Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You Can See The Desperation

In the language that they are using.

In defending their attack of Iraq, and the multiple failures that this event represents, the president and his men have resorted to incredibly shrill and dishonest attacks. Yesterday Donald Rumsfeld spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention and participated in the foolish game.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared critics of the Bush administration to those who sought to appease the Nazis before World War II, warning Tuesday that the United States is confronting "a new type of fascism."


He continued: "Can we truly afford to believe that, somehow or some way, vicious extremists could be appeased?"

The question is, who is recommending trying to appease any terror group or leader?

No one in the mainstream is.

What people are saying is, that you are doing it all wrong. Your efforts are making the terrorist stronger, not weaker. You are making us less able to respond to real threats. You are wasting our money and our people on a fools errand.

Rather than address these points, you lie about what those who oppose you are saying. You try to wrap your failed policies in the flag, and claim that those how find your efforts flawed oppose taking any action.

Terrorism is a cancer, and has to be removed. The question is, how do you address it.

Some cancers are aggressive and require a rapid, massive response. Others move more deliberately, and a go slow approach may fit. Some are in areas that require delicate efforts to address it, some have to be removed, no matter the local cost.

Your efforts are like those of a doctor, who has discovered that he has prostate cancer. Some forms of the cancer move slowly, some are much more aggressive. Some are intertwined with some rather important plumbing and require a difficult removal, some are a little off to the side and removal is easier.

Your response to this discovery. You take a sledgehammer to your groin in the effort to destroy the cancer, without consideration of other options, or the harm that your actions may do to other parts of the body. When others point out just how stupid your actions is, your response is to claim that we all want to die of cancer.

Maybe one day you will be smart enough to unerstand that when someone disaproves of your actions, it doesn't always mean that they disapove of your goal.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Is It A Civil War Yet

The current status of the conflict in Iraq is still an interesting point to debate.

Is it a civil war, or just an insurgency? If it is not a civil war, can it grow into one, or is that unlikely? Where is this whole mess headed?

The Prime Minister of Iraq is trying to say on point, and stressing that there is not now now will there ever be a civil war. At the same time, we have another weekend with about one hundred more killed in sectarian violence.

One of the key points those trying to sell the idea that there is no civil war use to defend there position is the lack of standing armies engaged in open combat. While this is a feature of most civil wars, it is not always found in this period of high tech weapons. If the battle is likely to be too lopsided, the side with the ineffective weapons is smart to try to avoid open conflict.

In Iraq, the US force is so powerful no one will come out to confront them. That doesn't mean that the engaged forces will not find a way to make war. They will focus on soft targets, civilian populations and remote attacks. This has been the nature of what we have seen in Iraq for that last 3 years. These are all unconventional means of fighting, but can be very effective.

In Iraq this has resulted in hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, control of whole sections of the nation are now in flux. Major population centers are not under effective control of the nation government, but instead are being run by local anti-government groups. In the past few years the populations were so intermixed that battle lines could not be drawn, but this is changing.

Also changing is the nature of the civil conflict itself. The last 30 hours has seen open combat between militia forces of Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi Army.

In the city of Diwaniyah, a Shia-dominated city 80 miles south of Baghdad, gun battles between Iraqi forces and militiamen of the Mahdi Army loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr left at least 34 people dead and about 70 wounded, Iraqi officials said.

The fighting broke out late last night when Iraqi soldiers conducted raids in three neighbourhoods to flush out the militiamen and seize weapons, Captain Fatik Aied, of the Iraqi army, said. The fighting continued today.

Mohammed Abdul-Muhsen of Diwaniyah general hospital said 34 bodies were brought in - 25 Iraqi soldiers, seven civilians and two militiamen. He said at least 70 people were injured.

This further weakens the argument that there is no civil war, there has now been what appears to be actual combat between two standing forces, a clear sign of what is coming.


A 5 Year Run Has Ended

US commercial aviation had an amazing 5 year period where there had been no major incidents. This ended Sunday morning, when Delta Connection flight 5191 crashed.

when I first heard of the event Sunday morning, my initial thought was pilot error. There have been a couple of notable takeoff accidents related to mechanical failure (Chicago DC-10 as example), but the overwhelming majority of accidents that occur at this stage of flight are going to be pilot error.

Later in the day it became clear that my initial thought was most likely correct. The plane tried to use the very short General aviation runway. From my view, hundreds of miles away, this strip was not a viable option, and was clearly used in error.

In a few weeks the NTSB will start to produce real findings. I suspect these will not be kind to the flight crew. Other factors that will no doubt be cited was the fact that the field in Lexington was repaved within the last few weeks, a dead heading pilot was flying in the jump seas (at least early reports indicate as much), and a tower with a very limited staff on duty.

The flight recorders were quickly collected, and data from those should be coming out soon, and should provide more information to see if the early indicators of what went wrong have any validity.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday's Post Of Interest

Click on over and check them out.

Over at Cosmic Variance, a good review of the confirmation of the existence of Dark matter

A TV special about Darwin promoted by James Kennedy makes it clear that he is both dishonest and stupid, the details are at Dispatches From The Culture Wars.

Bob looks at Israel, Iran and Nuclear Weapons.


Local Talk Radio

I enjoy good talk radio, it can be very informative, educational, moving and even funny. I listen to a number of Air America shows when I am in the car, and even well done right wing radio can be interesting.

