Saturday, April 29, 2006

CPI fiction:

The Big Picture has a very interesting post. Read it to the final paragraph.


Mission Obscured:

Bush can't be too upset with the massive immigration marches set for Moneay. After all, the focus will be on that and not the three-year anniversary of the Mission Accomplished stunt on the aircraft carrier.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Joe Lieberman should abolish himself:

In the news: (excerpts)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was so fundamentally dysfunctional during Hurricane Katrina that Congress should abolish it and create a new disaster response agency from scratch, according to a draft of bipartisan recommendations proposed by a Senate committee.

Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who is chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the new agency would be "better equipped with the tools to prepare for and respond to a disaster."

The committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, also endorsed creation of what would be called the National Preparedness and Response Authority.
Remember, it was Lieberman who chaired the committee that held hearings on Michael Brown's nomination in 2002 (pdf). Lieberman approved of Brown throughout the process. Now he wants to abolish an agency that worked well when properly managed and is moving to create yet another organization - much like his support for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which was never a good idea.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Is this true?

Tom Friedman had an essay in the New York Times this Wednesday about energy use: strategies for conservation, etc. Standard stuff, except for this: (emp add)
Thanks to the energy efficiency standards that California has imposed on its own power industry, buildings and appliances over the last 30 years — and its increasing reliance on renewable energy sources — California today consumes a little more than half as many kilowatt-hours of energy per capita each year as the rest of America. This has helped California avoid having to build a whole slew of power plants.
Friedman doesn't say where that information came from. Electricity use isn't everything, but it's a lot. If California is using half as much electricity, why not duplicate the standards on a nationwide basis?


Puzzle time!



Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You thought 2004 was a nasty election year? Just wait 'til you see this one play out:

From News Hounds: Sean Hannity and Michael Reagan Try To Blame Liberals For High Gas Prices

Read it and be amazed. (via Angry Bear)


There is no price gouging at the pump:

Not really. Sure, there are instances of retailers jacking up the cost. And even the big oil companies are pricing at the upper range (mostly through refining charges). But this is mostly the result of the market. And the market was allowed to develop in the following way:
  • Mergers between oil companies over the last 15 years (under Clinton, remember) that have an inevitable byproduct of stifling competition.
  • Fewer companies and vertical integration meant less interest in constructing refineries (not too long ago Shell tried to shut one down in Bakersfield, California).
  • Failure to impose stricter fuel economy standards on trucks and SUVs.
  • Failure to force the market into new directions (like Brazil did) with hefty incentives to move away from oil.
That's your market. Plus, there is the increasing demand from China et al., and the tensions in the Persian Gulf.

The point is that the market in the U.S. is configured in such a way that it's hard to see how any policy can give quick relief. It took a long time to get this way, and it will take a long time to improve.


Monday, April 24, 2006

"... positive news for General Motors Corp. ..."

In the news: (excerpts, emp add)
Big engines stay popular despite gas spike

U.S. consumers bought vehicles with big, gas-guzzling engines at an unchanged rate in the first three months of the year despite rising gas prices, according to a survey released on Monday.

That market share level for V8s -- typically the most powerful engines used in trucks and large sport utility vehicles -- was unchanged from the average of 25 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the Power Information Network.

If that trend holds, it would be positive news for General Motors Corp., which has staked its product strategy this year to the launch of a new line of SUVs, including the Tahoe and the Yukon, which run on V8 engines.
That's the strategy, folks.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Washington Post editorial: We can't do anything about the market!

In an editorial, Do No Harm, we read in the Washington Post:
INEQUALITY IN the United States has been growing for a generation. [...]

One unproductive critique of inequality targets corporations for cutting wages and benefits. Companies must respect market forces ...
Apparently the Post has forgotten about something called tariffs. That's one way of modifying the market. You can argue about efficacy of that, but it's something that can be done.

The Post continues:
Cracking down on immigration, for example, is no solution. Tough enforcement is expensive, harsh and doomed to be at best partially effective ...
Tough enforcement is expensive! Well, that settles that. When can we expect a similar editorial on the drug war, saying that cracking down is no solution, that enforcement is expensive, etc.

