation for the opening of the regular season. Certainly that's the strategy that Jon Gruden has used as the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The third game was a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 29-18, and while the score meant very little, the flow of the game gave a glimpse into the beginning of the regular season.

The starting Buccaneers defense looked good, outside of the Jaguars' two initial running plays, both of which gained 5 or more yards. The third play was a questionable fumble call which gave the ball to the Buc offense, which subsequently scored a touchdown to put the Bucs up 6-0. The starting defensive line has looked especially good at rushing the passer, which was a welcome sign given the departure of former defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who departed to take over as head coach for the Detroit Lions.

Offensively, the Bucs continued to display the slow-start pattern that has persisted throughout Gruden's tenure with the team. The team has increased the number of passing plays since the first preseason game, which I take to mean that the coaches are essentially happy with the run blocking but want to see how the various offensive line groupings look in pass protection. The pass protection was spotty. Starting quarterback Chris Simms was sacked about three times, and had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Tim Rattay, listed as the second-string quarterback, did not play.
I'm not sure what significance to read into that. I think it means one of two things. Either the Bucs have decided to keep Rattay as the experienced backup during the course of the year instead of recuperating Jay Fiedler, or the the other way around. Either way, the coaches apparently feel that they know what Rattay will bring to the table. They were more interested in seeing how rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has progressed.

I suppose it is possible that they're putting off Rattay's make-or-break-it chance until the final preseason game, since Chris Sims will probably play very little in the preseason finale.

Speaking of Gradkowski, he looked like a rookie when he took over for Simms in the second half. He led the Bucs into Jaguar territory only to make an ill-advised throw into the middle of the field, which was intercepted by the Jaguars.
Later, Gradkowski threw another interception on a ball thrown up between the receiver and the defender. The Jaguar defensive player controlled the ball for an interception.

Gradkowski looked better late in the game, leading the Bucs on a late touchdown drive.

Jacksonville scored all its points during the second half, gaining momentum by keeping their starters working against Buccaneer second- and third-teamers. Regardless, the Bucs should be concerned over the ease with which the Jaguars moved the ball on the defensive reserves. The dropoff from the first team to the second team was far too pronounced.

The third preseason game is suppose to provide answers; this one gave us too many questions. On the whole, it was a disappointing effort this week.
Punt returner/wide receiver Mark Jones is on the bubble. The Bucs used Jones as the first-team punt returner, but gave fellow wideout Paris Warren a good look at punt returner, also. Warren has reportedly looked better at wide receiver (Jones has been invisible on offense), but was not surehanded on two of the punts he fielded. On the other hand, Warren looked pretty good running with the ball after he found the handle.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mark Steyn on the radio

Much to my surprise and delight, Mark Steyn filled in for Rush Limbaugh on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006.

Though I heard only parts of the program, Mark did very well.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Michael Hussey supplants Feith as stupidest guy on the face of the earth

My active lurking at "Pushing Rope" has finally spawned something worth reporting.

Michael Hussey, who provides most of the content at "Pushing Rope" that might aspire to seriousness, created an entry titled "Revisionist History" after receiving two comments to an earlier entry titled "Quote(s) of the Day."

In the latter entry, Hussey singled out a recent comment by President Bush.
"Nobody’s ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq."

George W. Bush.

In the same press briefing, Bush finally admits Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

QUESTION: What did Iraq have to do with it?

BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?

QUESTION: The attack on the World Trade Center.

BUSH: Nothing. Except it’s part of — and nobody has suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack.

Apparently, Bush doesn't read Instapund[i]t, Little Green Footballs or listen to his own Vice-President.

The moral is that the White House never believed their own deception.
(Quote(s) of the Day)

That post received two replies, one by "Sunshine Editor" referred to a post at "The State of Sunshine" which provided a summary of the rationale for invading Iraq--a fair summary, so far as I can tell.
The second reply was posted by me, asking Michael to support his assertions respecting Instapundit and Little Green Footballs, based on my failure to find material matching what Hussey claimed.

So how does Hussey respond? By changing the subject, of course.
Hussey proceeds to ignore what we wrote in favor of this:
For conservatives who are now playing revisionist history in the comments of my Quote(s) of the Day post.
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," Bush said after a Cabinet meeting. As evidence, he cited Iraqi intelligence officers' meeting with bin Laden in Sudan. "There's numerous contacts between the two," Bush said.
I wouldn't be surprised if this meeting took place. The problem is no one can confirm it. The Sudan meeting story came from intelligence from the Office of Special Plans. Former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith ran that group in the Pentagon. In a rare move, the Department of Defense shot down Feith's statements to Senate. Tommy Franks called him, "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth." Who knows if the meeting took place. Bush st[o]od by all this bogus intelliigence.

The Bush administration has said the terrorist network and Iraq were linked.

In response, a senior administration official traveling with President Bush in Tampa, Florida, said, "We stand by what Powell and Tenet have said," referring to previous statements by Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet that described such links.
The White House played on the public's fear of 9-11 to invade all for the benefit of pro-Israel neoconservatives. The Iraq war hasn't made America or Israel safer.

The White House also presented bogus intellignce that Iraq was training al-Qaeda to use WMDs. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was tagged as a known liar by the intelligence community. The White House passed his BS as fact. al-Libi was saying these things because he was tortured.

Al-Libi's capture, some sources say, was an early turning point in the government's internal debates over interrogation methods. FBI officials brought their plea to retain control over al-Libi's interrogation up to FBI Director Robert Mueller. The CIA station chief in Afghanistan, meanwhile, appealed to the agency's hawkish counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black. He in turn called CIA Director George Tenet, who went to the White House. Al-Libi was handed over to the CIA. "They duct-taped his mouth, cinched him up and sent him to Cairo" for more-fearsome Egyptian interrogations, says the ex-FBI official. "At the airport the CIA case officer goes up to him and says, 'You're going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to f--- her.' So we lost that fight." (A CIA official said he had no comment.)
Apple sauce.
("Revisionist History")
Now, Hussey takes the title from Feith merely for posting an ostensible reply that fails to address any of the issues on which he was challenged. When we delve into the content of what he wrote, however, it just makes Hussey look even more inept.

Not only does he fail to address the issues, he also makes the title pass for a description of his reply rather than as the intended rebuke of those who dared respond to his earlier post.

Watch for the updates.

Interview with General Abizaid

General John Abizaid, who succeeded General Tommy Franks at Central Command, gave an interview the other day on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, discussing the situation in Iraq. I'm just including the first part, but I recommend reading the entire exchange.
HH: I welcome now General John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, calling this morning from, I believe, Qatar. General, welcome. It's good to have you.

JA: Well, thank you, Hugh. I'm happy to be here.

