Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boeing and Textron form JLTV partnership

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Aircraft makers Boeing Co. and Textron Inc. will jointly bid on an Army contract likely worth billions of dollars to build light armored vehicles for U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The agreement announced late Monday will join a St. Louis-based unit of Boeing with a New Orleans-based unit of Textron to compete for the first phase of the contract, which requires building a demonstration vehicle that the Pentagon can test.


This adds another significant player to the long list of companies hunting JLTV contracts.


The News: Dog saves owner from snake in Australia

Australia is poisonous.
SYDNEY: An Australian sheepdog is fighting for its life after being bitten while saving its owner from a huge and deadly snake, local media reported Wednesday.

Fay Palethorpe, 68, was gardening on her large Gold Coast property when she encountered a two-metre (six-foot) eastern brown snake, the Australian media reported.
(The News)
Eastern brown snake? I've heard of the tiger snake and a few others, but the eastern brown snake rings no bells.

Looks like it's from the cobra family.

The Latin name, Pseudonaja, means "false cobra."


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Independent: The level of "murderous violence" in Iraq has not declined

It's still possible to find journalists utterly convinced that things are going horribly in Iraq.

The example in this case comes from the Independent, a UK newspaper that helps exemplify the difference between traditional American journalist and its European counterpart.

Calling it the worst human displacement in Iraq's modern history, a report by the UN migration office suggests that the fierce fighting that has followed the arrival of new US troops is partly responsible.

The spectre of ethnic cleansing now hovers over the once relatively harmonious country. The UN found that 63 per cent of the Iraqis fled their neighbourhoods because of threats to their lives. More than 25 per cent said they fled after being thrown out of their homes at gunpoint.

The statistics were released as President George Bush's policy of staying the course in Iraq was under grave threat yesterday as the scale of the humanitarian disaster became clearer and a key Republican senator said that it was time to bring the troops home.

A dangerous rift has also emerged inside the US military between the high command, which says the strain the war is putting on the military endangers American security, and commanders on the ground who still say it is a winnable war.

(the Independent)

Though author Leonard Doyle emphasized that the surge of U.S. troops is to blame ("partly to blame" minus the mention of any other factors), the report itself seems very reluctant to make that connection. From page 1:
However, displacement is not limited to sectarian violence; many IDPs are fleeing their homes due to lawlessness experienced throughout the country that is creating an environment of fear in which criminals, militia, and insurgents thrive. In addition, humanitarian agencies are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to provide assistance to those most in need.
(Iraqi Displacement 2007 Mid-Year Review)
In Baghdad in particular:
The majority (63%) of those assessed reported that they fled direct threats to life, and over a quarter said that they had been forcibly displaced from their property. When asked why they were targeted, 89% said it was due to their religious/sectarian identity.
(page 2)
In fact, after reviewing the document, it looks as though Doyle is simply lying. There is nothing in the report to suggest that the U.S. troop surge is even partly responsible for the displacement of Iraqis, at least not in the normal sense of "suggests."

Doyle may have meant that something in the numbers suggested to him that U.S. military operations were to blame. As for what that was, Doyle feels no need to tell us. Add to that Doyle's entirely dubious conclusion that displacement is indicative of no decline in "murderous violence."

The report referenced by Doyle indicates that military operations have tended to stabilize some areas, with resulting destabilization in other areas. The latter destabilized areas become the new targets for stabilization, and with the "clear and hold" strategy implemented by Gen. David Petraeus, an expectation that the troop surge will end up addressing the displacement problem seems reasonable. Predictably, none of that ends up in Doyle's story.

***** 18 manufacturers vie for JLTV contracts

The Army hopes to accelerate JLTV development, as prescribed by John Young, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, who issued a Sept. 19 directive to institute prototyping earlier in the procurement process.

Eighteen manufacturers responded to the Army’s invitation to send concept vehicles and prototypes, including General Tactical Vehicles, Hadas, Intermap Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Magna Powertrain, Mistral, ODF Optronics, Oshkosh Truck, Partsmaster, Precision Remotes, Remote Reality, Reynolds Fasteners, Robertson Aviation, Rockwell Collins, Tai, Tesla Industries and VSE.
That's a long list, and I see no obvious sign of involvement at this stage by BAE Systems, Force Protection Inc. or Protected Vehicles Inc.

The two latter companies have produced prototypes that have been suggested as Hummvee replacements.

It may be that some of the companies listed above reflect partnerships involving one or more of the missing names.


Monday, October 29, 2007

More good news from Iraq

Baghdad, Oct 29, (VOI) - Iraqi security forces on Monday managed to free 8 of 11 kidnapped tribal chiefs following a military operation, defense ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said.

"The operation, based on reliable intelligence reports, began this afternoon by al-Rasafa security forces in Baghdad," al-Askari told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
"Three chiefs remain captives after the gunmen moved them to another location," he added, asserting that Iraqi forces are searching for them.
Regarding the death of Sheikh Mathhar al-Azzawi, the spokesman said that he has no information in this regard.
The U.S. military earlier on Monday accused Arkan Hasnawi, a former Shiite militant from cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's al-Mahdi army, of kidnapping the group of Shiite and Sunni leaders.
"Based on intelligence sources, Multi-National Force-Iraq has identified Arkan Hasnawi, a former brigade commander in Jaysh Al Mahdi, as being responsible for the kidnapping of Shiite and Sunni tribal leaders from Diala province yesterday," the U.S. army said in a statement received by the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

(Aswat Aliraq)

What makes this good news?

The tribal chiefs aligning against al Qaida were freed. Of course that's good. The fact that they were kidnapped in the first place ... not so good.

The good news in the broad scope of the war is the role of Iraqi security forces. Iraq pulled off the operation with pretty good success.

The Belmont Club adds to the story.


The numbers from Iraq Body Count

Iraq Body Count, which draws its numbers from news and official reports, seems to agree with the growing consensus that violence is dropping in Iraq.

The surge seems to have provided the antidote to the bombing of the mosque at Samarra, which touched off a terrible cycle of sectarian violence.

If the bombing was perpetrated by al Qaida, it was a inspired case of savage strategy. It made things difficult for the coalition as well as the new national government, and it created the conditions for recruitment of hopeless Iraqis to a hopeless cause.

Fortunately, it seems that with the Anbar Awakening and similar dynamics near Baghdad that the average Iraqi now knows who the real enemy is. The butchery of Iraqis by al Qaeda overlords sent the message better than any print or radio source could ever have done.