They do address tariffs further down in the editorial:
The most pervasive and misplaced reaction to inequality is protectionism. Trade liberalization since 1945 has delivered a vast stimulus to growth, boosting U.S. incomes by $1 trillion a year, according to an extensive survey of the evidence by the Institute for International Economics. It's true that these gains are unevenly distributed, but the skewing is subtle. Unionized labor in the heavily traded manufacturing sector has been hit hard. But the poorest and least skilled Americans actually gain from trade, because they tend to work in low-end service jobs that do not face foreign competition.
How about that? "The skewing is subtle." So pay no attention to the enormous gains made by the top 1%. Also, how about the assurance that "the poorest and least skilled Americans actually gain from trade, because they tend to work in low-end service jobs that do not face foreign competition". That would be fine, except those jobs do face foreign competition - in the case of the aforementioned immigrants.

Congratulations to the Post for writing a thoroughly pro-business, Social Darwinist, Free Market Fundamentalist, editorial.


Saturday, April 22, 2006


In the news:
The CIA fired a long-serving intelligence officer for sharing classified information with The Washington Post and other news organizations, officials said yesterday, as the agency continued an aggressive internal search for anyone who may have discussed intelligence with the news media.


Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate intelligence panel, welcomed the CIA's actions. In a statement, he said leaks had "hindered our efforts in the war against al Qaeda," although he did not say how.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Correcting Krauthammer:

Charles Krauthammer has written an Op-Ed where he defends Rumsfeld and criticizes those generals that have recently been in the news voicing opposition to the way the military has been run. In it, he writes:
... the Bush administration threw out years and years and layer upon layer of war planning on Afghanistan, improvised one of the leanest possible attack plans and achieved one of the more remarkable military victories in recent history.
Krauthammer misses his opportunity to strike a knockout blow. He should have written:
... the Bush administration threw out years and years and layer upon layer of war planning on Afghanistan, improvised one of the leanest possible attack plans and achieved one of the more remarkable military victories in recent history, capturing Bin Laden and key Al-Qaeda officials.
UPDATE: Edited to tighten the post.


One liar and five fools:

Think Progress documents White House aide Dan Bartlett lying when he said "no one [in the administration] ever said that this war was going to result in cheaper gas prices". Laurence Lindsey did. And over at Blah3, there is a juicy collection of essays from big name conservatives (Heritage, WSJ, National Review, et al) who said the Iraq War was likely to lead to cheaper oil. Most claims were for under $25 a barrel. And all were wrong, as today's $72 price demonstrates.

CLARIFICATION: The current high price of oil is due to tensions and concerns surrounding Iran, and should not have been cited. A more relevant oil price is the over-$50 we've seen for a long time since the Iraq War started, and which lasted up until the Iran factor started to have its effect.


Thursday, April 20, 2006


If you are Jonah Goldberg, you use the following words when challenging the consensus on Global Warming:
  • scaremonger
  • green scare
  • scaremongering
  • environmental scare books
  • witch hunt
  • environmental jihad
  • alarmism
  • green scare
  • millenarian battiness
  • green scare
  • fear
Inspired by a Busy, Busy, Busy post.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thug selected to be Bush's policy chief:

From TPM Muckraker:
The man Bush tapped to fill Karl Rove's spot as his policy wizard is none other than Joel Kaplan, who took part in the infamous "Brooks Brothers riot" of 2000. That's when a bunch of Washington GOP operatives, posing as outraged Floridians, waved fists, chanted "Stop the fraud!" and pounded windows in an effort to intimidate officials engaged in the Florida recount effort.
From the Smirking Chimp link (above, dated 14 July 2002?):

Three members of the window-pounding crowd that on Thanksgiving Eve helped persuade the Miami-Dade County canvassing board to abandon the recount are now members of the White House staff: Matt Schlapp, now a special assistant to the president; Garry Malphrus, deputy director of the president's Domestic Policy Council; and Joel Kaplan, also a special assistant to the president.
He's not in this picture (at least not identified) but here is a reminder of what Republicans stood for back then, and still stand for today.