HH: Can you begin, General, by giving us an overview of the situation in Iraq as of mid-August, 2006?

JA: The situation in Iraq right now, as you've seen, of course, there's an awful lot of sectarian violence, particularly in the Baghdad area. We've found it necessary to move additional troops down into the Baghdad area by extending some forces that we were going to redeploy to help shore up some of the work that the Iraqi Security Forces are doing. We're putting additional Iraqi Security Forces in the field there as well. It's very clear to all of us that have been serving in this region that Baghdad's the key to Iraq, and that we've got to get the levels of sectarian violence down in order for Iraq to stabilize. We're confident it can be done. We've seen some changes already that are somewhat positive. It's still too early to say, but the combination of Iraqi Security Forces and our forces, along with some measures being taken by the new government, we're confident can, over time, move Baghdad in the right direction.
(read the rest at Hugh Hewitt's blogsite)

Conflict of interest for Judge Taylor?

Judicial Watch reports that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who recently ruled Bush's NSA surveillance program unconstitutional, failed to disclose a connection to the plaintiffs in the case.
According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Diggs Taylor served as Secretary and Trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). She was reelected to this position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a “recent grant” of $45,000 over two years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case. Judge Diggs Taylor sided with the ACLU of Michigan in her recent decision.

According to the CFSEM website, “The Foundation’s trustees make all funding decisions at meetings held on a quarterly basis.”

“This potential conflict of interest merits serious investigation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “If Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it would certainly call into question her judgment.
(Judicial Watch statement)
Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.
I'll gratuitously point out for a second time that Judge Diggs Taylor is a Carter appointee.

Evidence? We don't need no stinkin' evidence!

Visitors to the "Terrorism News" propaganda mill are encouraged to post their comments in accord with the site's posting policy.
That policy reads, in part:
(5) Please be willing to supply facts and credible evidence to back up your view if asked and you have not already clearly defined that what you say is purely your opinion.
("Comment rules")

That's a pretty good rule, if one is going to have rules.
Recently, _H_ at "Terrorism News" posted a comment relating to President Bush's press conference, focusing on the point where the president's comments were interrupted by an additional question from reporters. Here's how _H_ relates it:
President Bush was in the midst of explaining how the attacks of 9/11 inspired his “freedom agenda” and the attacks on Iraq until a reporter, Ken Herman of Cox News, interrupted to ask what Iraq had to do with 9/11. “Nothing,” Bush defiantly answered. Watch it Here.

And here is the relevant context of the press conference (the portion referencing Iraq):
Q Mr. President, polls continue to show sagging support for the war in Iraq. I'm curious as to how you see this developing. Is it your belief that long-term results will vindicate your strategy and people will change their mind about it, or is this the kind of thing you're doing because you think it's right and you don't care if you ever gain public support for it? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Look, Presidents care about whether people support their policies. I don't mean to say, I don't care. Of course, I care. But I understand why people are discouraged about Iraq, I can understand that. We live in a world in which people hope things happen quickly, and this is a situation where things don't happen quickly, because there's a very tough group of people using tactics, mainly the killing of innocent people, to achieve their objective. And they're skillful about how they do this, and they also know the impact of what it means on the consciousness of those of us who live in the free world. They know that.

And so, yes, I care, I really do. I wish -- and so, therefore, I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to explain as best I can why it's important for us to succeed in Iraq.

Q Can I follow --

THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish. On the other hand, Ken, I don't think you've ever heard me say -- and you've now been covering me for quite a while, 12 years -- I don't think I've -- 12 years? Yes. I don't think you've ever heard me say, gosh, I'd better change positions because the polls say this or that. I've been here long enough to understand you cannot make good decisions if you're trying to chase a poll. And so the second part of your question is, look, I'm going to do what I think is right, and if people don't like me for it, that's just the way it is.

Q Quick follow-up. A lot of the consequences you mentioned for pulling out seem like maybe they never would have been there if we hadn't gone in. How do you square all of that?

THE PRESIDENT: I square it because, imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who would -- who had relations with Zarqawi. Imagine what the world would be like with him in power. The idea is to try to help change the Middle East.

Now, look, part of the reason we went into Iraq was -- the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction. But I also talked about the human suffering in Iraq, and I also talked the need to advance a freedom agenda. And so my question -- my answer to your question is, is that, imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.

You know, I've heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of "we're going to stir up the hornet's nest" theory. It just doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case.

And one way to defeat that -- defeat resentment is with hope. And the best way to do hope is through a form of government. Now, I said going into Iraq that we've got to take these threats seriously before they fully materialize. I saw a threat. I fully believe it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein, and I fully believe the world is better off without him. Now, the question is how do we succeed in Iraq? And you don't succeed by leaving before the mission is complete, like some in this political process are suggesting.


Calling the president's response defiant as _H_ does is an interesting take. The reporter is playing off the legend (for which I have given Noam Chomsky substantial blame) that the Bush administration led Americans to believe Iraq was responsible for the 9-11 attacks. That charge is of special interest to me, accounting for the poll that I created for my blog. As of now, five have responded to that poll, with all five expressing very strong agreement with the proposition that "President Bush caused a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who believe that Iraq was involved in the 9-11 attacks." There simply isn't any reasonable support for that belief (other than taking Chomsky's misstatements as reliable information); the most common "evidence" in support consists of showing how administration officials mentioned "Iraq" and "9-11" in proximity to one another (regardless of the specific context). The simple truth is that the attacks on 9-11 illustrated what a belligerent nation such as Iraq--regardless of whether or not Iraq was responsible for the 9-11 attacks--could accomplish through the use of terrorist proxies. Speaking for myself, I was always clear on that point as I supported moving to depose Hussein at the risk of touching off civil war in Iraq.

I covered that issue briefly in the comment I posted at TN, but primarily I attempted to call out _H_ on this claim: "Now I know that someone out in Internet land will state that nobody in the Bush administration actually said that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. But they never ruled it out when asked."
_H_ implicitly concedes that the administration never actually said that Iraq had something to do with the 9-11 attacks, even while claiming that "they connected Saddam and Iraq to Al-Qaeda in every possible way they could."
That leads me to wonder why, given that _H_ and company think that Bush is so deceitful, it apparently wasn't possible to come right out and say that Iraq was in some way responsible for the 9-11 attacks.
Here's my comment to that thread:
Bush's comments are best understood in the full context of the press conference, particularly in light of the preceding question and response (scroll near the bottom): 20060821.html

Does _H_ give us an example where Bush was asked about Iraq's role in the 9-11 attacks prior to the war, BTW?

The occasion was a press conference with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, which took place in the White House on 31 January 2003. Here's the key portion:

[Adam Boulton, Sky News (London):] One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?

THE PRESIDENT: I can't make that claim.