It would be nice if the graph foretold the rest of the year ...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jaguars edge Bucs in Tampa

The Jacksonville Jaguars overcame the loss of their starting quarterback, David Garrard, last week to post another road victory, this time against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs lost their second game in a row, and their second consecutive loss to a team that was statistically overmatched except in the turnover department.

The Bucs made a number of mistakes, including a pass interception returned for a touchdown in the first half (posting Jacksonville to a 17-3 lead), and the Jaguars' edge in big plays ended up earning them the win.

The offense, save for the interceptions, was impressive against Jacksonville. The Bucs ran the ball effectively, and had a number of opportunities for big plays. The Bucs have traditionally struggled to run against the Jaguars, who boast a stout defensive front four.:

The pass rush still isn't getting the job done, but some of that was because Jacksonville hardly threw the ball. Gaines Adams registered half a sack, sharing it with fellow defensive end Greg White. The Jaguars ran the ball pretty well on the Bucs in the first half, but the by the second half could not move the ball consistently on the ground. Jacksonville Quinn Gray looked inaccurate throwing the ball but he ended up doing enough to get the win, going 7-for-16 with one touchdown and no interceptions. Gray was sacked twice, once on an end zone fumble that he managed to move out to the 1 yard line.

Special teams:
Two plays contributed to the loss for the Bucs: A short kickoff taken by an up-man (I think he was a lineman) up past the 50, and a long punt that sailed over Joey Galloway's head from the 7 yard line of Jacksonville to the 17 yard line of the Bucs. That was huge for field position. Matt Bryant was great on field goals, and Maurice Stovall partially blocked a punt.
The Bucs are working some inexperienced players in on special teams, so these struggles are not surprising.

Cornerback Phillip Buchanon pretty much summed up the game:
It’s a tough, hard game for us because we felt like we had the game, even though Jacksonville is a good team. Things just didn’t go our way today and they made some plays and we didn’t make enough plays.


The Mukasey snag

Powerline and Captain's Quarters each take a stab at unraveling the objections against Michael Mukasey's nomination for Attorney General.

Mukasey has refused to opine about waterboarding on the ground that he doesn't know what's involved in the technique. But this will not remain a tenable basis for not answering, since it's not difficult to find out what waterboarding entails.

Mukasey should testify that waterboarding is legal in exigent circumstances. Alternatively, he should find another basis for refusing to answer the question.
(Power Line)

Captain Ed's take reminds me of my commentary from a week ago (though certainly not in a plagiaristic kind of way!).
And here is the core of the silliness in this standoff. Here we have Congress, as represented by the Judiciary Committee, demanding that an AG candidate declare a specific act illegal. They have it completely backwards. Congress has the responsibility to pass laws and make the determination of legality and illegality -- and the AG has the responsibility to enforce those laws.
(Captain's Quarters)
Contrast these opinions with that of Robyn Blumner (from her editorial last week):

On the issue of torture, Mukasey's first dance was with the committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont. Mukasey condemned torture because that "is not what this country is about," but when asked about particular interrogation practices such as waterboarding, Mukasey refused to call those methods illegal. On hearing Day Two, Mukasey told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., "If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional."

Notice the big "if."

This is essentially the same tactic used by the president in defending against torture allegations. Bush insists we don't torture, because the pain and suffering we inflict on our prisoners has been defined in the Unabridged Bush Presidency Dictionary as something other than torture. (A little dunk in water, as the vice president might say.) If Mukasey buys into this semantical legerdemain, as he seems to, then he's not worthy of the job.

(St. Petersburg Times)

Blumner takes for granted that Mukasey should regard water boarding as illegal even if there is no law against it.

It is absurd for Mukasey to rule water boarding illegal on his own authority, particularly because (as Ed Morrissey reminded us) the technique is used by the U.S. government on our own soldiers as part of their training.


Friday, October 26, 2007

FEMA apologizes for bogus press conference

To borrow a line from Harry Potter ... "Riddikulus!"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The main U.S. disaster-response agency apologized on Friday for having its employees pose as reporters in a news briefing on California's wildfires that no journalists attended.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, still struggling to restore its image after the bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing.


I suppose that FEMA employees posed questions at the "press conference" that they supposed journalists might ask if journalists had been present. It's a reasonable way to do things if accompanied by full disclosure before any sort of misunderstanding takes place. Just announce that the press conference was hastily planned, and let the speaker provide both the the question and the answer. Avoid entirely the charade of having employees provide the look of a normal press conference.

Regardless of the administration in charge, this was a boneheaded caper.

The apology was a good idea, on the other hand.


TNR breaks the suspense, comments on Beauchamp

Since our last statement on “Shock Troops,” a Diarist by Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp that we published in our July 23 issue, we have continued our investigation into the article’s veracity. On Wednesday, for a brief period, The Drudge Report posted several documents from the Army’s own investigation into Beauchamp’s claims. Among those documents was a transcript of a phone conversation that TNR Editor Franklin Foer and TNR Executive Editor J. Peter Scoblic had with Beauchamp on September 6—the first time the Army had granted TNR permission to speak with Beauchamp since it cut off outside contact with him on July 26. During this conversation, Beauchamp refused to discuss his article at all: “I’m not going to talk to anyone about anything,” he said. In light of that phone call, some have asked why The New Republic has not retracted “Shock Troops.”
(The Plank at The New Republic)
That, and why TNR said nothing about the conversation.

The explanation goes on to say that TNR just wanted to get out the truth. Apparently not the truth that Beauchamp was free to talk to the press but chose not to talk to the press, however. The update admits that Beauchamp's words in the phone converation "raised serious doubts" but not enough for TNR to tell anybody about it.
The next day, via his wife, we learned that Beauchamp did want to stand by his stories and wanted to communicate with us again. Two-and-a-half weeks later, Beauchamp telephoned Foer at home and, in an unmonitored conversation, told him that he continued to stand by every aspect of his story, except for the one inaccuracy he had previously admitted. He also told Foer that in the September 6 call he had spoken under duress, with the implicit threat that he would lose all the freedoms and privileges that his commanding officer had recently restored if he discussed the story with us.
So how's that investigation going?

"I'm saying that I'd rather you not to talk to the Washington Post, Newsweek or whoever else until we put our final judgment on your piece."
(leaked document)


Dems making reasonable case for emotional appeals

A post over at Captain's Quarters served as a fresh reminder of a Robyn Blumner column that I treated weeks ago. Blumner was excited about the prospect seeing Democrats engage in hardball campaigning that engages the emotions instead of the intellectual appeals that apparently explain the left's past difficulties in achieving its fair share of elected representation (not to rule out the Diebold conspiracy!). Blumner (I'm not kidding!) rued the fact that Democrats stick with reasonable arguments.