On the other hand, bad talk radio is just painful.

Start with an ill informed and unchallenging host, even less informed cohost, a partisan regular guest who is not identified as partisan, then add a scientific issue, and you have a formula for an embarrassing disaster.

Columbia's progressive radio AM 1310(?) has the Andy Thomas show every weekday afternoon. Most days is it nondescript, on a few days it can be downright awful.

Yesterday I tuned in while headed home. They were talking about Plan B. Andy was on the air, as were a couple of his co-host (producers, interns?) and Joshua Gross, the SC head for the Club For Growth (a very right wing group who's right wing stand I have never heard mentioned when he is a guest, he seems to be presented as some non-partisan expert on SC politics).

During the few minutes that I had the show on they were focused on the Plan-B news. It started badly, they confused Plan-B and RU-486. The referred to Plan-B as an abortion pill and the total sum of insightful commentary involved reading from 1st a drug company web site about the pill, then reading from an anti-choice web site.

A few callers were brought on. They just continued to muddy the waters. One listed the possible side effects of RU-486 as side effects of Plan-B, and the host either didn't know enough to correct this, or approved of this misinformation being spread about. The whole segment was a mess that brought far more heat than light to the debate.

And this is how too many complex issues are handled. Fact checking is nonexistent, absurd claims and statements go unchallenged, and salacious speculation seems to be the only fuel for too of many of this 3 hour show's segements.


This Is How Iraq Will End For The US

A couple of days ago the British forces announced that they were going to hand over one of their bases to Iraqi forces. This was being presented by the US as a classic example of Iraq standing up, so our forces could stand down. The impression was that the British had secured the area, the Iraqi army was trained and ready to go, and this was a great success story.

Thursday the handoff took place, and the real story comes out.

The British departure from the base near Amarah was more of a retreat than anything else. The base left them as sitting ducks, and the leadership has decided that becoming a flexable, almost guerilla force, will be a more effective means of patrolling the area.

An Iraqi force was to secure the base, and all the materials that were left behind, but it didn't quite work out that way. The base was attacked, then portions of the Iraqi army joined the insurgents. In the end the base was looted by locals.

The Mahdi Army has declared this a victory, the people of the region are celebrating, the Iraqi army was again proven to be impotent, and a base is lost. This is the result of three years of US training, investment, and losses, and there is little reason to expect it to get any better.

It appers a Republican has seen the light, Rep Christopher Shays (R-Ct), is calling for a time frame for withdrawing


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Anyone Remember The Office of Special Plans?

This outfit was created by Donald Rumsfeld, and headed by Douglas Feith. It's job was to review the intelligence work of the CIA, NSA and other US intelligence outfits, and make it scarier.

It was the driving force in justifying the need for a war to rid Iraq of it's nuclear capacity (that it never had), it's bio-weapons capacity (that it never had) and it's chemical weapons stocks (that had already been destroyed). Most of the over the top and absurd claims that the Bush administration spouted about the need for invading Iraq, originated in this office.

The Office of Special Plans was born because the administration felt that intelligence that they were getting from the experts was not alarmist enough. It appears that some now feel the same way about the intelligence they are getting about Iran.

A congressional sub committee is issuing a report blasting the US intelligence community for it failings in Iran.

A key House committee issued a stinging critique of U S intelligence on Iran yesterday, charging that the CIA and other agencies lack ``the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments" on Tehran's nuclear program, its intentions, or even its ties to terrorism.

The 29-page report, principally written by a Republican staff member on the House Intelligence Committee who holds a hard-line position on Iran, fully backed the White House position that Iran is moving forward with a nuclear weapons program and that it poses a significant danger to the United States.

In other words, we believe it to be so, and since you have not been able to prove that you have failed.

It could be that, yes, the CIA and the rest of the US intelligence forces have failed, that Iran is only weeks away from a nuclear weapon, and that the very first weapon they develop is headed straight to the US.

It could also be that Iran has no pressing nuclear weapon abition, and while they do have a long term goal of being nuclear capable, they are not rushing to that goal. Discovering proof of an agressive nuclear terrorist plan can be very difficult, if that plan doesn't in fact exist.

But, since the CIA has not proven the hypothesis of the gravely terrified and paranoid wing of the republican party, the only option is that they failed.


It's No Longer A Planet

Pluto is now a dwarf planet.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930.

Time to take some white-out to a few dozen books in the family library.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sen. Graham (R-S.C.) Is Unnerved.

Lindsey views the current situation in Iran as a grave threat, on the scale of Nazi Germany in the 30s. This is just silly rhetoric, and it is clear that Sen. Graham is either trying to generate a little spin on international affairs, or is far less intelligent than I thought.

While his comparison is grossly overblown, one aspect of his concern about Iran is valid. Iran is now very well positioned to expand it's power and influence in the region, and is clearly a nation that cares little about our concerns. Not good news for the United States, but it is also not the end of the western world.

While Sen. Graham pontificating about world affairs and expressing his worry and concern, I would like to point out one little thing. Lindsey, It's your fault.

The US-led "war on terror" has bolstered Iran's power and influence in the Middle East, especially over its neighbor and former enemy Iraq, a thinktank said today.