THE PRIME MINISTER: That answers your question.

And in the current case, Bush didn't rule out Iraqi support of al Qaida in the 9-11 attacks. Proof of no connection at all would be pretty much impossible. Bush's actual comment was "Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken." 20060821.html

In short, Bush's comment should be taken to indicate that that the deposing of Hussein was not punishment for the 9-11 attacks, but the response to a future terrorist threat along the same lines. That has been the administration's consistent position.
(commentary thread)

And here is _H_'s reply:

Claiming the administrations position has been consistent since 9/11 is very funny.

Hey , I am the first to throw my hand in the air when it comes to being biased but that really takes the biscuit.

Believe what you want. Others will judge as they see fit. I doubt you will find many outside of the extreme right wing of the US that would have the audacity to claim that the position held by the US administration has been consistent.

But each to their own I suppose.
(commentary thread)

So, confronted with a thread that provides facts in opposition to his claim that Bush never took the opportunity to deny that Iraq was behind the 9-11 attacks, _H_ doesn't even acknowledge the evidence.
Confronted with analysis showing how the recent press conference accords with the long-held position of the administration, _H_ ridicules the analysis without providing evidence that would contradict the analysis.

Isn't that against the rules for TN commentary threads?

Heh. Not really:
"At the discretion of the editors here at Terrorism News the following rules apply."


"The discretion of the editors will be applied as they see fit."
(Comment rules)

"... the Pirate's Code is more of a set of what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules."
--Barbarosa, from Pirates of the Caribbean

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Changing the perspective

Suppose that the U.S. had not pushed for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Further suppose that the Iraqi people had risen up and overthrown Saddam Hussein.

Suppose further still that the majority in Iraq had installed a democratic, representative government based on the unity of Iraq's religiously disparate provinces while opposing terrorism.

What nation, besides Iran, would refrain from establishing friendly diplomatic relations with Iraq?
Certainly not the nations of the West, I hope. Even Democrats would be delighted at the Iraqi people's pre-emptive strike against their oppressive government, I think.

Let's take our suppositions one step further.

Suppose that sectarian violence began to threaten the stability of the fledgling Iraqi government in the scenario painted above. Suppose that Iraq requested security forces from the West in large numbers, and suppose that those forces would be under the threat of terrorist-style attacks such as IEDs.

Should the policy be hands-off at that point? Would we want the kids in our military placed in the middle of a civil war "with targets on their backs"?

Power Line: Sunni terrorists "boxed out"

John Hinderaker at Power Line blog makes a fundamental point about the shifting basis for Islamic terrorism:
With Hezbollah's mini-success in Lebanon, and Iran's success in subsidizing Hezbollah and moving towards the development of nuclear weapons, it has become the conventional wisdom that the Shiites have surpassed the Sunnis as the main threat to the West. Less note is made of the reason why the Sunnis seem to be lagging--the fact that they have no major state sponsoring their terrorism and their development of weaponry. Even less note (none that I'm aware of) is made of the reason why the Sunnis lack such a state--the overthrow by the U.S. of the Taliban in Afghanistan and of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
(Power Line)

I would only add that the comparison is hopefully between radical Sunnis and radical Shiites.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

John Kerry: Lieberman "out of step" with the people of Connecticut

During an interview with George Stephanopoulos, likely DNC presidential hopeful John Kerry suggested that Joe Lieberman was "out of step with the people of Connecticut" while criticizing Lieberman's run for Senate as an independent candidate.
(ABC News)

Despite Kerry's claim, Lieberman leads in the recent Quinnipiac poll in a three-way race with 53 percent to challenger Lamont's 41 percent.

Must be Kerry's vaunted nuance that makes him appear the idiot to the casual observer.

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

Bucs drop preseason game to Dolphins, 13-10

Preseason games are strange.
It's nice to win preseason games, but the purpose of the game is to prepare the team for the regular season. Nobody really pays serious attention to preseason titles.

Well, I wanted the Bucs to beat the Dolphins, but it didn't happen. The Bucs committed three costly turnovers and lost the game despite moving deep into Miami territory late in the game while trailing by only three.

Here's the important stuff, however;
  • The Bucs were considerably less effective running the ball than against last week's opponent, the New York Jets. There are three main reasons for this. The Dolphins play defense better than the Jets.
  • The Bucs rested tailbacks Carnell Williams and Michael Pittman. Mike Alstott ran the ball effectively twice before giving way to Earnest Graham and Carey Davis.
  • The offensive line got shuffled like a deck of cards. Starting center John Wade was held out of the game, allowing challenger Sean Mahan to get considerable time at that position. The line didn't just move to second-string and third-string during the game. Players were moved to alternate positions. Challenger for the starting right guard position, Jeb Terry, played much of the time at left guard. Tonui Fonoti, who had been challenging for Dan Buenning's position at left guard, played at right guard. Continuity is one of the keys to good offensive line play. The Bucs sacrificed that in order to assess the versatility of the linemen under game conditions.
Bruce Gradkowski had another terrific game. He threw the critical interception at the end of the game when the Bucs attempted to win at the end, but the ball went off the receiver's hands.
Many would suggest that the interception was on the receiver, since the ball might have been caught, but I'd say that responsibility is rightly shared on that one. Throwing a high and hard pass to a player in the flat, especially a tad off-target, makes it likely that the ball will be deflected up into the air. Gradkowski should have thrown the ball lower and more accurately. Still, overall he played great, earning considerable praise from Head Coach Jon Gruden after the game.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A kinder view of the NSA decision

While researching a reply to Barnum's Baileywick, I ran across a University of Chicago Law School faculty member who more-or-less heaps praise on the decision of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor.
Geof Stone wrote:
Regular readers of the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog will not be surprised to learn that I applaud Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's August 17 decision declaring President Bush's NSA surveillance program unlawful. Judge Taylor ruled that the President's secret directive to the NSA to engage in warrantless electronic surveillance of telephone calls and emails involving American citizens on American soil violates both the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the Constitution. On several occasions, I have posted entries on this site arguing for those conclusions (read more)

The first three comments (there are only three thus far) lay emphasis on the lack of solid reasoning in Judge Taylor's opinion.

Hugh Hewitt has noted that no Democratic Party leader has criticized the decision.
See Hewitt's blog post, Any Vote For Any Democrat Is A Vote Against Victory And A Vote For Vulnerability.

It's early. Maybe some prominent Democrats will speak out against the decision.