Captain Ed made pretty much the same points that I made, though using a new set of examples.
Have you wondered why the Democrats seem incapable of stopping the George Bush agenda, even after taking control of both chambers of Congress? Could it be the fact that they won their majority by electing more conservative Democrats to replace some center-right Republicans? Perhaps because their agenda doesn't have the allure that Democrats thought? Or perhaps their leadership has just proven itself incompetent?

According to one staffer on the Hill, none of those present the biggest problem for Democrats. They just don't tickle the amygdalae:

(Captain's Quarters)

Rather than just tell you that Cap'n Ed offers a nice set of damning counterexamples, I'll offer a taste:

For a good amygdalae tickle, one can't get any better than Pete Stark during the S-CHIP debate, when he accused Bush of sending troops to Iraq so he could enjoy having their heads blown off.
And just in case you missed Stark's stark-raving limelight moment:

The short version got taken down, but the relevant portion kicks off this longer version.


MRAP I, MRAP II and the recent orders

The MRAP program has been criticized because of the lack of a common design, which presents a wartime logistical challenge, its inability to withstand EFP attacks and the relatively few number of units that have been delivered to Iraq and Afghanistan, despite large orders. This selection of the three winners for MRAP I is distinct from the ongoing MRAP II competition, in which more than six different MRAP makers submitted either proposals, vehicles or both to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., by the Oct. 1 deadline.

In the MRAP II competition, DoD asked industry to improve upon MRAP I survivability. MRAP II vehicles are required to defend against deadly explosively formed penetrator (EFP) weapons attacking U.S. forces in Iraq. MRAP II contracts are expected to be awarded in the coming months.


This story helps further confirm that I jumped the gun in seeing the recent orders as an outcome of the MRAP II competition.

On the other hand, given concerns about "lack of common design," a manufacturer producing large numbers of vehicles for MRAP I would have to be considered a favorite in MRAP II. Ordering 4,000 Golan vehicles under MRAP II, for example, does nothing but perpetuate the logistical difficulties of servicing incompatible vehicle designs in the theater.

Companies like PVI and Ceradyne will likely need to produce a substantially better product in order to turn into a big winner in the MRAP II competition.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sadrist leaders call for disarmament

The ordinarily militant Sadrist group has called on all of its members to disarm--to not even use weapons in self-defense. This goes beyond the call Moqtada al Sadr made for his group to observe a 6-month ceasefire.

Baghdad, Oct 25, (VOI) - The Sadr bloc's political board on Thursday urged its followers to abandon all arms throughout Iraq.

"We issued strict instructions to al-Mahdi army to abandon all armed forces throughout Iraq and to not deal with weapons or use them under any condition, even under the pretext of self defense," the political board said in a statement received by the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr decided on August 31 to freeze his Mahdi Army militias for six months, labeling the step as a "chance" for all militias in Iraq to follow suit.
"We call on our brothers in al-Mahdi army to commit to our leadership's instructions," the statement added.
The statement also said that the Sadrists announced they are resolved to leaving no stone unturned to stop Iraqi bloodshed.
They also urged the Iraqi officials to honor their commitments regarding ending the Iraqis' suffering and illegal arresting.

(Aswat Aliraq)

The cynic might say that al-Sadr wants his group to lay low until the heat is off, then move to take control. And the cynic might be right. However, unless the Sadrists have very thoroughly infiltrated the Iraqi armed forces, that strategy is not likely to succeed. The more stability Iraq experiences, the more confidence will grow in the existing national government. The Iraqi people have had their experience with extremists, and have found it lacking.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Puppet government in action

Baghdad, Oct 24, (VOI) - The Iraqi government decided to annul the immunity awarded to foreign security firms working in Iraq on the grounds of the Nosoor square incident where U.S. Blackwater security guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

"The cabinet decided on Tuesday's session to annul the immunity given to the foreign security firms working in Iraq," a statement issued by the Iraqi government spokesman Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh said on Wednesday.
The statement added "a new draft resolution to that effect will be submitted to the cabinet’s next session."
Last month, personnel from the private American security company killed 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded 12 more in al-Nosoor square, western Baghdad.

(Aswat Aliraq)

Inconvenient for the United States? Sure. But there's an upside.

It's difficult to reasonably assert that the Iraqi government is a mere puppet of the United States when it takes action that makes things more difficult for the United States.

Please pardon the sarcasm in the post headline.

Know your MRAPs

Found a nifty article describing each of the MRAPs, though a few of the descriptions are skimpy.

Here's a taste:
MRAP is an unusual program that involves rolling purchases of a wide range of vehicle types, all meeting the same basic mobility and protection requirements.

The requirements do not specify how a vehicle should meet them, so manufacturers take different approaches, with some embracing a monocoque style that combines the hull and chassis in a single piece, and others bolting an armored hull to a separate chassis, perhaps with a "belly plate" to protect the drive train. All hull designs are V-shaped, though some are flatter than others to maximize interior space.


Note above that the story says all MRAP hulls feature a V-shaped design, contradicting a report I posted weeks ago about the MaxxPro vehicle. Based on the comments I quoted back then, I don't necessarily buy this part of the story. I wouldn't be surprised if the issue boiled down to semantics in the end.


The obligatory Scott Beauchamp update (Updated)

No new observations from me at present; just noting that the Drudge Report claims to have documents from the Army's investigation into the events described by Scott Thomas Beauchamp in his "Baghdad Diarist" series for The New Republic.

I'll be more interested when copies of the documents are posted at the Smoking Gun or the like.

Update: Drudge has posted supposedly leaked documents detailing phone conversations between Scott Beauchamp and TNR folks (including Franklin Foer).

If this stuff is legit, then it's curtains for TNR.
clipped from
blog it

As bad as I could have imagined, from the look of it.

Beauchamp, in my opinion, redeems himself somewhat with the attitude of looking out for those around him (I assume he means his Army buds) and making that his overriding focus. Maybe his service in the Army will change his life positively in ways he did not expect.