A report published by Chatham House said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had removed Iran's main rival regimes in the region.

Well, not yours alone, but it is the fault of all the Republicans in congress who have refused to perform any oversight on the current administration and have been a rubber stamp for the policies and actions or Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice and the rest of the gang who can't shoot straight.

Now you are concerned, and " see the upcoming weeks and months as a pivotal time in the 21st century ". It is time for a quick reminder here. It is your actions and decisions that have been making the situation in the Middle East worse for us since 2001. We are on the path you selected, you approved of, and you (and the rest of the members of your party) have not shown any leadership, wisdom, or desire to do anything but stay the course.

A course that you are now professing concern over. It is a shame that you were not able to see what many others saw in 2002, and insisted on another path, for now we are reaping what you have sown.

We have expanded Iran's area of influence, we have set this region aflame. There is artillery now being exchanged between the Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey and Iran. Hamas has now been elected into control of the government of Palestine. Hezbollah is now more popular than ever.

Yet our military position is so weakened that we have to call up the inactive reserve to meet current needs. This is the place you have taken us, and your defense is, " I think we undersold how hard the war would be," .

Senator, Why was it undersold, and who undersold it? Why did oil cost go up and not down as promised? Why is a war that we were told would cost no more than 50 billion, now going to cost well over a thousand billion? Why did the intelligence fail, was the intelligence failure intentional? Why are those responsible for this not only not being held accountable, but being rewarded or promoted?

And, why Senator Graham, are you not asking these questions?


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

As I Have Said Before

Commercial air travel in Russia can be far to interesting.

A Russian passenger plane carrying 170 people has crashed in eastern Ukraine. Thirty bodies have been found at the crash site, about 45km (30 miles) north of Donetsk, a Russian official said.

This is the third incident so far this year.


Bush, The Abridged Version

Sure, what we are doing is failing, and based on lies, be I'll be damned if we will change a single thing.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Watching The News This Weekend

Was a surreal experience.

It looks like the US media has given up on the war in Iraq, and isn't all that interested in Afghanistan.

This weekend in Baghdad the Shia celebrated the death of Imam Moussa ibn Jaafar al-Kadhim, a man revered as one of the Shiite saints. The security for this event has been planned for over half a year. Cars were not allowed on city streets for 3 days, the city was locked down, and still 20 were killed and hundreds injured.

For Baghdad this was a calm weekend, but in Iraq there was other violence of note, but the news networks mostly ignored it.

A little further east large scale conflicts are still being fought. More members of the NATO force have been killed and injured, and it is clear that the Taliban are still a factor that can not be ignored, but the networks didn't have much time for Afghanistan either.

When watching CNN or other televised news media, these were not the stories of the weekend.

The clear leader in media focus was the Ramsey case, a ten year old murder. While this is a personal tragedy for the family, it is not now, nor has it ever been a national news story.

The number two story of the weekend has to be Israel. While Israel's violation of the cease fire Saturday night was news worthy, the twittering about the state of the cease fire started long before Israel's Saturday night attack.

The priority of these reports appear completely reversed. The stories that directly involve American troops or nations that are under our control are ignored. In their place they are busy rehashing a family tragedy that is a decade old.

My only guess is that for CNN and the rest of our TV media, the constant downward grind that the wars in Southwest Asia represent are ratings crushers. So they opt to focus the national news on a huge non story. The sad reality is I suspect that a majority of people are more interested in the Ramsey case, and don't even care much about Iraq any more.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Reading

A few post worth your time.

Ed at Dispatches From the Culture Wars has a hilarious update on the Harris for Senate camp.

Who lost the Israel Lebanon war? Badtux The Snarky Penguin tells you the truth.

Tammy at Seeding Spartanburg looks at the superintendent of Education race, and the politics of money and power.


More Troubling Economic News

Housing, consumer confidence, inflation, job creation have all been a little squirrelly lately, now Ford drops a big bomb.

Ford Motor Co. Friday said it will cut fourth-quarter production by 21 percent and also reduce third-quarter production to accelerate its turnaround plan.

The automaker said it would cut North American production in the fourth quarter by 168,000 units and reduce third-quarter production by 20,000 vehicles.


The new production plan will result in downtime this year at assembly plants in St. Thomas, Ontario; Chicago; Wixom, Mich.; Louisville, Ky.; Wayne, Mich.; St. Paul, Minn.; Kansas City, Mo.; Norfolk, Va.; and Dearborn, Mich.; Ford said.

The brave new world of employment is arising in this nation. At one time your job might include health care, pensions, and a living wage, now you get a hand book that ncluded:

Helpful suggestions included fishing in the trash for things they like, taking dates for a walk in the woods, and shopping at thrift stores.

Just another day in Bush's America, where the race to the bottom has become our nations only goal.


Not All Republicans Are Racist

But this week again it is shown that all racist appear to be Republicans.

Everyone should know about Sen. Allen's (R-Va.) slur he tossed at a volunteer of the Webb campaign. What some media outlets have not noticed is the term he used is a word that his mother is most likely to be aware of, and that there is a good chance he learned it from her, and knew exactly what he was saying.

Down in Florida a less well known Republican has decided to share Allen's shame. Tramm Hudson (R-Fl.) is running for Katherine Harris seat, and while telling a story about his service in the armed forces also educated us about the inability of blacks to swim.