One interesting trend (which came up during a segment of Hewitt's radio show featuring Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke) is that Democrats are applauding the decision while also saying that they support the wiretaps--it's just that they think the way Bush did the wiretaps is illegal. This reasoning seems to implicitly concede the administration's argument that surveillance of enemy forces is an inherent aspect of war powers. These few Democrats are saying that it is a great idea to proceed with a program like that of the NSA. Unfortunately, they forgot to specify that when granting Bush war powers to oppose terrorism, and Bush is presumed not to possess such powers unless the Congress gives a specific OK.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Washington Post slams NSA decision by Judge Taylor

Hat tip to Power Line.
THE NATION would benefit from a serious, scholarly and hard-hitting judicial examination of the National Security Administration's program of warrantless surveillance. The program exists on ever-more uncertain legal ground; it is at least in considerable tension with federal law and the Bill of Rights. Careful judicial scrutiny could serve both to hold the administration accountable and to provide firmer legal footing for such surveillance as may be necessary for national security.

Unfortunately, the decision yesterday by a federal district court in Detroit, striking down the NSA's program, is neither careful or scholarly, and it is hard-hitting only in the sense that a bludgeon is hard-hitting. The angry rhetoric of U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor will no doubt grab headlines. But as a piece of judicial work--that is, as a guide to what the law requires and how it either restrains or permits the NSA's program--her opinion will not be helpful.
(read the rest)

Judge Taylor was a Carter appointee, for what it's worth.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Federal judge rules NSA program unconstitutional

John Hinderaker at Power Line suggests that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ignored precedent in reaching her decision, and notes the weakness in the federal court system that allowed the ACLU to shop around in order to increase the chance for a sympathetic judge.

Hinderaker also notes that Judge Taylor was in on the judge-shopping scandal concerning the racial preferences issue at the University of Michigan.

Finally, Hinderaker says that it's likely that Judge Taylor will be reversed by a higher court--one that pays attention to precedent.

Power Line is one of the best blogs for these types of stories, since it's a group blog by lawyers.
The text of the decision is here (.pdf).

The clueless principals of "Terrorism News"

"DJEB" and "_H_" at "Terrorism News" seem intent on providing new material enabling me to employ reason to ridicule their views.

The latest case concerns discussion of the "news" that Americans believe spin rather than facts, courtesy of a bylineless editorial opinion at New Jersey's the Record.

I happen to know something about the issue, since I wrote about it back when it could still be considered news (in the sense of being timely, July 26).

The editorial, as I noted in my comment over at TN, was hilarious.

The author admits that WMDs were found in Iraq, yet thinks strange the results of a Harris poll indicating the belief that Iraq possessed WMD leading up to the Iraq War increased from 36 percent to about 50 percent "despite the fact that, after the invasion, U.S. inspectors took 16 months and spent $900 million to conclude that Saddam had no chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons leading up to the invasion."
A couple of paragraphs later, the author is apparently admitting the existence of the munitions publicized earlier this year by Senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Pete Hoekstra, both Republicans, yet without any acknowledgment that the admission contradicts the accuracy of the claim he earlier attributed to U.S. inspectors. Instead, those munitions apparently do not count since they are over 15 years old. As I wrote over at TN:
The author admits that Iraq had hundreds of WMD munitions at the beginning of the war, yet thinks that it is ridiculous that as many as 50% of Americans believe that Iraq possessed WMD.

I must have missed the part of UN resolution 1441 that made it okay for Iraq to keep undeclared caches of WMD.
(discussion thread)

DJEB was the first to reply, succeeding in getting a foot in his mouth within the space of two sentences.
Regarding the weapons, I've heard the claim by the Republican senators, I haven't seen any proof of their claims. Their claim goes directly against the finding of the ISG.
(discussion thread)

Too funny.
DJEB's site posted the editorial. The editorialist acknowledges the account of the weapons ("The containers are abandoned munitions at least 15 years old. Even the Pentagon says so.").
DJEB just picks and chooses what he wants to believe, apparently.
The editorial says that the "U.S. inspectors" flatly claimed that there were no weapons? Great, 'cause that's what DJEB believes.
The editorial acknowledges the existence of pre-Gulf War WMDs? Whoa! Where's the proof of that?

In fact, the editorial misrepresents the findings of the ISG.
From the initial Duelfer Report:
  • Although only a fraction of Iraq's total munitions inventory was identified and exploited for CW rounds, a review of high priority facilities and munitions caches and locations identified prior to OIF as suspect CW storage or transfer sites, did not reveal caches of chemical weapons.
(Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD)

A few lines later:

  • ISG technical experts fully evaluated less than one quarter of one percent of the over 10,000 weapons caches throughout Iraq, and visited fewer than 10 ammunition depots identified prior to OIF as suspect CW sites.
  • The enormous number of munitions dispersed throughout the country may include some older, CW-filled munitions, and ISG cannot discount the possibility that a few large caches of munitions remain to be discovered within Iraq.
(Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD)

And from the report addendum:
Remaining Uncertainties. Some uncertainties remain and some information will continue to emerge about the WMD programs or the former regime. Reports cited in the Comprehensive Report concerning the possible movement of WMD or WMD materials from Iraq prior to the war remain unresolved.
(.pdf, page 4)
The U.S. inspectors conclude that there were no chemical or biological weapons in Iraq leading up to the invasion while remaining uncertain as to whether such weapons had been moved out of Iraq?
That's rich, and clearly the burden of proof rests on those who interpret the report in like manner to substantiate the claim. In the interim, it is appropriately regarded as an error (if it's not instead an outright lie).


As usual, DJEB and _H_ fall all over themselves trying to defend either the article or some position that they feel is topically related to the article.

After his initial phagopodia, DJEB says that even if there were WMDs, the war is not justified on the basis of what was found.
And that's not changing the subject? Review the title of the editorial, DJEB.

DJEB acts as apologist for Hussein: "Also, the existence of degraded pud would almost certainly be due to clerical error."
And how about unfilled chemical warheads? Was that also "almost certainly" clerical error? Was it a clerical error that resulted in the warheads being empty, or a clerical error resulting in the warheads not being destroyed?
Maybe a clerical error allowed their discovery by UNMOVIC in the first place?

Then, predictably, DJEB claims that degraded chemical payloads do not constitute chemical weapons. The fact that the chemical could still kill people (or incapacitate in the case of the less lethal types) apparently no longer counts. Since it is less effective, it simply doesn't count.
Kind of the way a loaf of bread is no longer a loaf of bread once the last date of sale passes.
For that matter, Iraq possessed binary-type sarin warheads. The binary warhead largely sidesteps the problem of degradation over time, since the weapon subdivides the deadly toxin into more stable constituent parts.

One would think that Scott Ritter would have remembered to mention that (about sarin).

The rest of DJEB's post consists of quotations from a book by (wacko) Ritter and some other chap named William Rivers Pitt.
DJEB loves those unbiased sources.