Winnowing the field of MRAP producers

The U.S. military has reached the point where it can begin to move closer to its customary methods of equipment acquisition. The need to get as many MRAPs as possible to the theater of war in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in an unusually high number of companies producing vehicles for the armed services. The MRAP II evaluations (apparently) helped the military narrow the field to three manufacturers.
While the Pentagon has yet to officially announce its decision, only three vendors will receive follow-on orders expected by early December 2007. According to Pentagon officials, the three vendors that already received the current orders will continue to get future business as they could sustain 1,200 vehicles per month. These vendors include International Military & Government (IMG) company and Force protection International (FPI) will both become exclusive providers for Category I (4x4) vehicles, while FPI and BAE Systems will continue to deliver the heavier Category II (mostly 6x6) vehicles. BAE Systems' Category II (RG-33) vehicles were recently selected through a mini MRAP competition as the preferred design for 400 ambulance variants which the department is now purchasing. Sofar the Pentagon accelerated orders of Category I vehicles but since these vehicles will be more difficult to receive armor upgrades, the current preference is leaning toward heavier Category II platforms.
(Defense Update)
The story's chock full of information, so stopping by Defense Update to read the whole of it is recommended.

The news is bad, of course, for Ceradyne and PVI.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Death toll in Iraq continues to drop

"I've never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we've made in Iraq. The only people who are going to win this counterinsurgency project are the people of Iraq. We've said that all along. And now they're coming forward in masses," Lynch said in a recent interview at a U.S. base deep in hostile territory south of Baghdad. Outgoing artillery thundered as he spoke.

Lynch, who commands the 3rd Infantry Division and once served as the military spokesman in Baghdad, is a tireless cheerleader of the American effort in Iraq. But the death toll over the past two months appears to reinforce his optimism. The question, of course: Will it last?


Why shouldn't it, other than the fact that the U.S. cannot possibly succeed in Iraq?

The American force will pursue a new strategy of counter-insurgency by placing regional "police stations" and "outposts" where platoons of American soldiers will be assigned to provide security for some of the most volatile areas of the capital. Unfortunately for President Bush, the still-confident neo-conservatives and, more importantly, the United States military and the Iraqi people, this new attempt to secure the capital is also guaranteed to fail (and to fail badly).

(The Davidsonian)

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said yesterday that the Bush administration's "surge" strategy in Iraq is doomed to fail and criticized Gen. David H. Petraeus for offering what he called an overly optimistic assessment of the situation on the ground.
(Washington Post)
The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday.

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.


Not accomplishing anything.

It might not be too late to cut off funding, Sen. Reid. You can still make your prediction come true.


Iraq vet Pete Hegseth on Gen. Sanchez and the surge

Peter Hegseth points out that Gen. Sanchez portrayal of the Iraq War might have been accurate two years ago, but the picture on the ground has changed.
A people drowning in sectarian violence and warped by perpetual vengeance aren't going to immediately engage in political reconciliation. Security improvements must first dampen the violence, lower tensions and restore humanity. This is exactly what Petraeus has done, and we have finally begun providing the tangible security improvements necessary for lasting political solutions at the local and national levels.

Although many hope to convince America otherwise, the Iraq war has fundamentally changed in '07. It's not a civil war anymore. It's the people of Iraq vs. al Qaeda and Iranian proxies, with the U.S.-led Coalition helping the Iraqi people swing their sword of sovereignty.

(New York Post)

That's Hegseth's conclusion. Click the link to see how he got there.

Hat tip to Powerline.


Rear view of Navistar MaxxPro

Well, I found it interesting, since it's an angle I haven't seen before.


Tension building between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan (Updated)

Turkey has formally decided to OK pursuing the PKK into northern Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan responded by imploring the Iraqi national government to supply military cover. The government said that it cannot spare the resources--something to do with their commitment to the multinational coalition force and its effort to provide security against an insurgency.

Turkey made its decision close on the heels of a move in the United States congress to recognize the event as a genocide.

There's little question that a genocide took place in Turkey near the start of the 20th century, but it was different government in power and the timing of this move is nothing short of stupidity. Why is it stupid? Because it strains relations between the U.S. and Turkey at a critical time.

I'm sorry to say that the stupidity yet again was not limited to the Democratic side of the aisle.
Voting in support of the measure were Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Howard Berman (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Jim Costa (D-CA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), William Delahunt (D-MA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (D-SM*), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Gene Green (D-TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ron Klein (D-FL), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Donald Manzullo (R-IL), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Edward Royce (R-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Diane Watson (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and David Wu (D-OR),
(NewsBlaze) bold emphasis added
The above represents the results of a House Foreign Affairs Committee vote.

Bilirakis comes from a district with a large number of Armenians, so his vote seems to have something to do with a desire to remain in office. Don't give the Democrats a pass just because they're not in bold, but note that the measure doesn't receive committee approval without the Republican support (the vote was 27 to 21).

The resolution has hit some bumps and may not be passed, but damage has already been done.

Captain's Quarters has an appropriate update of the news as well as trenchant analysis.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Just one of those games: Bucs fall to Lions 23-16

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated much of the game against the Detroit Lions--unfortunately they dominated in the category of key miscues, losing two fumbles (including one inside the Detroit 5 yard line), suffering a blocked punt, and missing a medium-range field goal.

And beyond that, the game featured some of the very worst officiating I've seen all year. The officials blew a review call, ruling an incomplete pass when Jeff Garcia threw the ball away from the line of scrimmage. They allowed Detroit two free late hits, one from behind on Michael Clayton (who left the game with an injury on the play) and one out of bounds on B. J. Askew. The officials allowed Tampa Bay to go offsides on two kickoffs (in my opinion), and allowed Detroit to line up in the neutral zone on a number of occasions.

This is my least favorite type of game, because there's no way to really tell which team would win if the officials weren't busy screwing things up the whole time.

Bottom line: The Bucs made the types of mistakes you can't make playing on the road, and they'll reap the consequences.

Of note, Jeff Garcia made one of the few bad judgments he's made along the course of the year, throwing the ball away on a 2 point conversion. The absolute worst thing that can happen is one point for the other team on an interception returned the other way. If anybody is remotely open you give the guy a shot at making the play.

Props to the Bucs for making it close at the end, and props to the Lions for their key drive after recovering the fumble deep in their own end. That was a key to their victory on top of Buccaneers mistakes.


Louisiana elects Republican governor

Indian-American, Bobby Jindal, created history on Saturday as he was elected as Governor of the Southern US State of Louisiana, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina some two years ago.