For those of you who missed the story, Kamen [of the Washington Post] named names and provided occupations of a few of the rioters featured in a Reuters photo.
(1) Tom Pyle, policy analyst, office of House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX.) -- speaking of Dixie Cro-Mags
(2) Garry Malphrus, majority chief counsel and staff director, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice.
(3) Rory Cooper, political division staff member at the National Republican Congressional Committee
(4) Kevin Smith, former House Republican conference analyst and more recently with
(5) Steven Brophy, former aide to Sen. Fred D. Thompson (R-TN.) and presently with consulting firm KPMG
(6) Matt Schlapp, former chief of staff for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), at the time with the Bush campaign staff in Austin
(7) Roger Morse, aide to Rep. Van Hilleary (R-TN)
(8) Duane Gibson, aide to Chairman Don Young (R-AK) of the House Resources Committee
(9) Chuck Royal, legislative assistant to Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
(10) Layna McConkey, former legislative assistant to former Rep. Jim Lightfoot (R-IA), currently with Steelman Health Strategies


Window dressing:

McClellan's resignation as press secretary doesn't mean the internal machinery of the Bush administratio has changed. Scott was merely the front man.


"He could have been in ..."

From Maureen Dowd's latest column. About Rumsfeld:
"He didn't worry about the culture in Iraq," said Bernard Trainor, the retired Marine general who is ... the co-author of "Cobra II." "He just wanted to show them the front end of an M-1 tank. He could have been in Antarctica fighting penguins. He didn't care, as long as he could send the message that you don't mess with Hopalong Cassidy. He wanted to do to Saddam in the Middle East what he did to Shinseki in the Pentagon, make him an example, say, 'I'm in charge, don't mess with me.' "
Fighting penguins. That's probably the next step after Iran.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

There is no excuse for this: (But there is an explanation: monopolies don't give a rat's ass)

HP is, what, the largest seller of printers? And Microsoft can't be bothered to test their patches on typical systems?
A "critical" Windows patch can cause trouble on computers that run certain Hewlett-Packard photo-sharing software or the Kerio firewall, Microsoft said.

The MS06-015 patch, designed to plug a flaw in Windows Explorer, can cause a myriad problems for users of HP printers, scanners and digital cameras, Microsoft said in an article on its support Web site dated Saturday. ...

The troubles include being unable to access or save files in special folders like "My Documents" and "My Pictures," and unresponsive Office applications, Microsoft said. Other issues include applications that crash after trying to open a file, no response after typing an address into Internet Explorer's address bar ...

While designed to fix a security issue in Windows Explorer, the patch can actually also impair that specific Windows feature. Clicking on the "plus" sign beside a folder in the file browser may have no effect ...

The problems occur because HP's "share-to-Web" software ... interfere[s] with a new file, verclsid.exe, delivered by the security update, Microsoft said. The HP software in question ships with cameras, printers, scanners and some DVD drives, Microsoft said.

Microsoft recommends that affected users of the HP products manually change their Windows Registry ...


Nit-picking time:

In a New York Times opinion piece reviewing the New Hampshire phone-jamming by Republicans, we read: (exerpts, emp add)
A Small-Time Crime With Hints of Big-Time Connections Lights Up the Net

Bloggers are fascinated by what they see as eerie parallels between Watergate and a phone-jamming scandal in New Hampshire. It has low-level Republican operatives involved in dirty campaign tricks. It has checks from donors with murky backgrounds. It has telephone calls to the White House.

The parallels drawn with Watergate are a good place to start:

1. The return of the "second-rate burglary." The New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal is being dismissed as small-time, state-level misconduct, but it occurred at a critical moment in a tough election.
Beg to differ. It was famously described as a third-rate burglary. How did that get overlooked by the author (or perhaps the bloggers, which is what the essay is mostly about)?


From the Los Angeles Daily News:
County budget fat with tax cash

Safety, health, homeless benefit


LA Daily News

Bolstered by a property tax windfall in a surging housing market, Los Angeles County officials on Monday unveiled a $19.3 billion budget proposal designed to boost public safety and homeless services and improve nursing care at public hospitals.

Skyrocketing home prices have allowed the county to restore some of the services it slashed during the state budget crisis that also hammered local governments. But officials cautioned that they plan to take a conservative approach to growth so as not to be overextended if the economy heads downward.
It's not often you see in the news an explicit tying of taxes to benefits for the citizenry. And another thing: even though economic forces were largely the cause of the budget crisis of earlier years, the manipulation of the energy market in 1999-2000 by players like Enron did substantial harm to the state, diminishing its ability to provide safety, health, and services. Many people seem to have forgotten that. Perhaps the trial of Skilling and Lay will remind them.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Listen up, readers!