The Ritter quotations seem focused on Ritter's about-face assurances that Iraq was disarmed, while DJEB continues to ignore the acknowledgement in the posted article that WMD had been found in Iraq.
"Iraq today is not disarmed, and remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and to world peace. Those American [sic] who think that this is important and that something should be done about it have to be deeply disappointed in our leadership."
(Scott Ritter's Senate testimony, 1998)


_H_ is just as bad.

He begins, quoting me via italics:
The author admits that Iraq had hundreds of WMD munitions at the beginning of the war.

Isn't it great when you can spin things out of context

The paragraph before clearly describes hundreds of unearthed chemical weapons containers.
(discussion thread)

_H_ has a weird idea of what constitutes spin.

I wrote with the knowledge of official document, the only official statement (so far as I'm aware) as to the nature of the recovered "containers."
Here is the relevant text of that document:
Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.
If anybody is spinning, it's the writer of the editorial. The munitions are probably (at least most of them) artillery or rocket warheads, not mere "containers" of chemicals as _H_ seems to suppose based on the editorial spin of the opinion piece that appeared at TN.
It makes no claim that the content of the containers can be defined as chemical weapons. The article talks of munitions ... Which does not mean weapons but simply War materials(note: In common usage, "munitions" [plural] can be military weapons, munitions, and equipment) . The cases are munitions but are certainly not weapons (well unless you wanted to bang somebody over the head with the useless container).
(discussion thread)

What an utter load of hogwash. The original declassified document used the term "weapons munitions." _H_ has no clue what he's talking about, apparently misled by writers such as our anonymous editorialist (in an oh-so-delicious ironic turnabout).
_H_ blathers on (taking advantage of the hosts' privilege of going off-topic):
I wonder what percentage of those Americans are unaware that those weapons(when they were weapons) were developed with US support and approval and technology and in many cases the chemical themselves were supplied by US and UK companies with the full authority of the Governments concerned and predate the first gulf war.
(discussion thread)

France and Russia (USSR) had by far the closest economic (especially military) relations with Iraq. Iraq had chemical weapons before the U.S. began to support Iraq as Iran gained an advantage in the Iran-Iraq War. The US did supply chemical precursors which may be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons, but those chemicals were dual-use items with legitimate applications in industry and agriculture.

Nations at war are particularly in need of a functional economy. I know of no evidence that any chemicals intentionally provided by the US (or the UK) were employed in the manufacture of chemical weapons--and I doubt that _H_ would be able to produce any such evidence, though he is certainly invited to post that evidence here in the commentary thread. If he chooses to make that move, I pledge to reproduce his evidence prominently in a main blog post so that it gets the attention it deserves.
why did you exclude the sentence U.S. inspectors took 16 months and spent $900 million to conclude that Saddam had no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons leading up to the invasion. He had dismantled them more than a decade before.
(discussion thread)
That's an easy question.
1) I didn't quote at all from the article, so the decision not to include that portion in addition to all of the other portions I chose to exclude was very easy.
2) I was trying to be brief and to-the-point.
3) I counted on the reader being aware of the content of the article and to recognize the contradiction between the above-quoted claim and the discovery of armed chemical warheads in Iraq.
You are not only spinning the facts , you are spinning the article. :)
The article contained enough spin to confuse _H_ about the facts.
I'm setting the record straight (and I invite correction where the correction is appropriately documented).
I must have missed the part of UN resolution 1441 that made it okay for Iraq to keep undeclared caches of WMD.

Now that is hilarious ...

I must have missed the part of resolution 1441 that made it okay for the United [S]tates to invade and occupy a sovereign nation breaking the UN charter and hence international law.

I must have missed the part of resolution 1441 where it allowed the US alone to define what the UN security council could only define as serious consequences.

I must have missed the part of resolution 1441 that means that the US-led invasion was anything other than illegal.

If you wish to punish Saddam for breaching resolution 1441 (and let us not forget that the UN never agreed that he did break 1441 and would have declined any US request to claim that he did at least until Hans Blix had finished his inspections) Then you should also punish the US for going beyond the scope of 1441 and breaking the UN charter.

The US can not [sic] decide if Saddam broke 1441 for it was not the US that defined the terms of 1441. It was the UNSC who wrote 1441 and only the UNSC as a whole could have determined if he was or was not in breach of the resolution.
(discussion thread)
Hmmm. One of us seems to have drifted away from the topic of Iraq possessing WMD to another topic, again illustrating the freedom the hosts at TN allow themselves while forbidding the same to others.

The legality of the Iraq War is a worthy topic, since there are so many on the left who sustain the misperception that the war was illegal. I'll probably get around to posting on that separate topic.
In partial answer, however, the refusal of the UN to act is probably explained by the money trail--one should learn to follow the money for nations other than the United States.

France and Russia, as already mentioned, were the two nations with the closest economic ties to Saddam Hussein's regime. Both nations had outstanding debts in the billions owed to them by the Iraqi government. Those nations, coincidentally, were those who presented the key UNSC opposition to anything resembling "serious consequences" as a result of Iraq having broken resolution 1441, and it should not be seriously questioned that Iraq materially breached that resolution (try reading it).
_H_ ought to click on the link above and refresh his memory as to what nations drafted resolution 1441, by the way.
It is no surprise to see just how accurate the claim Americans believe spin, not facts seems to be. The proof appears right here in this very thread.
(discussion thread)

By all appearances, _H_'s claim above stems from his own uncritical acceptance of spin. Neither he nor DJEB has approached any degree of demonstration that I have accepted spin. They have, however, demonstrated that they do tend to uncritically accept false news reports. DJEB and _H_ affirmed belief that the ISG found that Iraq did not have WMD, consonant with the incorrect opinion from the editorial.
The ISG made no such determination.

Now, that would truly be news to many of TN's left-leaning readers. Let's see how long it takes them to share it.

Note, Aug 19, 11:00 a.m.
I just fixed an error in my transciption of the declassified information for which Santorum and Hoekstra pressed. My earlier transcription read "degraded sarin or nerve agent" but should have read "degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent."
It's worth pointing out at this point that the language is ambiguous. The sarin nerve agent
may not have degraded, particularly if the munitions were of the binary type discussed above.
I would say that it is more likely, however, that the sentence intends to say that either type of chemical had degraded over time, though to an unspecified degree.

I apologize if any confusion or false belief resulted from my error.

***I located a second error that requires an apology. I quoted DJEB as replacing "ISG" with "IDF" but that substitution occurred only in my transcription; it was not part of the original. The corrupted quotation made DJEB look silly in an unjustified manner.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Carter takes lead again in race of worsest-ever ex-presidents

The Der Spiegel interview featuring Jimmy Carter gave the ex-president another golden opportunity to cement his record as worst ex-president ever.