The folks at Firedoglake have an excellent (yet slightly rude) look at this topic, and racism within the GOP.


Another Midland Blogger Hits The Big Time

Tim Kelly, of Crack the Bell, has followed the footsteps of Ron Shealy, and has a commentary in The State today.

Only a newspaper columnist could see Joe Lieberman’s selfish decision to seek election this November as an independent as the first blow in a courageous battle to break political gridlock.

Just as the U.S. secretary of State somehow views the carnage in northern Israel and Lebanon as “the birth pangs of a New Middle East,” Brad Warthen and David Brooks see the repudiation of Lieberman by his party as the glorious dawning of a third way in American politics.

Congratulations Tim, but don't you dare follow Ron all the way and close your Blog.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sex Education, SC PIE, And Timken High School

Timken High School is in Ohio. They have a sex education program that is on the cutting edge of Bush administration policy, abstinence only. They also have had 13% of the female student body turn up in a family way.

Funny how that worked out.

They are now looking into a more fact based system for the Sex-ed classes.

Effective sex education is very difficult to find. The course I sat through in school was useless, focusing on the good girls don't view of sex. On the other hand, my church was blessed with a fantastic sex education class for the youth group.

One of the members of the church was also involved with a summer free clinic at the beach. One fall he was asked to give a brief lecture to the youth of the church on sex. His 30 minute, frank, direct, and informative talk was far more effective than anything the school tried.

He explained the mechanics and the emotion, the means of procreation and how it was prevented, the dangers of STD (pre-Aids) and how these could be avoided. Condoms, the pill and other forms of birth control were talked about. He encouraged everyone to carry a condom, and insisted that this was of vital importance for the girls. He also made one thing perfectly clear, that abstinence was the only thing that was 100% successful.

He was honest, educational and effective. It was comprehensive sex education.

It is also a concept that is unpopular with many in South Carolina. SC PIE is a right wing group who is pushing for change in the schools of South Carolina. They favor Abstinence Only Education, the teaching of Intelligent Design in science class and school choice. I suspect that they would be very upset by the decision of the folks at Timken High School. These types of policies just assure that our students are undereducated, and early parents

The SC PIE web page also features an opinion piece by Karen Floyd, the Republican option for Superintendent of Education. It is about the importance of teaching Intelligent Design in science classes in SC's schools. This fact clearly shows that Mrs. Floyd doesn't' understand basic science, and is a flawed choice to head South Carolina's schools. It is also a good sign that her agenda may be broader than her position papers online may indicate.

Timken High School has seen the flaws of abstinence based sex education, I wonder if Karen Floyd would be supportive of their curriculum change, or attack it.

Anyone care to guess.


4th Amendment Rediscovered.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

A federal court has ordered a stop to the NSA program of wiretapping without a warrant.

A federal judge in Detroit on Thursday ordered the Bush administration to halt the National Security Agency's program of domestic eavesdropping, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor said the controversial practice of warrantless wiretapping known as the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" violated free speech rights, protections against unreasonable searches and the constitutional check on the power of the presidency.

Now, if this administration wants to spy on someone they will have to go the FISA court and get a warrant, as the law demands.

Unless Bush decides to ignore this, like he has so many other things.

Now, to all my little conservative friends who have wet their pants in fear and are screaming that the Islamofacists have won, a few notes. We can still wiretap anyone we want, we just have to get a warrant. Getting a warrant isn't that hard, since the court was established to handle these cases, they have approved well over 99% of the request, and the government can even get a warrant 3 days AFTER they start listening in.

So, go change you pampers and calm down, we will still be able to track down the bad guys.


We Know That The Iraqi Civil War

Is Growing Nicely. July's body count set a new record high, Kurdish targets have started to be attacked and in Basra we now have Shiite militias fighting each other.

I am not sure were could have done a better job of assuring a total civil war if we had been trying. While we have been watching the civil war grow, one aspect of the war in Iraq has fallen off our radar,the insurgency.

The first couple of years in Iraq the insurgents (dead-enders, terrorist, bathist etc) were the only game in town. The attacks by various factions upon US, Iraqi and other coalition forces were regular news items and an issue of grave concern to the US military. In the last few months these have all but disappeared from media coverage, only being mentioned in passing when announcing another US death. It was almost as if the insurgents had quit fighting us, to attack each other.

It appears that the reporters at the NY Times have themselves gotten curious about this and asked the military for an update. The answer was very depressing.

The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war, offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In addition to record deaths in the civil war, the insurgency is also more active than ever before. While we have focused on the Iraqi vs Iraqi conflict, we in the US have forgotten about the Iraqi vs the US fight, but it is cleat that the Iraqi's have not.

"The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels," said a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. "The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time."

Where are we headed now?

Bush has rolled out lame excuse number 14 for why we are fighting in Iraq, now it is so they will not follow us home, indicating that stay the course (or what ever they are calling it this week) is the operational plan, at least the one for the public. Behind the scenes a new plan may be in the works.

"Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy," said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

"Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect," the expert said, "but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy."

A true indication of the level of failure we are talking about here.

Establishing a despotic strong man to rule a nation that was led by a despotic strong man we removed is assured to future harden the anti-US view of the residents of the Middle East.

and it appears, this is where we are now headed.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Paleontologist Make A Very Cool Find

The fossil remains of a baleen whale with a serious set of teeth.