Hey, have you ever heard of a guy called Hitler? He was a funny looking fellow with a Charlie Chaplin mustache, but also a mean son-of-a-bitch. He was the leader of Germany and he talked big and threatened other countries.

The problem was, nobody did much to stop him. The next thing you know, World War II is underway and that was really bad.

Well, guess what? The president of Iran is exactly like Hitler. Poses the same threat. But we don't want to do nothin'again and have another world war.

So we gotta attack Iran now.


Not catching Bin Laden:

In today's Bob Herbert column, we are reminded of Bush's failure to apply all resources towards capturing Osama Bin Laden:
You might have thought that Mr. Bush, in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, would have used all the forces at his disposal to capture or kill the man responsible for the worst attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor. But if you thought that, you would have been wrong.

Americans bombarded Tora Bora. But the all-important effort on the ground to surround and close in on bin Laden and his forces was contracted out by the administration to a clownish, quarrelsome group of Afghan thugs and miscreants. When a Marine general all but begged to be allowed to bring his men in to do the job, he was turned down.

Bin Laden escaped into Pakistan and hundreds of his followers scattered.
And that brings to mind something Kevin Drum brought to our attention last month: (quoting from TNR)
On a range of issues, the Americans have upset the British, politely listening to their concerns and then, more often than not, simply ignoring them. A British offer to send 6,000 troops into the caves of Tora Bora to hunt for Osama bin Laden was rejected in November 2001.
Bush failed to make a serious effort to get Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Will the public ever hold him accountable for this?


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Yet another attack on the left in the Washington Post:

(Let's set aside the liberal/left semantics for the moment.)

In an article that claims to show readers what the typical left/liberal blog is, many instances of outrageous comments by visitors are cited. That's a pathetic way to make a case. First of all, unmoderated comments is a playground for all manner of kooks. Second, it has nothing to do with the sensibility of the blogger (should we judge Kevin Drum by the comments left by "Al"?). Finally, there are equally hot-tempered comments left in message threads of virtually any news story over at Yahoo. Is Yahoo "Left, Online, and Outraged" when it puts out a standard-issue AP wire story?

The author in question, David Finkel (keep an eye on this guy), hadn't even visited a blog until the story was assigned to him. And he wasn't interested in any of the thoughtful, adult, liberal blogs.

It's just another day at the Post, where the left are treated like bums.

See also Bilmon and Greenwald on this issue.

It's pretty obvious what's going on here. Fred Hiatt and Deborah Howell and some others decided to do a cheap-ass hit job on their critics. You can just imaging them relishing it during an editorial conference. "Hey, let's put out a story that makes those lefties look like enraged Bush-and-America-haters."

UPDATE: David Finkel wins a Pulitzer! ("for explanatory reporting for writing about the U.S. government's attempt to bring democracy to Yemen")


Friday, April 14, 2006

Please don't throw me in the briar patch!

The way the president of Iran is talking, you'd think he wants the U.S. to attack his country. And you know what? He might be right. He would probably benefit politically should Bush decide to do so.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bush's political advisor speaks out on foreign policy!

For the most part, hasn't Karl Rove been a guy who works in the shadows? Then what to make of this? (emp add)
Reaching a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear ambitions will be difficult because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "not a rational human being," a senior White House adviser said on Wednesday.

"We are engaged in a diplomatic process with our European partners and the United Nations to keep them from developing such a weapon," Karl Rove, deputy White House chief of staff, told an audience of business people at the Houston Forum.
Apparently, having an an advisor totally unschooled in foreign policy speaking out on delicate international matters is now SOP at the White House.

Get ready for big action this year.


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A Good Mobile Bio-weapons Lab
President Bush said two hydrogen-producing trailers were WMD labs. Is that a scandal?
Sunday, April 39, 2006; B06
PRESIDENT BUSH was right to declare that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein should be toppled. Presidents are authorized to withhold sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do. But the administration handled the concealment clumsily, exposing Mr. Bush to the hyperbolic charges of misconduct that Democrats are leveling.

Rather than accepting the May 2003 assessment of the most experienced survey team that the trailers were not for WMD, and then invite reporters to a briefing -- which the White House will never do -- President Bush chose to keep it under wraps, having his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, repeatedly declare that the trailers were bioweapon labs. There was never a full public disclosure of the final report. There was nothing illegal or even particularly unusual about that; this presidentially authorized cocealment is comparable to keeping other secrets that the president believes, rightly or wrongly, bolster national security. Nevertheless, Mr. Cheney's pronouncement later that year that the trailers were "mobile biological facilities," and saying they could have been used to produce anthrax or smallpox, made Mr. Bush look foolish for having failed to use such concrete examples.