Election of Jindal, 36, as the Governor of Louisiana, immediately brought jubilation among the Indian-Americans in the US, who viewed this as emergence of a new era for the community in terms of their political empowerment. He is a Republican - the party of President George W Bush.
Hopefully Jindal can help Louisiana break from its tradition of corruption--something that state needs desperately not only to stay on a par with the rest of the nation but to rebuild New Orleans as a strong city.

No guarantees just because he's Republican, of course.


Voice of caution regarding military expenditures

The same amount of money expected to be spent on MRAPs could have bought 10 Virginia-class submarines, three Ford-class aircraft carriers, half of the planned Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program or even 100 C-17 airlifters, he noted.

While there is broad agreement that the Army and Marine Corps fielded too few MRAPs earlier in the war, the risk now is that the Pentagon may produce far too many, Krepinevich and Wood concluded.

(Aviation Week)

There's the rub. The focus on MRAP procurement saddles the military with a large number of heavy vehicles with limited tactical utility. The Bull MRAP seemed to typify the imbalance of the program, as the version submitted for MRAP II appeared to sacrifice agility and speed in favor of maximized force protection. Lessons learned in Iraq and through the MRAP development process should produce good results from the JLTV development program.

Particularly in light of the recent dramatic signs of success in Iraq, we should look very carefully at limiting expenditures for vehicles that may not see much use in the future version of our armed services.

I don't pretend to know where the line should be drawn, but I'm at least pretty sure there's a line there somewhere.


Pondering the mysterious

I've been visiting the blog "Kickin' the Darkness" for the commentary, and I was freshly struck by a little blurb hosts Dan and Marc have stuck up in the right hand corner.

Support the Troops!

Bring them back from Iraq.
Bring them home to their families.
Heroes lost: 3818

Self-evidently, the blurb recommends supporting the troops by bringing them back from the theater of conflict. If any number of the troops believe in the mission that they are there to accomplish, however, then in what sense are they supported by bringing them home?

Let's grant that those who wish to return home regardless of the mission would be supported by the requirement that they be brought home. What of the rest, however?

It seems that this type of support is somewhat comparable to the support of a cheerleading squad at a football game where their team is getting trounced. With the good of the players in mind, they just want to get the game over with to avoid possible injury.

Take a knee! Take a knee!
When time runs out then we can flee!

Now, this type of observation has been made by many conservatives, so I wouldn't even bother posting about it except for the particular wording used at KtD. The war dead are "heroes."

What makes them heroes to those who want to abruptly terminate the war effort regardless of the outcome? Perhaps some in opposition to the Iraq war could give a coherent answer, but I suspect that for many (most?) of them, the troops are better termed dupes, pawns or suckers.

Again, this is not particularly original--it just struck a bit closer to home because the setting at KtD feels a bit more like community than national debate.

The impression I get from the blurb is that it patronizes our military. Our soldiers don't know what they're doing. They're irresponsible and in over their heads, so we have to save them from themselves for their own good. And that is "support."

Lockheed Martin JLTV video

Lockheed Martin's JLTV really does look like a Humvee on steroids, a term lately employed to describe the Cougar MRAP.

Comparing this video to one of the Force Protection Cheetah, the latter looks faster and more maneuverable. I'm sure the armed forces have more concerns other than those, but speed is certainly one of the key factors to take into consideration when contemplating a replacement for the Humvee.

I'm not that impressed by the soundtrack music they chose, either. But at least you can't complain that the driver is sitting over the wheel well.


How long do we have to wait for Sean Penn's report on Venezuela?

It's been a few weeks since Sean Penn took his journalist's tour of Venezuela. So how long before he writes something about it?

It will be interesting to see if Penn ends up addressing President/dictator Hugo Chavez's decision to crack down on vices such as smoking and drinking--vices that I believe that Penn favors as features of his personal life. In fact, I'm pretty sure I remember something about Penn seeking out a watering hole in Venezuela during his visit.

I can't remember where I read the watering hole bit, but this YouTube video touches on Venezuela as well as Penn's affinity for adult beverages:


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sweep nabs suspected Shiite fighters in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: U.S. and Iraqi forces, backed by Polish army helicopters, swept through Shiite militia strongholds south of Baghdad on Saturday, rounding up dozens of militants and killing two.

Iraqi police said 30 suspected fighters linked to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army were grabbed in a pre-dawn house-to-house search by U.S. and Iraqi raiders in two eastern neighborhoods in Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad.
(The News)
If these suspected militants were in Pakistan we might expect The News to call them "miscreants."

It's just one of those odd things about this Pakistani newspaper.

Michael Ledeen is mentioning the v-word with respect to Iraq. That's got to set Harry Reid's teeth on edge.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Is water boarding torture?

It seems to me that "water boarding" has turned into a demagogue's issue lately. The issue came up during Michael Mukasey's confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate the other day. Democrats (and some Republicans) seem to use the water boarding issue as a political baseball bat.

In that exchange, Mukasey was asked to make a determination on the constitutionality of water boarding.

But how is he supposed to make that determination? If he uses an originalist understanding of the Constitution then on what grounds is he supposed to apply the law to war foes? Even if we ignore the fact that terrorists are not usually citizens of the United States, was water boarding "cruel and unusual" to the framers? It seems doubtful. And if we adopt the "evolving standards of decency" standard, which evolved standards should we adopt?

It seems to me that the entire "evolving standards" rationale is bankrupt. It ends up as rationalization for the judge's personal view. Think about it. Suppose that "Kill the Jihadists" becomes a ultra-popular video game. Everyone plays it, from teen boys to Grandma and even the babysitter. People, by and large, come to accept using a potato peeler to slowly extract information from radical Jihadist prisoners. In other words, the standard of decency has evolved. But you would never hear the "evolving standards" argument used to justify using the technique, would you?

The key to the "evolving standards" argument is its presumption that moral decency evolves in one direction, which (scientifically speaking) is a quaint understanding of evolution (evolution directed toward a goal). Ultimately, the argument boils down to the judge's implicit claim that he or she knows better in this case.

And therein lies the dilemma. Either Mukasey is just supposed to "know better" or else the constitution offers no clear condemnation of water boarding.

Casting the issue on the waters of international law (or treaties) doesn't do any more to resolve the situation. John Yoo quite accurately noted that use of the word "extreme" as a modifier in its descriptions of mistreatment clearly implies some degree of non-extreme mistreatment that will not qualify as torture.

We could use an honest debate about water boarding, one that doesn't rely on emotional appeals such as the fallacy of appeal to outrage. If that debate ever takes place, then let Congress produce legislation that addresses the issue specifically. Spare me the demagoguery.