Modern day baleen whales are all placid, plankton eaters, but the new fossil shows the group were not always the ocean's gentle giants. Details of the 25 million-year-old find appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society

For a very good perspective of this find and how it all fits together, visit the loom.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Having To Work Two Jobs

It appears that we need to look at how well we are supporting our troops. Sunday four members of the US Marine Corp were arrested in Columbia. It appears that they were up here from the post at Parris Island doing a little recruiting or organization work for the Crips.

Aside from obvious concerns about gang development in the Midlands of South Carolina, it should be very disturbing that gang members and other highly undesirable people are operating so freely within our armed forces


More Presidential Foolishness

Yesterday, our dear leader boldly announced.

"Hezbollah attacked Israel. Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis,"

Again proving that he does possess a total lack of understanding any complex situation. Hezbollah's survival is it's victory. However, if you want to look a more tangible indicators that clearly indicate how this conflict should be regarded: on the last day of combat, Hezbollah fires more rockets into Israel that on any previous day, and the two missing Israel soldiers are still missing.

Bush's statement was both a foolish and stupid thing to say, but there may be good reasons for trying to pretend that Hezbollah lost. There are solid indications that the US was deeply involved in the planning for this event, and looking at a couple of the foundation concepts of the Israel attack, it does appear to have the taint of the current US military thinking.

1. That air power can win a war. We fall into this trap all the time. We are in love with the idea that somehow air power alone can win a war. It is, for the aggressor, a safe way to fight. The unopposed air-forces suffer few losses, and in the era of visuals, the video replays of the attacks are very popular at the press conferences. The harsh reality that we refuse to learn is, air power can be impressive, but is also very limited.

Dug in forces, hidden forces, unidentified forces are left undamaged, and ready to respond. After 30 days of bombing Hezbollah appeared as effective as they did on the first day.

2. That bombing the population will make them rise up against anyone but the people bombing them. The thinking here seemed to be that the non Shia population of Lebanon would be so enraged at the destruction of their power plants, airports, bridges, water works, and roads that they would blame the people who are not bombing them.

A similar theory is regularly floated about Iran. If we destroy the infrastructure, the people will be so mad about their losses that they will ignore who was bombing them, and attack their own government.

The end result is a huge lose for Israel, and if the reports are true that US policy was involved in the planning, an important lesson for the US. It is unclear if the US will actually learn that lesson.


Monday, August 14, 2006

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

A few weeks ago Ron Shealy had an Op-Ed published that explored that backgrounds of a few people who are in the vanguard of the voucher movement in South Carolina.

One of the people he mentions is Karen Iacovelli, and she is not at all happy about it.

In her effort to defend herself, she claims that Ron Shealy lied, and the she has never supported separation of school and state. Both Laurneline and Not Very Bright note that it appears it may be Karen and not Ron who is busy trying to distort the truth.


It Is Time For The Focus To Shift

Back to Iraq.

There is now a cease fire in place, and the shooting has lessened. While I think the cease fire has little chance of holding for long, in the short term there will be less random destruction to film, and the media may go back to looking at Iraq.

Not that the situation has changed much while they were focused elsewhere.

Recently the US announced that they were moving 3,500 more troops into Baghdad to settle it down. By the time this deployment was finished we had moved in about 7,000 more troops in, double the 3,500 initially announced.

More than 7,000 U.S. reinforcements, almost twice the number originally expected, are now going block by block through the Iraqi capital's Dora neighborhood

These additional forces have not made much of a difference so far. Sunday was typically bloody, with bombings, murders and other actions killing well over 50 people in Baghdad alone.

So while the war in Lebanon may cool and result in a few slow news days, Iraq will surly be able to step up and fill those empty minutes on CNN.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Another Distasteful Politician Faces Primary Heat

This time it is Rep. Jefferson (D-La.)

Democratic state Sen. Derrick Shepherd announced Monday that he will run for the seat in Louisiana's 2nd District held by eight-term Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson, whose outlook has been deeply clouded by a highly publicized federal investigation into whether he accepted bribes.

It will be another step forward if Jefferson could join Lieberman and McKinney as having been removed by their own constituents.


How You Can Spot Irrational Love

It's Saturday morning, a soaking rain is falling, so outdoor activities are no longer an option. I settle down to watch a little TV. My choice of show? It is an hour long program focusing on the last couple of legs of the Volvo Round The World Race, and I am loving it.

This race has been over for months, I know who won, who fished second and all the small stories of the race, and I still enjoy every second of the program.

The race itself is one of the worlds great sporting events. It is packed with action, drama and passion. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to cover, so it goes mostly unnoticed.

PS. The boat pictured here was lost at sea in the North Atlantic on one of the last legs, the crew was rescued.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday's Collection Of Post

That are worth a little of your time.

Geoff over at American Entropy points to another Neo-Con who is ready to cut and run.

How do the people in the White House respond to the London terror threat? AMERICAblog notes it was not with concern, but glee.

It is a couple of days late, but Jesus' General reports in about his visit to Lieberman's Bunker.


Invasion, Round Two

It's Official.

Israel has decided 30 days of attacking just is not enough, and is gearing up for a second month of destruction.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ordered the army to prepare to expand its ground offensive in Lebanon, Israeli officials have said.