The affair concerns, once again, "Curveball", and his descriptions of mobile labs. Each time the WMD issue surfaces, opponents of the war in Iraq use Curveball to make the same old charges that professional assessments were ignored by the administration in favor of unsubstantiated reports from unreliable sources. So it's worth recalling what he said. Curveball said he helped assemble a germ-production unit on trucks at Djerf al Nadaf. He claimed to have supervised work in one of the mobile labs and even described a catastrophic 1998 accident in one lab that left 12 Iraqis dead. He warned before the war that there were seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. He said he built germ weapons trucks.. Even though the U.S. intelligence agencies disputed all of those statements, what Curveball said was good enough for Bush, Cheney, and Powell. And that's good enough for me, Fred Hiatt, who loves this war and this president.


Will your home be under water when the sea levels rise?

Here is a way to find out what elevation you are residing at:

Go to

Enter street address, city, state, ZIP


Get data, note latitude and longitude

Go to

Enter city and state, click SEARCH

Enter latitude and longitude in the Decimal Degrees section
Leave the Coordinate datum radio buttons alone
Click MAP

Then fiddle with map size (large) and resolution (1:25,000 is good). There are Different height units, but most appear to in feet for the USGS maps (brown lines).

Here's hoping you are at least 100 feet above (current) sea level!


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Read your bible:

Professor Bainbridge doesn't like the fuss over the recently announced Gospel of Judas:
If you don't read the news accounts relating to the much ballyhooed Gospel of Judas carefully, you might come away with the impression that it is a legitimate alternative to orthodox Christian theology.
A the New York Times put it:
The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator.
How do the canonical Gospels view Judas' action? Consider this, from the Gospel of John (NIV Jn 13:21-30):
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means."

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?"

Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

"What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
At least in John, Judas was acting to complete a process, a process that in orthodox belief was necessary for the salvation of the world.

(We aren't believers, but have done some reading in this area. What's surprising is how many self-professed Christians don't know much about the scriptures.)

UPDATE: This post was written in a hurry and skipped over lots of detail. The point is that the Gospel of John is considered to be a little Gnostic in character - and in fact was not unanimously approved in the early centuries. There has always been a tension between different schools of Christianity, often revolving around the nature of each of the three primary figures; Father, Son, and Spirit. How distinct they are is one dispute. Another is the human/divine nature of Jesus. The Gnostics, in addition to their notion of 'secret' revelation, took the view that the human body of Jesus was merely a container for earthly function, and that the godly component was pretty much immune to pain. So it wasn't that big a deal whatever Judas may have done.


Does the Washington Post editorial board read their own newspaper?

There's been a lot of buzz about the latest report in the Washington Post about intel on Niger in 2002-2003. Key excerpt:
[T]he National Intelligence Council, [is] the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. ...

The council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.
So we know that Bush knew the Niger story was bogus. Yet, in an amazingly obtuse editorial (A Good Leak), the Washington Post writes:
PRESIDENT BUSH was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons.
The Washington Post is asserting that the leak of selected NIE assessments about Niger, were "to make clear Bush believed" in the Niger story, which he clearly did not.

NOTE: Post defenders could argue that Bush believed Saddam was doing something (some things involving Niger; some others, not) towards getting nukes, and that's what they meant in the editorial when writing that Bush "believed that Saddam was seeking nuclear weapons". But thats a bait and switch. Leak about Niger? Okay, says the Post, since clarification about nuclear programs was merited.

Sorry, no sale.

See also Josh Marshall's well written thoughts on the Post editorial.

And take a look at Think Progress' take-down of the Post editorial's many factual errors.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Loads of fun, fun, fun!

This is the cover of the Washington Post weekly edition for March 27 - April 2, 2006:


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Iran - a tempting target:

Over at TPM, Steve Clemons excerpts a Nelson Report that discusses the various approaches to Iran, including the military option. Of interest are these observations: (emp add)
In the past few days, Teheran has bragged about a 220 mph torpedo, a missile that apparently Superman couldn't track, a flying-boat invisible to all but God, and no doubt other super-weapons ready and waiting to hit Gulf Oil shipping, US troops and bases, and Israel. . .not to mention Turkey, Jordan, and anyone else deemed helpful to the US in any way.