Breakdown of new MRAP order

As reported here, the armed services have ordered another 2,400 MRAPs, with Navistar International filling plurality of the order with 1,000 MaxxPro vehicles.
Navistar International Corp. on Thursday received a $509-million order for an additional 1,000 armored trucks for U.S. soldiers Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest order from the Marine Corps raised Navistar’s total orders for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks to 2,971 since May.
(Chicago Business)
Force Protection received an order for 800 vehicles. I almost reported the wrong number because of this story:
Force Protection Industries (FRPT) has been awarded a $376M contract for 553 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles according to the Department of Defense website
A closer read of the contract announcement revealed that Force Protection received orders for 800 vehicles of which 553 were Cat. I and the remainder were Cat II.

BAE Systems collected the 600 remaining vehicle orders, including 112 Cat. II "ambulance variant" models and 89 "special operations command variants."

Though I earlier reported these orders as an outcome of MRAP II evaluation, that very well may not be the case. The timing, at least, was coincidental.


NYT opinions just as bankrupt via video format (Updated)

Another ironic hat-tip to hapless Duane, who pointed me to a worthless video op-ed in the New York Times produced by Steve Connors and Molly Bingham.

Isn't that something?

Let's assess the key claims in the op-ed.
On October 12th, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, made news when he joined the ranks of American politicians and pundits who once supported the war in Iraq but who now say the Bush Administration's incompetence turned the venture into a failure.
If Connors and Bingham had bothered to check, they would see that Sanchez supports the war in Iraq but faults pretty much the entire country for its conduct of the war effort. As with most in the mainstream media, Connors and Bingham stayed mum regarding Sanchez's condemnation of the media's role in the war.

Gen. Sanchez:


Connors and Bingham (paraphrased): Hang bipartisan cooperation! It's Bush's fault! Game over, man! Let's get out of there now!

Is it ethical to co-opt Sanchez like that? Taking words that plainly mean one thing and presenting them as though they put Sanchez in your corner? To wit: Sanchez puts the blame on the entire government and on the press. The press reports Sanchez putting the blame on Bush. Convenient, isn't it?

Connors and Bingham continue by evaluating Sanchez's claims.
There are limits to this contention (Bush incompetence leading to failure--ed.)

The power of the insurgency doomed the occupation from the start.
Quite an optimistic duo, aren't they?
This conclusion is based on recent Iraqi public opinion surveys and the World Public Opinion poll--and interviews we conducted with Iraqis for Meeting Resistance.
If you're wondering how recent public opinion surveys can possibly indicate how the occupation was doomed "from the start" then join the club.
The insurgency is mainly composed of ordinary Iraqis, not Qaeda operatives or former regime members.
Source of that datum unknown, but hardly relevant anyway so long as they're getting their butts kicked.
Not only do most Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq--they also approve killing them.

92% of Sunnis, 62% of Shiites, and 15% of Kurds approve of attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces.
Again, no source provided for the poll data--but certainly the above figures are less favorable than these (pages 29, 30) from this past summer via ABC/BBC.

Let's just say I'm very suspicious of the term "approve" as used by Connors and Bingham.
From April 2004 through May 2007 an average of 74% of significant attacks in Iraq were aimed at the U.S.--led coalition forces.

16% of attacks were directed at Iraqi forces and 10% at civilian targets.
And here the key term is obviously "significant attacks."
Many incidents “that most Americans would regard as terrorist attacks” were not reported because they didn’t meet “the strict State Department definitions of an international” event, including insurgent attacks resulting in only Iraqi fatalities.
(The Iraq Quagmire)
See the problem? If only Connors and Bingham had specifically identified the source of their data ...
78% of Iraqis believe the U.S. military is provoking more conflict than it is preventing.
Again no source offered, and the number figure is worse than the one from the ABC/BBC poll.
Iraqis told us that holding elections and meeting "benchmarks" would make no difference.
There's nothing quite like anecdotal evidence using no identifiable sources, is there?
71% of Iraqis demand a withdrawal of U.S. forces within 1 year.

65% think it is unlikely that an American departure will lead to a broader civil war
A majority of Iraqis disagree with the separation of people along sectarian lines in their country.
Still no source from the bumbling filmmakers, but this is one I've been pointing out for some time. It's an encouraging sign that the Iraqis will stick with a relatively strong national government, which is exactly the best outcome for the United States in this instance. Though of course I cited a reputable poll when I referred to the data.

Their point seems to be that there is no civil war in Iraq at all. It's just the mostly united Iraqis against the imperialistic United States. That must explain the suicide bombers who go to schools and markets to blow up their countrymen.
100% of those polled disapprove of attacks on Iraqi civilians.
Yet the video op-ed features a guy justifying attacks on interpreters and presumably others who "cooperate" with the Americans. Perhaps he doesn't count. Or maybe if an Iraqi cooperates with Americans it revokes his civilian status?
By listening to the people of Iraq, you can easily discern the root cause of the conflict: Occupation.
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Connors and Bingham are stupid. Even Duane will try to explain falling civilian casualties in terms of successful ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods. But they're only doing the ethnic cleansing because of the presence of American troops?

Sorry, but their analysis is far too simplistic to be taken seriously. It gives every evidence of cherry-picked numbers chosen to support the editorialist's agenda while ignoring any data that would upset the apple cart.

Their op-ed is ethically reprehensible, even if by some miracle they obtained their poll data through a reputable source.

Judith Weiss at Kesher Talk wrote a review of the Connors and Bingham op-ed. Here's a representative sample:
In addition to inserting tendentious quotes from unidentified 2007 polls into footage from 2004, these PR flacks for terrorists take the opportunity to fit in this week's wide misquoting of General Sanchez, demonstrating that - like the NYTimes - they didn't bother to read what Sanchez actually said.
(read the whole thing)

Hat tip to the Belmont Club for leading to the update.


South Florida Bulls lose at Rutgers

I don't normally post about college football, but the hometown team was ranked No. 2 in the BCS rankings when it began play a few hours ago.

Rutgers played a solid game against the Bulls, using a very effective rushing attack to control the game. Big plays ruled the day, particularly on special teams, and one play in particular looms large in retrospect.

Late in the second quarter, the Bulls blocked a field goal attempt. Two Bulls players attempted to pick up the ball before a third South Florida player got control of it and carried it into the end zone. It looked to me at the time as though the first two players fumbled forward intentionally, which may be against the rules. On the field, however, the play was ruled a touchdown.