There were two outcomes that Israel had to avoid at all cost. Number two would have been to make sure your actions did not arouse wide spread sympathy or support for Hezbollah.

They screwed that up royally. In the first week of the conflict the Arab states were quiet, and their local populations not real agitated. Now, after hundreds of civilian deaths, Hezbollah is again being viewed as heros.

The most important thing they had to do was to not lose.

They are quickly one their way to making sure they fail at this also. When combat first started, Israel needed about a week to 'win'. Condi Rice stalled the international talks to give them the time they wanted. When that week passed, they needed another week, maybe ten days, when that passed, they needed a couple more weeks.

Now Israel is ramping up it's invasion force, to make yet another push to 'win'. What happens next in this effort to win is anyone's guess.


Building The Strawman

Thursday, our esteemed president spouted this foolishness:

"It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America."

I wonder if there is a single person over the age of 10 who doesn't accept this.

Mr. President, the question is not 'is there a threat', but is what you are doing making matters better or worse.

Last summer's London bombings were carried out by locals. They were not inspired by pan-Islamic dreams, but by anger over the US and UK actions in Iraq and Palestine. The early read on the group implicated in the current case seems to headed in the same direction.

So Mr. President, when people oppose your dumber and more dangerous ideas, it doesn't mean that the don't think there is a threat, it is because they think that your actions will make matters worse, not better.

and one other minor point:

The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists

Drop the Islamic fascists bit, it further exposes your stupidity. I will let Bob explain why.


A New Front In The Iraqi Civil War?

Overall it is just another typical bloody day in Iraq. The bodies of the two US soldiers missing from the helicopter crash have been recovered. There have been a few bombings, a couple of kidnappings, a score of recovered bodies and the usual stream of depressing news that we have been ignoring of late, but one item demands notice.

gunmen loyal to a radical Shiite cleric torched an office of the Iraqi president's Kurdish party.

About 50 gunmen in the northern city of Kut stormed the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, headed by President Jalal Talabani, beat up the guards and set the building on fire

To date the Kurds have been left on the sidelines in the ever expanding conflict, but it appears that they now have an invitation to join in the fun.

The next question is, do the Kurds have the wisdom and willpower to stay out.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terrorism In The Air. London Arrests

The British authorities have made a number of arrest, disrupting what would have been a major terrorist attack. Early reports indicate that over 20 people have been arrested, and airport security has been radically increased.

There is speculation about who is behind the proposed attack, and what this means in our on going war against a battle tactic. As expected, US officials are already stressing an Al Qaida link. It is possible, but the more likely situation is that these are home grown terrorist. If pressed, I would say the odds are around 40/60.

Right now there appear to be three degrees of Islamic terror groups. The top level would be the major players, Al Qaida and a few other well established and well trained terror groups. This level seems to be inspired by the goal of either an powerful Palestinian state in Palestine, or pushing the west out of the Middle East. The second level are the well led home grown groups. To date, their motivation appears to not pre-date 2002, but is much more a response to the actions of the US and UK in Iraq. Their anger has been stewing for over a thousand days now, and they are trying to find a way to strike back. The third tier would have to be the disenfranchised who are just looking for any means to empower themselves. The joke of a terror cell in Miami is a very good example of this.

I think we will discover that these are home grown terrorist. I will not be surprised to see some ties to Al Qaida, and maybe even some degree of support. I would be surprised if this cell predates our attack of Iraq.

At this point, I do not think that this plot was designed by Al Qaida operatives outside of England. While the scale of the attack and the scope of the attack are hallmarks of the group, the choice of where the attack was to launched from tends to indicate a UK, not a Middle Eastern point of origin for the plot.

The goal was to hit the UK and the US in a join operation, that would infuse another dose of terror into the society. Destroying 10 jets, 3,000 people at one time would do that, but this mission, if it was not a mission driven by people who were already in the UK, would be better launched from a nation not already on high alert.

If it were an Al Qaida plan, crafted in Afghanistan, funded by their sources, I suspect it would launch from Singapore, or Hong Kong, or Bangkok, or another major international gateway that has high levels of service to the US and the UK. The impact on the US and UK would be very similar, and the risks of detection would be much lower.

In a few months we will have a much fuller picture. A year ago the London subway was attacked. This was a home grown group, inspired in part by the attack on Iraq. If this group was home grown, and born after 2002, it is another indicator that our armed intervention in Iraq is not reducing terrorist, but producing them. I would also note that this, like almost all of our victories in the war on terror, was a result of police work, not open combat.

24 Arrested in England


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My Nation Has Clearly Committed War Crimes

How can you tell?

It is easy, the Bush Administration is now taking action to try to make legal, they illegal acts they ordered.

Citing unidentified U.S. officials, the newspaper said the administration plans to amend the 1996 War Crimes Act, which makes it a crime to violate the Geneva Conventions, by narrowing the number of potential criminal prosecutions.

Only 10 specific categories of illegal acts against wartime detainees, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking, could be prosecuted under the amendments, it said.

Lets hope that our representives in congress have the wisdom to avoid rubber stamping a law that tries to overturn the protections we have in the Geneva Accords.