The thrust of the Telegraph article is that the Brits think President Bush operates on an entirely different logic set, and that Bush is, indeed, prepared to use military means against Iran ...

If one has a limited imagination, there IS a rational case for striking sooner, rather than risk being "too late", and some of our sources are willing to speculate that President Bush has been told (or WILL be told) that the US can easily sink the Iranian navy in a day or two, and also effectively counter Iranian anti-ship missiles aimed at oil tankers in the Gulf, as in the '80's.
How strong is Iran's military? Take a look at this graphic from the Telegraph. Iran looks mighty weak, especially in terms of their conventional weaponry. And their Navy:
  • 3,000 marines
  • 6 submarines
  • 3 frigates

Attacking Iran is probably a major mistake, but considering how weak their military is on paper, it's likely to make Bush and his advisors feel more comfortable about a strike.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Yeah, that's the ticket!

Via Kevin Drum, remarking on the potential of a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, there is a Telegraph article, which contains:
The United States government is hopeful that the military operation will be a multinational mission, but defence chiefs believe that the Bush administration is prepared to launch the attack on its own or with the assistance of Israel, if there is little international support.
The assistance of Israel will really play well in the Middle East. Who thinks up these things? If you read the entire article, you'll find that an attack on Iran could be launched from far-away British and U.S. bases. In military terms, what would Israel add to the picture?


The global cooling myth:

Via Yglesias, you can read a good report called, The global cooling myth. It's by climate scientists. The basic point is that no scientists were proclaiming global cooling (except as a long-term 20,000 year trend due to the earth's orbital changes). That they all were of the opinion in the 1970's that more data was needed. And that whatever Global Cooling talk there was, came from the popular press.

In the story there are links to previous essays debunking George "No Global Warming" Will. Good fun.


Distance matters:

In a mendacious essay over at the Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria extolls the virtues of immigration. Never mind that it depresses wages of everybody. In any event, one of his 'points' is this:
One puzzle about post-Sept. 11 America is that it has not had a subsequent terror attack -- not even a small backpack bomb in a movie theater -- while there have been dozens in Europe. My own explanation is that American immigrant communities, even Arab and Muslim ones, are not very radicalized. (Even if such an attack does take place, the fact that 4 1/2 years have gone by without one provides some proof of this contention.)
That's certainly open to debate. This blog considers al-Qaeda to be a motley group with limited resources (e.g. car bombs). That they don't pose a significant threat - at least not on the level of any state. And there is pretty convincing evidence of the terrorist's limited capabilities. Let's review major terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals since 9/11: (Israel/Palestinian and Iraq events excluded)

Date Where Nearest major
Islamic state
casualties distance from
state (miles)
May 8, 2002 Karachi, Pakistan Pakistan 13 0
June 14, 2002 Karachi, Pakistan Pakistan 12 0
Octeber 12, 2002 Bali, Indonesia Indonesia 202 0
May 12, 2003 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 26 0
May 16, 2003 Casablanca, Morocco Morocco 41 0
November 15, 2003 Istanbul, Turkey Turkey 27 0
November 20, 2003 Istanbul, Turkey Turkey 30 0
March 11, 2004 Madrid, Spain Morocco 191 300
May 29, 2004 Khobar, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 22 0
July 7, 2005 London, United Kingdom North Africa region 56 1000
July 23, 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Egypt 88 0
2002-2006 United States North Africa region 0 5000

Graphically: (total attack deaths plotted against distance from major Islamic populations)

Has the U.S. escaped significant terrorist atacks because of its immigration policy (Zakaria) or simply because it's further away?


5,000 jobs lost and 5,000 jobs gained. Who ends up the winner?

This is the flat world Thomas Friedman loves so much.

Story One:
Computer Sciences to Consider Possible Sale, Cut Jobs

April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Computer Sciences Corp., the world's No. 5 computer-services company, said it will explore strategic options including a potential sale of the company and announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs.
Story Two:
CSC to double headcount in India

TUESDAY, APRIL 04, 2006 05:06:24 PM

CHENNAI: California based Computer Sciences Corporation, which currently has an employee strength of 5,000 in India, will increase the headcount to 10,000-12,000 by next year, a top company official said.