Now, in college football, the replay umpire can cut in at pretty much any time to review a call. The umpires reviewed it, and ruled that a USF player illegally batted the ball. But here's the thing: To my eye, at least, the video replay did not support the reversal of the call.

At normal speed, as I mentioned above, it really looked like the USF players were fumbling and bumbling deliberately toward the end zone. Once the play was slowed down, however, the first player to try to pick up the ball never gains control of it and seems to be trying to grab the ball with outstretched hands (fingers splayed) rather than batting it downfield. The second player had looked particularly guilty at normal speed. The replay, however, showed that he had the ball tucked under his left arm when a Rutgers player knocked the football loose (absolutely no evidence of any intent to fumble). The USF player brings in his other arm to try to collect the loose ball and ends up knocking it away.

It's the sort of thing that happens often with a fumble. Players think they'll grab the football and end up knocking it away. It happens when there is no good reason to bat the ball away.

I just don't see how the officials can justify overturning a call like that based on the video evidence. I could understand how one could use the video evidence to buttress a decision made based on the real-time perception of the play, however. I think it was a bad call.

As for the game, however, Rutgers played well enough to earn the win, and I offer my congratulations.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

More stupidity from Democrats (I shouldn't be surprised)

The Democrat-controlled Congress is hands-down worse than I ever thought it would be. Very fortunately, part of its ineptitude includes an inability to meet its own legislative goals.

Fresh from their absolutely idiotic insistence of giving official recognition to the Armenian genocide from early last century (straining U.S. relations with Turkey at a critical juncture), Democrats continued to parade their stupidity via their questioning of Michael Mukasey.

Under sharp questioning about the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program, Mukasey said there may be occasions when the president's wartime powers would supersede legal requirements to obtain a warrant to conduct wiretaps.

In such a case, Mukasey said, "the president is not putting somebody above the law; the president is putting somebody within the law. . . . The president doesn't stand above the law. But the law emphatically includes the Constitution."

Judge Mukasey tried to give the Senate committee a lesson in constitutional law--the branches of government are equal, and therefore Congress can't take away the President's powers--but it was pearls before swine. Dim bulb Patrick Leahy didn't get the point:

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was "troubled by your answer. I see a loophole big enough to drive a truck through."

There you have it! The Constitution: it's a loophole!

(Powerline)(embedded material from the Washington Post)

Democratic leaders have been in full-on meltdown mode ever since their key strategic victory (losing in Iraq) began to slip away.


Early winners in MRAP II (Updated/corrected)

Pentagon officials have awarded three companies with contracts to build Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, a Defense Department official said on Thursday.

The firms are Navistar International, BAE Systems and Force Protection, chosen from a field of at least five vendors, industry sources said.

(Marine Times)

For those keeping track at home, these prompt orders reflect success fom the MaxxPro, RG-30-something and probably the Cougar from Force Protection.

It is worth noting that the lighter MRAP from Armor Holdings, the Caiman, did not compete for MRAP II, no doubt because of its purchase this past summer by BAE systems.

The early results suggest that Mr. Zippy's analysis (the Zipster may be connected directly to Force Protection, the maker of the Cougar) was essentially accurate.

The DOD Web site makes clear that the new round of orders represents an expansion on existing contracts. That places doubt on my conclusion that these recent orders are associated with the MRAP II program. It seems significant that Navistar will fill 1,000 of the 2,400 vehicle order.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The News: U.S. commanders in Iraq recommend starting drawdown

This move surprises me slightly. I just hope that this is not taking place too early, even though the sharp decline in civilian casualties and effective offensive against AQI indicates that it may be time.
WASHINGTON: Commanders in Iraq have decided to drawdown U.S. forces in volatile Diyala province, marking a turning point in the U.S. military mission.

Reflecting President Bush's bid to begin reducing the American military force and shift to functions like training and advising Iraqi security forces, the number of US Army ground combat brigades in Iraq will fall from 20 to 19.
(The News)
If the timing is right, then I'm overjoyed for our troops. The mission gets done and our soldiers get some much-needed and well-deserved rest--sooner than I hoped.

Hopefully we'll continue to see the Iraqi security forces operate more and more effectively to continue to enable more draw-downs.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Olbermann on General Sanchez

This is hilarious.

Is Olbermann a news guy? Of course not. He's the Bill O'Reilly of MSNBC.

General Sanchez spent fully 1/2 of his speech excoriating the news media, and Olbermann is one of many in the media who decided that you do not need to know anything about what Sanchez had to say about them.

Gov. Richardson, who was one of the only Democratic presidential candidates for who I had some respect, made an utter fool of himself by lifting certain segments of Sanchez's statement. Where Sanchez said that the U.S. could not afford to pull out quickly from Iraq, Richardson presented that as precisely his plan--and Olbermann apparently didn't even think to point out the discrepancy.

Olbermann and Richardson both appear to exhibit the type of incompetence that Sanchez said would result in dismissal in his line of work.

I wonder if any news media figure will address the first half of Sanchez' speech? I wonder how many of them even know about it, given the reporting their industry produced in covering the speech?

Also see the comments Ed Morrissey elicited from Sen. John McCain on this issue. McCain says he talked to Gen. Sanchez in Iraq during the war and Sanchez supported the administration's strategy.


Blumner review: torture and stuff

I promised brief commentary on Robyn Blumner's columns. Time doesn't permit detailed commentary every week, but I want to have get at least something said around the time her column is published lest I fall too far behind.

I can always update later.

This week, the SPT Pinata was writing about torture. This time the column deals with psychiatric professionals participating in torture.

The following line was the first one to grab me:
Doctors take a Hippocratic oath to do no deliberate harm, so it is particularly chilling when a doctor is an agent of suffering, even if he's doing so in the service of perceived national interests.
(St. Petersburg Times)
Particularly chilling, eh? Something tells me she's not particularly chilled when a doctor euthanizes a fetus via a late-term "partial birth" abortion--but of course it's different when it's just a fetus, I suppose. Anyway, the right to choose is probably in the national interest.

The gist of the column is Blumner's praise of the APA for courageously condemning torture.

Here's a piece of the APA resolution.