Two Unpalatable Democrats Fall

Ned Lamont (D-Ct.) was able to do the almost impossible, unseat a veteran incumbent Senator. The final results indicate he won by 4% over Joe Lieberman (D-Ct.). While most of the media seem to be spinning this as an anti-war vote, to me it looks a lot more like a vote aimed at reaffirming what is important to Democrats.

Joe Lieberman not only supports the war, and has defended the Bush Administration's directionless policy in Iraq, he also supported the intervention in the Terri Shavo case. Joe's actions have worked to limit a woman's access to abortions, and his words have indicated a level of disdain for women in need of some medical treatment. He has not been at all firm in the defense of Social Security, and while he works to be polite and civil to Republicans, he appears to enjoy lecturing or demeaning Democrats.

Aside from his support of attacking Iraq, there are a great number of reasons to view his loss as a clear victory for Democrats across the nation.

In other good news from the primaries, Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) was defeated by Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).

Overall a very nice Tuesday in August.


As expected, Lieberman to give it a shot an an independent


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In My District, An Opossum Would Win

Recent Polling indicates that 2006 is a very bad time to be an incumbent.

Most Americans describe themselves as being in an anti-incumbent mood heading into this fall's midterm congressional elections, and the percentage of people who approve of their own representatives performance is at the lowest level since 1994

In fact, good arguments could be made that this mood, as much as anything else, is behind the current troubles Sen. Leiberman (D.Ct) is facing. Unfortunately for the people of South Carolina's House District 2, it doesn't matter.

If this guy was to run for the office, as long as he ran as a Republican he would get 55% of the vote. Despite Joe Wilson's (R. SC) tight relationship with Tom DeLay. Despite the fact that the people in this country don't like the direction we are going, and Joe Wilson is a member of the party who are leading us down this path, the voters of SC-2 will send him back to DC. This district has a history of supporting the Republican, no matter what.

Prior to Joe Wilson, SC-2 was represented by Floyd Spence. He was viewed by many as a do nothing representative, and a few people tried to run against him on this basis. It didn't matter, Floyd was sent back to DC. Only after a double lung transplant, did the people in his district discover just how ill he was, and they still elected him to serve us in DC.

2006 will offer many people the opportunity to have a local impact on national politics. Lets hope that those in areas where change can be effected are able to make it happen. In South Carolina's House District 2, I don't expect to see much change.


Monday, August 07, 2006

A Second Corrupt Republican

Has abandoned his re-election effort.

U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, dogged by an influence peddling probe in Washington, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election.

The Republican had insisted he would not resign, even if indicted over his dealings with now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Bob (R-Oh) has joined Tom (R-Tx)in quitting the race after his Republican primary is won, and giving the democrats a very good chance of another seat pick-up.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday's Collection Of Posts

That are worth your time

The Green Knight has a few highlights on why conservatives can't govern.

What is the proper role of a moral man in a kingdom of swine asks Badtux the Snarky Penguin

A heads up from Daily Kos, the media war of the century may be starting.


We May Have A Race

There are new numbers up and LaurinLine has them. Moore's poll numbers have really improved in the last few weeks.

The South Carolina governor's race is becoming even more competitive with Republican Governor Mark Sanford leading his Democratic challenger, State Senator Tommy Moore, 47% to 38%

The key number is that Sanford is now polling below 50%


Today In Iraqi Cities

In Mosul, 13 were killed in street battles between Iraqi forces, and insurgents.

At least 13 people died in street battles between Iraqi security forces and gunmen in Mosul today after a suicide bomber attacked a police patrol, officials said. Four policemen, including a colonel, were killed and eight injured in the car bombing, which happened in the al-Nour quarter of the northern city, police commander Major General Within al-Hamdani said.

And, chants of 'Death to America' rang out around Baghdad.

Thousands of Shiite youths, some armed and many covered in white shrouds, gathered Friday in Iraq's capital for a pro-Hezbollah rally, amid increasing sectarian violence that senior U.S. generals warn could lead to civil war.

The Shiites arrived late Thursday from southern provinces, heeding the call of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who will preside over the rally after Friday prayers in the Sadr City slum to show support for the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group in its fight against Israel.

A reminder, Muqtada Al-Sadr also controls the Mahdi army millitia in Iraq. This is a force thought to number up to 100,000 loyalist, with over 10,000 active participants. We currently have 130,000 men in Iraq. If the Mahdi army were to become active in it's resistance to the US, it could make a losing situation even worse.

Also remember, this is a nation that we overthrew because Bush claimed that it would bring stability to the middle east. Now, a nation that blocked Iran, is closely allied with Iran, and is cheering on Hazballah in it's current battle against Israel.

Total incompentance has led to a situation where the most radical, most anti-west nation, may now also be the most powerful one in the area.

Great work George.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Iraqi Civil War Talk Continues

This time it is coming from the departing British ambassador.

Patey's warning was contained in his final diplomatic cable, leaked to the BBC, before leaving office last week, the BBC reported.

"The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy," Patey wrote.

"Even the lowered expectation of President Bush for Iraq -- a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror -- must remain in doubt."

We now have another voice who has detailed knowledge about the area confirming that the path we have chosen will most likely fail. Another expert telling his boss that what we are doing is not going to work, and I don't expect to hear anyone from Downing Street or the Bush administration to say anything other than 'stay the course'.

It doesn't appear to matter to them that this course is leading to failure.