I'm not going to waste my time dissecting his slew of ridiculous statements since I expect that the right-hand side of the blogosphere will be all over it. My favorite comment so far comes from Geek Girl Blonde.
Ah. The old canard that holding absolute beliefs naturally leads to treating other people with indignity and disrespect. What, the Abu Ghraib guards were all Sunday School teachers? They were getting regular communiques from Jerry Falwell? They looked at their WWJD bracelets and decided to sexually humiliate the prisoners?

Carter is being ridiculous. If fundamentalism per se were a sure route to violence and inhumanity, then we'd be dealing with a terror wave of militant Baptists and radical Amish.

The lessons of the past

The New York Post has published a column by history professor Arthur Herman concerning the Lebanon ceasefire agreement.
August 16, 2006 -- Historians will look back at this weekend's cease-fire agreement in Lebanon as a pivotal moment in the war on terror. It is pivotal in the same sense that the Munich agreement between Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain was pivotal in an earlier battle against the enemies of freedom. The accord in October 1938 revealed to the world that the solidarity of the Western allies was a sham, and that the balance of power had shifted to the fascist dictators.

Resolution 1701 shows that, for the time being at least, the balance has likewise shifted to the terrorists and their state sponsors. Like Munich, it marks the triumph of the principle of putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. Like Munich, it will mean not peace in our time, but a bigger war in our future.
(New York Post)
Ed Morrissey over at Captain's Quarters sees the willingness of the Iranians to reconsider their stance on uranium enrichment as a sign that the cease-fire agreement is something other than a victory for Islamo-fascism.

I hope that Morrissey is right, but the Iranians have been stringing along those negotiations in a way that gives me little hope. It is more likely that Dr. Herman will appear the prophet when all is said and done.

Hat tip to Power Line.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Jay Rosen on Porkbusters

My haunting of liberal blogs indirectly led to this post.

"Pushing Rope" is a blog centered on Florida politics. Since I'm a Floridian interested in politics, that blog draws my attention. Michael Hussey, apparently the primary contributer at Pushing Rope, wrote a piece concerning Florida governor candidate Charlie Crist's views on the state budget. Busybody that I am, I initiated a series of comments on that issue. That conversation hasn't matured to the point that I want to write a blog entry, though Michael has mentioned his dislike for pork spending.

Well, bravo for that. Michael's not the only liberal concerned about pork. A blog-based non-partisan movement called Porkbusters has grown up over the past year, and NYU's Jay Rosen published an excellent article on Porkbusters, viewing it as the beginning of an era of networked journalism.

Give it a read:
The Era of Networked Journalism Begins

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Looks like somebody missed the point

Our relatively esteemed Sith blogroller at Wick o' the Bailey, that is.

"Barnum's Baileywick" popped off a lengthy reply ("In Self-Defense") to my post titled "Jedi vs Sith on Lamont/Lieberman fallout." (a problem--hopefully temporary--with the August archive forced me to borrow the URL for my article from Wick o' the Bailey)

In that post, my primary point was that the Democratic Party on the whole, being steered by its pacifist left wing as illustrated by Ned Lamont's primary victory over Joe Lieberman, has the problem of not taking the war against Islamofascism seriously.

I was specific in my post about the reasoning I use in support of that proposition, that being the lack of a Democratic alternative to Bush's foreign policy. An alternative that arguably has a chance to produce victory, I should say. Redeploying to Okinawa, ready to help in Iraq in an emergency at a moment's notice--a part of the Murtha plan--is certainly an alternative. It's just not a serious alternative, since returing to the Middle Eastern theater from Okinawa would be difficult and time-consuming (neglecting the resistance of Okinawans to US military presence).

BB, in supposedly defending himself, only supported the premise of my argument. BB didn't suggest a strategy for winning the war on Islamic fascism. Instead, he defended the Democrats/liberals (should I just go along with the label "progressive"? It describes their tax policy accurately enough ...) from a phantom charge, that all Democrats are weak on the war.

I never failed to count Lieberman as a Democrat. I still count abortion-rights proponents like Rudy Giuliani as Republicans, also. The point is that the party on the whole has increasingly adopted a weak stance on the war, steered in that direction by pacifistic liberal blogs. Ned Lamont's win is a symptom of that movement. Other Democrats whom BB mentioned in support of a strong response to the war are finding their support from the left slipping, and if they value their political future within the Democratic Party they may have to weaken their stance against the spread of Islamic fascism still more.

By responding to the charge without a proposal for winning that war, BB effectively pleads guilty to the charge, given the rationale that I used in support.

I'd be delighted if he would change his plea, of course.
And I'd still allow that he's a progressive, liberal, Democrat, or whatever label he prefers. But one thing that he won't be, if he has a workable plan to beat Islamofascism, is part of the mainstream of the new Democratic Party.

Little nitpicks from BB's post
I did not misspell "boogeyman," so BB need not editorially place "(sic)" after it. There are a number of acceptable spellings of that term, including the one I used.

BB's strong-on-the-war Democrats:

Hillary Rodham Clinton
On the war, Clinton's recent "I disagree with those who believe we should pull out, and I disagree with those who say we should stay without end" seems little different from Kerry's famous "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" line. The last thing we need is another Democrat afraid to stand on principle.
(Markos Moulitsas in the Washington Post)

Jane Harman
When confronted with a primary challenge from the left of her party, Rep. Harman understood that she had lost touch with an important component of her base. And she understood that she needed to find out why, needed to begin a conversation with those party activists and with the netroots community. Not only did she post diaries, she stuck around to comment. Not all of us agreed with her responses, and were adamant in telling her so. But we had an honest exchange of views and, amazingly, she began to take a harder line against the Bush administration. She came back to being a Democrat.
(mcjoan at the Daily Kos)

Joe Lieberman
Lost primary battle to Ned Lamont. Enough said?

Diane Feinstein
"We have to say it's time for your soldiers and police forces to take over," she said.

Feinstein's proposal follows those made by several Democrats in the House and Senate, led by Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, who have called for a timetable for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq.
(San Francisco Chronicle)
I'm not sure what Feinstein's doing on this list, other than for voting for Bush's war powers (along with the majority of Democrats; Senate Dems favored the measure 29-21).
Take a look at the record Feinstein touts at her official website. She lists ten categories of legislative endeavor, and only one fails to hotlink to a description of her role in advocacy. Which one? "Terrorism, Intelligence, and Homeland Security."

I feel safer already.

BB mentions "others" ... hopefully he didn't use his best examples already.

Have I now seen it all?

Not long after I finished criticizing the stance of Not the Country Club respecting Cuba, Al copies a ode to Fidel from another site, called "Why We Love Fidel."

Is it the way he imprisons political dissidents and stifles democratic reforms?