WHEREAS in 2006, the American Psychological Association defined torture in accordance with Article l of the United Nations Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

[T]he term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted upon a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official [e.g., governmental, religious, political, organizational] capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to lawful sanctions [in accordance with both domestic and international law];

WHEREAS in 2006, the American Psychological Association defined the term "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" to mean treatment or punishment by a psychologist that, in accordance with the McCain Amendment, is of a kind that would be "prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984." Specifically, United States Reservation I.1 of the Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture stating, "the term 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States."ii

(bold emphasis added)

While the APA supposedly accepts the UN definition that John Yoo exploited in a legal memo solicited by the Bush administration, the organization ends up barring almost everything (read on beyond what I quoted for full confirmation). The APA further offers an absolute condemnation of torture. If only that were confirmation that they condemn situation ethics and moral relativism I'd at least partially applaud the move. Unfortunately, it probably means nothing of the kind. The resolution, on its face, appears incoherent. Small surprise that Blumner applauds it.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bucs top Titans, move to 4-2

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers bounced back from last week's whupping from the Colts to slip past the visiting Tennessee Titans by a score of 13-10.

Quarterback Jeff Garcia was again the key for the Bucs.

Garcia threw for over 200 yards without an interception, and hooked up with receiver Joey Galloway for a 69-yard TD pass to give the Bucs a 10-3 lead in the third quarter.

Titans quarterback Kerry Collins led his team to the tying score late in the fourth quarter in an amazing drive that featured two potential turnovers by the Titans--none of which ended up going Tampa Bay's way (correction: the amazing drive led to no score, and featured three potential turnovers. The touchdown drive had an end zone interception by Ronde Barber overturned via replay).

In one case, Ronde Barber made an apparent interception of Collins in the end zone, only to have the interception nullified on replay. Barber's hand appeared to touch out of bounds before he made a second touch inbounds.

On the other play, Collins was wrapped up by Kevin Carter and threw the ball down behind him--an apparent lateral. Tennessee recovered, but about 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The officials ruled Collins "in the grasp" of the defender, saving the quarterback from a potentially game-altering mistake.

The Bucs responded by driving for the go-ahead field goal, with a drive starting with just over a minute to play. The key play was a third-down reception by Ike Hilliard resulting in a first down at the Tampa Bay 48 yard line. After two more completions the Bucs sent out Matt Bryant for a 33-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner.

I predicted before the game that the Bucs would not win unless they rushed for over 50 yards. I was happy to be wrong. Tennessee stuffed the running game, allowing only 30 yards on the ground.

Garcia's passing was the difference in the game, along with the fact that he ended his sixth start with the customary zero interceptions.

Tight End Alex Smith had his ankle rolled up late in the game and was carted off.

The defense did just enough to win the game. The defensive line racked up three sacks with one coming on a run out of bounds by Vince Young. Young strained his quad on the play and did not return. Rookie defensive end Gaines Adams (correction: Jovan Haye was closest and it doesn't seem that any sack was credited. Adams received credit for a sack earlier when Young ran into Lendale White and fell. Adams touched Young down to get credit for the sack) was credited with his first sack of the season (and his career) on that play.

Rookie safety Tanard Jackson continued his stellar play, making a crushing hit on Lendale White as White attempted to dart through the line. Jackson put a monster hit on the Colts' Dallas Clark last week.

Jovan Haye, a defensive tackle elevated from the practice squad late last season, registered 10 tackles and a sack--impressive numbers for an interior lineman. Haye has 3 sacks for the season to lead the Bucs.

Special Teams:
Tampa Bay's special teams returned to form after a couple of breakdowns last week. The Titans' return game was held in check. Mark Jones was unable to break any long returns, however. Josh Bidwell did a great job punting, averaging 44 yards on six kicks.

The Bucs are in good shape in the NFC South at this stage of the season, since a 7-9 record may well earn the division title this year. The injuries tend to temper the optimism, however.


The News Web site apparently hacked

I get some of my international news from one of Pakistan's dailies, The News International.

The top story this morning was "Benazir ****** by PML"

That was the headline, actually. There was no accompanying story. In the "More updates" section, that same headline was repeated a half dozen times.

A survey of other international news sources revealed no immediate evidence of a figurative truth in the headline.


Philosopher's game,"Battleground God"

While investigating what seems to be an anti-religion site hosted at a .edu Web site, I followed one of the links to TPM Online and played the "Battleground God" game.

I expected the game to be ruled by certain presuppositions, but it wasn't as bad as I thought.

I made it to the final question without raising any flags. Here was the question:

It is justifiable to believe in God if one has a firm, inner conviction that God exists, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of the conviction that God exists.

I reasoned that a revelation of God serves as a justifiable basis for belief in spite of a lack of external evidence ("or the lack of it"), thus I answered in the affirmative.

Apparently the test designers didn't like my way of thinking.

You've just taken a direct hit!

Earlier you said that it is not justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, paying no regard to the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of this conviction, but now you say it's justifiable to believe in God on just these grounds. That's a flagrant contradiction!

I wrote up my own response to the claim.

Despite the claim of a “flagrant contradiction,” the problem here is arguably with the question. In one case we’re talking about “the external world”—but is God part of the “external world”? Is it proper to call an omnipresent God part of the “external world”?

The question, like many others on the test, was ambiguously worded. “External world” has the connotation of referring to the material world, and one would reasonably expect sense-data as a guide to an external material world but not as a guide to a “external” spiritual world that is not “external” in the same sense.

There were a number of other spots where the test forced an answer based on a false dilemma.

It just goes to show that in philosophy and logic, it's all in the presuppositions.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Ceradyne's Bull MRAP: My how you've changed!

The prototype Bull MRAP submitted by Ceradyne/Oshkosh bears only a passing resemblance to the earlier representations (which invariably appeared suspiciously non-photographic to begin with).

If MRAP II requires side door(s) then it must be on the other side.
clipped from

Pakistan engaging al Qaeda in Waziristan

AL-QA'IDA's involvement in the huge surge of fighting in Pakistan's Islamic fundamentalist heartland was revealed last night as reports indicated that more than 50,000 people had been forced to flee their homes after being caught in crossfire.

Islamabad's top military spokesman, Waheed Arshad, said in the past few days of fighting, more than 50 "foreign militants" had been killed -- code for al-Qa'ida terrorists based in an area where Osama bin Laden is believed to be dug in.
(The News)
Having Pakistan near a tipping point might turn out as a good thing if Musharraf can strike effectively against al Qaeda, and perhaps take out Bin Laden.

The story also mentions the deaths of 47 Pakistani troops since Sunday.

We can expect the Democrats to push for a phased redeployment of Pakistani troops to Okinawa if that keeps up.