Even senior US officers are talking civil war.


South Carolina Faces A Choice

The state of South Carolina can continue to fly the Confederacy's Battle Flag at the foot of the steps of the State House.


Clemson and South Carolina can host NCAA Baseball play-off tournaments.

The Black Coaches Association is putting pressure of the NCAA to expand is current boycott of the state to include ALL NCAA events. This would appear to include soccer tournament games, and the baseball playoffs.

It is a safe bet that this request will be approved. This NAACP inspired boycott has been in place since 2000. The NCAA has a partial sanction in place against the state, but the lack of any effort in resolving the NAACP complaint makes the escalation of the existing sanctions very predictable.

Flag supporters claim that the NAACP is refusing to honor it's agreement that removed the flag from the top of the state house. The NAACP claims that the flag supporters violated the agreement by placing the flag in to prominent of a position, that was more visible than the one it was removed from.

Both sides are right. This assures that when the NCAA does act, the talks that will follow will be very spirited. There is little doubt that this has the potential to become a real time and focus eater. When it does work it's way into the State House, it could end up being the primary focus of a whole session.

If you are a fan of NCAA playoff events, I recommend that you accept the idea that none of them will be back into our state anytime soon.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

NCIS Thinks They Did It

The Haditha report is in, and the evidence indicates it was mass murder.

Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.

Agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have completed their initial work on the incident last November, but may be asked to probe further as Marine Corps and Navy prosecutors review the evidence and determine whether to recommend criminal charges

This is one of at least 4 cases of mass murder that US troops now stand accused of committing, but this is the largest and oldest of the cases that have been publicly disclosed.

In what may be both an ironic twist of timing, and a really fantastic legal ploy on the part of his lawyers, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich is suing Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa) for libel.

But, if the story it true, and the investigators think it is, can anything that Murtha said actually be considered libel?


We 'Forgot' To Take A Vacation, Again

As this summer starts to wind down, and we get ready to send the kids (both this time) back to school, another summer has passed with no vacation time taken.

We did have plans. A trip north to visit a couple of collages that the oldest is interest in, but the schedule could not be put in place. The oldest had one week she had to work at a drama camp, and a ten day mission trip to John's Island, and a job. Mom and Dad's work also played it's part. Twice the trip was scheduled, and twice the trip was moved because events at work made leaving for a week a poor option.

So here we are, school starting in a couple of days, the first year of school for the little one, and our summer has not felt like summer at all.

No time spent by a pool, or on the beach; No amusement parks, or museums, or stunning vistas of natural beauty. Just a steady march that starts with an alarm at 6:05am, and ends around 11:00pm, with 10 hours at a desk in between. The hope for more time together spend playing, and not worried about schedule, again lost, or at very best delayed.

Time has marched on and forced a shift in our focus. Lets get school started, and get into the fall pattern at home. Then we can look at the school calendar, and maybe find a couple of long weekends, visit those colleges, and maybe a museum, or an amusement park, and still try to grab a taste of summer, about two months too late.


Primary Day In Kansas

And one of the races to watch will be the republican side of the race for spots on the Kansas State Board of Education. Last year they approved a few changes in the science standards in an effort to sneak Not So Intelligent Design into the class room. (by the way, these changes are very similar to some of the changed being promoted by a number of South Carolina republicans). This fall the voters of Kansas get their chance to respond.

The board's actions to sneak creationism newest child into the classroom may extract a high price. A number of pro-science candidates are running in the republican primary, and if they fail to knock the right wing pro-ID office holders out of their seats, they plan on joining forces with the democrats to get this false science out of the classroom.

Several moderate Republican candidates have vowed, if they lose Tuesday, to support the Democratic primary winners in November. With the campaign enlivened by a crowded field of 16 candidates contending for five seats ' four held by conservatives who voted for the new science standards last year ' a shift of two seats could overturn the current 6-to-4 majority.

Lets see if the lesson of Dover can be repeated in Kansas, and hope that, no mater this falls results, the republicans in South Carolina that are pushing these foolish ideas decide to put them aside in favor of real science.


The pro-science candidates appear to be winning


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Iraqi Violence Continues


Bombings and shootings killed more than 70 people in Iraq on Tuesday in a surge of bloodshed as U.S. forces prepare to take back Baghdad's streets from gunmen. The dead included 20 Iraqi troops, a U.S. soldier and a British soldier.

One point of note, while we are sending fresh troops into Baghdad, much of the violence is occurring outside the city.

The American soldier, who was assigned to the 1st Armored Division, died ``due to enemy action'' in Anbar province west of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. In a separate statement, the military said a U.S. soldier from the 16th Corps Support Group died the day before in a roadside bombing south of the capital.


officials confirmed that about 45 Shiite Muslims were kidnapped over the last two weeks on the main highway to Syria and Jordan


The deadliest attack Tuesday occurred when a roadside bomb devastated a bus packed with Iraqi soldiers near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad.


The British soldier was fatally wounded in a mortar barrage before dawn Tuesday on a British base in the southern city of Basra


In the southern city of Najaf, Gov. Assad Abu Kilal said 45 people from his province had disappeared while traveling by bus

While Baghdad is in full blown anarchy, much of the rest of the nation is not much better; And the magic bullet to fix this is to move a few thousand troops from one part of Iraq, to another.