Apparently not.

Because we think there has to be some other way
That there must be more to life than this
That life and living must have some meaning too
As though serving as the prime example of government oppression in the whole of the Americas is a laudable meaning?

A note from the author: I don't like changing posts well after I've published them, other than correcting typographical errors, but the last line was so badly written that I had to change it. Hopefully it is now coherent.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The flag of Hezbollah

After posting the image of Hezbollah's flag in an earlier post, mainly to show the contrast between the image of the upraised gun and Hezbollah's supposed role as a social services organization, I became curious about the words (apparently in Arabic) on the flag.

I don't read Arabic, you see.

I didn't find any unimpeachable sources, but the information at Wikipedia is consistent with what I find elsewhere.

The red Arabic script over the rifle is translated "The Party of God will be the victor."
The stylized section in the middle (the part designed to resemble the profile of a man, and holding the gun), is rendered "Party of God" (Hezbollah), where the first letter of God (Allah), extends upward to hold aloft the gun.
The red script running along the bottom reads "The Islamic Resistance Movement in Lebanon."


I located a story in the Arab press concerning a variant of the flag, which appeared in the backdrop behind Nasrallah during a recent speech. That flag has additional script along the bottom, which apparently would be translated "Prepare for them whatever forces you can muster." That sentence is from the Koran (Chapter 8, verse 60).
In a statement, Rahhal said Hezbollah's flag has not changed, and the verse "Prepare for them whatever forces you can muster" has in fact been on the flag for a long time. He said the flag that appeared in the recording (of Nasrallah's 9 August speech) is the official flag of Hezbollah's and that the yellow flags that are carried by demonstrators or Hezbollah supporters and which do not contain that verse are incomplete and unofficial flags.

A source connected with Hezbollah stated that "the deliberate showing of that verse on Hezbollah's flag could mean preparation for or paving the way for the declaration of holy jihad against the Israelis. That (holy jihad) is usually declared by the al-waliy al-faqih (the ruling jurisconsult; the jurisconsult charged with authority) who in Hezbollah's view is at present (the Supreme Guide of the Iranian revolution) Imam (Ali) Khamenei who sometime ago had expressed his dissatisfaction at the silence of the Muslim world on what is taking place in Lebanon.
(Asharq Al-Awsat)

The photograph above not only shows a portion of the additional text, but it also seems to be missing the AK-47.
I'd surmise that the flag shown was probably produced in the wake of Hezbollah's increased use of Iranian funds to provide social services in southern Lebanon, along with Hezbollah's more recent role in Lebanon as a political party.

Terrorism News

No, this is not about that blog with a misnomer for a name. This is actual news about terrorism.

The Times (UK) reports that Hezbollah has refused to disarm headed into the first day of the peace deal that would have placed the Lebanese army into southern Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah and control the region. Daniel McGregory reports:
Today was supposed to be the day when the muchmaligned army of Lebanon took control of its borders and policed the UN ceasefire.

Instead, its military commanders were left humiliated and its troops stranded as Hezbollah told them not to try to disarm its fighters.
(The Times)
Huh. That seems very strange, since the presence of the Lebanese army should have allowed Hezbollah to focus on its number one priority (according to Canada's own Black Wolf), which is to provide social services to the poor in Lebanon.

Has Black Wolf ever had a look at Hezbollah's flag, I wonder?

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

DJEB as Rumpelstiltskin

This is the third in series of posts inspired by a commentary thread at the Terrorism News blog.

This segment, as with the previous installment, will address comments posted by DJEB, one of the four listed contributors to Terrorism News.

The earlier installment concluded with DJEB unclear as to where he had committed a straw man fallacy in describing Frank's (Frank touched off the discussion with a somewhat off-topic comment) supposed logic. I posted the reply from DJEB that indicated his failure to understand that his desciption of Frank's logic was distorted in that earlier post; here now is the reply I posted in the commentary thread.
You really can't figure out where you invented the straw man?
How did you figure out that Frank's religious sensibilities were offended? Was that part of his "syllogism" or did you invent that for him?

Let's just call it a premise until he presents his argument formally, m-kay?
And maybe give him a chance to present his own premise instead of inventing one for him.
My reply pointed out the fact that Frank's original reply indicated nothing about his "religious sensibilities" (by that or any other similar phrase) were offended.

So, what's a great technique to use when you've got no evidence in your favor?
Bryan, scroll up. He was clearly making his comments because of his religious position relating to an article looking at the religious right. If that's not it, I couldn't see it. No copyright infringement there.
DJEB's "copyright infringement" remark refers to an earlier claim he made to the effect that political conservatives MOL own the straw man fallacy; earlier I'd been confused as to what he was talking about when he later used that phrase in a play at cleverness.
DJEB's reply doesn't answer my questions. Instead, he takes the implicit position that Frank's post self-evidently supports his position, which is a very simple method commonly used to shift the burden of proof. Through this technique, DJEB would hope to save himself the trouble of demonstrating the similarity between Frank's argument and the argument that DJEB created for Frank, despite the fact that Frank mentioned absolutely nothing about his religious sensibilities being offended.
Here's Frank's comment, for review:
I'm sorry that you chose to include this article in your "Terrorism-news" blog. This does nothing but show your bias. Because of this, I sadly cannot take anything on your blog seriously. I was hoping to find useful, scholarly information about terrorism, but .... oh well.
Obviously, his religious sensibilities were offended, eh?

DJEB did include a bit of a caveat, saying "If that's not it, I couldn't see it." Apparently he guessed at Frank's reason for finding the article indicative of bias respecting terrorism and felt sufficiently comfortable with his guesswork that he used his assumption about Frank to flesh out a syllogism supposedly representing Frank's logic.

_H_, the primary contributer to the Terrorism News blog, had been interspersing his own comments throughout, and DJEB's final comment to me seems to rely on _H_'s commentary for context, though obviously it seeks to answer my charge that DJEB committed a straw man fallacy:
Global warming is not a terrorist, either, yet no one ever said "Boo!" about the global warming stories we posted not having enough to do with terrorism.

Next, two suggestions. First, get ahold of T. Edward Damer's book Attacking Faulty Reasoning and find out that I am not guilty of copyright infringement. Second, make your next post an on topic post or watch your post disappear. _H_ has responded to this one and out of courtesy I'll leave it up, but your next off-topic post gets deleted. If it's 99% on topic and 1% off, it gets deleted. Simple enough. You just keep repeating yourself over and over here wasting our time. It stops now.
A great way to get away with a fallacy of shifting the burden of proof, needless to say, would be to count the other guy as being off-topic if he insists that you haven't addressed your burden of proof properly and begin deleting his posts as a result. It's also convenient being able to count your own posts as on-topic regardless of content while accusing the other guy of going off-topic. Think of it as a "last word guarantee."