Monday, April 03, 2006


In the news:
Rice gets a taste of Iraqi fear on road to Baghdad

Jack Straw and Condoleezza Rice experienced something they had never witnessed before in Baghdad: the fear faced by ordinary Iraqis every day in this city.

As their plane from Liverpool landed nearly three years to the day since American troops first entered the city bringing promises of a brighter future it was being lashed by thunderstorms.

The helicopters that would normally have flown them directly to the security of the heavily fortified Green Zone for the normal rounds of diplomacy with political leaders and coalition military briefings were grounded.

They had to go by road and they did not like it.

Baghdad's airport road is no longer the most dangerous stretch of tarmac in the world, as it was six months ago. It now has Iraqi police posted at every access road.

But it is still a place where roadside bombs are laid regularly and potshots taken routinely at vehicles.

And traffic is always a problem. Checkpoints - most legal and manned by Iraqi security forces - reduce its flow to a crawl.

Yesterday it was particularly bad. Baghdad's drains were never good but the lack of money to repair them means many have collapsed resulting in widespread flooding after a downpour.

As they sat for 45 minutes in the back of an armoured vehicle, hemmed in by cars and lorries and with their military escort trying to force the vehicles in front to move to one side, the Foreign Secretary and the US secretary of state were notably quiet.

Those who saw her said that Miss Rice was particularly annoyed at having to endure such a ride.
And who can blame her? It really is annoying when insurgents slow down the traffic, isn't it?


Sunday, April 02, 2006

George Will - about as bad as a high schooler's effort:

In a ridiculous column, Let Cooler Heads Prevail, George Will tries to be clever. Exhibit A:
Eighty-five percent of Americans say warming is probably happening, and 62 percent say it threatens them personally. The National Academy of Sciences says the rise in the Earth's surface temperature has been about one degree Fahrenheit in the past century. Did 85 percent of Americans notice? Of course not. They got their anxiety from journalism calculated to produce it. Never mind that one degree might be the margin of error when measuring the planet's temperature. To take a person's temperature, you put a thermometer in an orifice or under an arm. Taking the temperature of our churning planet, with its tectonic plates sliding around over a molten core, involves limited precision.
In that paragraph, we see several propaganda elements:
  • That since people didn't personally notice a rise in global temperatures, they believe in it merely because scientists say so. This is anti-intellectualism on full display.
  • "Journalism" is calculating to produce anxiety about global warming. George, where's the proof?
  • Scientists can't be expected to measure a complex system like the earth. Only small-scale, static systems (like the human body) can evaluated. Another example of anti-intellectualism, in this case, opposed to anything involving complex mathematics.
But the lowlight of Will's column comes at the end:
Suppose the Earth is warming and suppose the warming is caused by human activity. Are we sure there will be proportionate benefits from whatever climate change can be purchased at the cost of slowing economic growth and spending trillions? Are we sure the consequences of climate change -- remember, a thick sheet of ice once covered the Midwest -- must be bad?
Message to George Will: The entire infrastructure of the planet - ports, dams, canals, roads, coastal cities - are built for the current climate. If substantial changes in global climate take place, enormous amounts of existing infrastructure would become worthless. Entire countries would have to be rebuilt from the ground up, with relocation of cities, plus new transportation and delivery systems to serve them. It would cost plenty. One trillion dollars would look like peanuts by comparison.

Final note: Will gets cute by saying that climate change may not be bad, 'cause remember how bad it was when ice covered North America? We're supposed to be reassured that it's warming, not cooling that we're facing. But why stop with a short inter-glacial warming? Go the whole hog, turn the temperature way up, and you'll be looking at a really crazy situation - such as those which were in effect millions of years ago. It was hot, hot, hot!


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Money and politics:

I've you've been following the illegal immigration debate, you might have noticed the following:
While there is sharp disagreement about what to do regarding those currently in the U.S., there is unanimity regarding the solution going forward - one that helps the poor and restricts further illegal entry: prevent businesses from hiring the undocumented.
But the right and left have pretty much given up on that hope. Both sides are admitting that the interests of business are what dictate which laws are written and how (weakly) they are going to be enforced. It's a tacit admission that Congress is representing business, and not the public.