Again, the folks at TN can run their site as they see fit (with my blessing on that freedom)--but they can't make themselves immune from outside criticism.
Case in point with the reference to Damer's book. DJEB seeks to refute the charge that he is guilty of presenting a corrupted version of Frank's argumentation by making reference to nothing specific. It is simply assumed that Damer's account frees him from the charge, and it is apparently my burden of proof to seek out the covert argument and refute it--in other words, the burden of proof is on me to show that Frank didn't say that his religious sensibilities were offended, and I need to do more to prove it than to cite Frank's comments (which contain nothing at all about Frank's religious sensibilities being offended).

The impression one receives, under the assumption that DJEB is familiar with the contents of Damer's book, is that DJEB failed to acquire a substantial understanding of the work.
The reference to Damer's book is apparently supposed to turn the straw man into a golden argument. Shades of Rumpelstiltskin.

Hajj photo review

Through the wonders of the primitive "Paint" program, I've finally got the enhancement of the enhanced/unenhanced Beirut photo by Adnan Hajj.

In the original, note that the horizon line, indicated in yellow, is relatively straight and even from left to right.
In the altered version, the horizon line to the left is markedly higher.
I used green lines to mark the elements in the scenery that were reproduced with the secondary image placed above the original object in alignment with the smoke plume.

So, if anybody didn't have any idea what I was talking about with my post here, hopefully this helped.

Note: The image of a human head in the second image was not among the Annan Hajj alterations. That was a joke by one of the bloggers writing on the issue. Since the image still serves well to illustrate the type of alterations that Hajj made to the image (the lines I added ignored the giant human head in favor of the extra buildings and smoke), I'm not going to duplicate my work anew on a more pristine version of the Hajj touch-up.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What report? Providing some context

I'd previously noted the call to refrain from interfering with the baton handoff from ailing Fidel Castro, presumably to his brother (and vice president) Raul Castro, found over at Not the Country Club.

One of the key quotations in the petition calling for recognition of Cuba's sovereignty--apparently intended to underscore the threat that the US would actively interfere (militarily) in Cuba, was this one, which I've left embedded in context:
Already the "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba", presided over by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, pointed out in a report issued in June "the urgency of working today to ensure that the Castro regime's succession strategy does not succeed" and President Bush indicated that this document "demonstrates that we are actively working for change in Cuba, not simply waiting for change". The Department of State has emphasized that the plan includes measures that will remain secret "for reasons of national security" and to assure its "effective implementation".

It is not difficult to imagine the character of such measures and the "announced assistance" if one considers the militarization of the foreign policy of the present American administration and its performance in Iraq.
This blog has been a dead giveaway that I'm sensitive to the issue of quoting properly and in context. Partial quotations such as those above tend to draw my interest, especially where the source is not specified. In this case the source for the initial quotation is mentioned sufficiently to assist in tracking down the report in question, found here, and here's the quotation with its context (I recommend reading the entire section, which I am only partially transcribing here):
Yet at the same time that we see hope and growth in Cuban civil society, Fidel Castro and his inner circle have begun a gradual but intrinsically unstable process of succession. The regime is unquestionably attempting to insulate itself from the consequences of Fidel Castro's incapacitation, death, or ouster. The regime continues to harden its edges and is feverishly working to forestall any opportunity for a genuine democratic transition on the island.

The current regime in Havana is working with like-minded governments, particularly Venezuela, to build a network of political and financial support designed to forestall any external pressure to change. This state of affairs highlights the urgency of working today to ensure that the Cuban succession strategy does not succeed.

It is against this back-drop that the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba again assembles and looks at the question of how to help the Cuban people hasten and ensure a genuine democratic transition on the island. This is a time for bold, decisive action and clarity of message.

Recommendations to hasten the end of the Castro dictatorship include: measures to empower the Cuban people to prepare for change by strengthening support to civil society; breaking the regime's information blockade; a diplomatic strategy to undermine the regime's succession strategy by supporting the Cuban people's right right to determine their future; and measures to deny revenue to the Castro regime that is used to strengthen its repressive security apparatus and to bolster the regime against pressure for change.
The petition version tends to encourage the reader to see sinister motives in the words from the report and from the president, while utterly ignoring the issues (such as the controls on information sustained by the Castro regime) discussed in the report itself. Sure, one could assume that the report is just a bunch of lies and propaganda put forth by the US government, but if that were the case then there would be little point in quoting US government sources as proof of the sinister intent. Without some coherent method for distinguishing between the truth and the lie, one is poised to indulge in the type of reasoning common to crackpot conspiracy theorists (where all of the information, regardless of content, may be used to support the desired thesis).
So, is Cuba politically oppressive as things stand? Human Rights Watch appears to think so:
Despite the release in 2004 of fourteen of the seventy-five political dissidents, independent journalists, and human rights advocates prosecuted in April 2003, human rights conditions in Cuba have not improved. The Cuban government systematically denies its citizens basic rights to free expression, association, assembly, movement, and a fair trial. It restricts nearly all avenues of political dissent, and uses police warnings, surveillance, short-term detentions, house arrests, travel restrictions, criminal prosecutions, and politically-motivated dismissals from employment as methods of enforcing political conformity.
(Human Rights Watch)
In fact, the HRW page from which I quoted advocates specific external pressures to induce change in the Castro regime.

Maybe the external pressures considered by the US are evil? Let's consider the evidence, aside from the recommendation to use one's imagination while thinking about the war in Iraq.

What about those secret measures mentioned in the text of the petition?
First, allow me to supply the missing context to the quoted material: "This is an unclassified report. For reasons of national security and effective implementation, some recommendations are contained in a separate classified annex." [bold emphasis added, italics in the original]
Is it strange that a document concerning foreign policy might touch on classifed information and thus a public version would omit some of the recommendations? I'm not an expert on foreign policy, but it does not seem suspicious to me. Indeed, if the phrasing above refers particularly to military/CIA activities, I probably wouldn't even mention it in the public document if I were in charge. In short, I don't see good evidence here for supposing opposition of the Castro succession other than through diplomacy, albeit there is such a thing as hardball diplomacy.

Finally, I thought I'd provide the context of the Bush quotation.
Today I approved the second report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. I also approved a Compact with the People of Cuba, which outlines how the United States will support the Cuban people as they transition from the repressive control of the Castro regime to freedom and a genuine democracy. The report demonstrates that we are actively working for change in Cuba, not simply waiting for change. I call on all our democratic friends and allies around the world to join us in supporting freedom for the Cuban people. I applaud the work of the Commission, co-chaired by Secretary Rice and Secretary Gutierrez.
Here is the compact of which he speaks.